Happy Thanksgiving from Villa di Maria

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We hope you and yours are healthy, well-rested, and getting ready to stuff yourselves silly! Below, a touching reflection by Upper Elementary Guide Rebecca Callander about the special Thanksgiving celebration in the Elementary building last Friday, in addition to Thanksgiving-related poetry accompanied by beautiful photos by Lower Elementary Assistant Melinda Smith. Thank you for your contributions, Rebecca and Melinda!

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Recently our whole elementary celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday with emphasis on the aspect of “a day of giving thanks”.  Our meal was lovingly prepared by Mr. Justin and five of our hot lunch students, with many dishes contributed potluck style and with a lovely table design artfully arranged by Ms. Colleen and upper elementary children.  We solemnly gathered in the common area, with 80something children sitting together like one.   Children listened intently as 10 upper el children read poems of gratitude and then we dismissed each child for lunch by asking them share what they were grateful for.

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As adults, we opened the floor by offering, authentically, what we, ourselves, were grateful for, which set the tone for children to mindfully share what they were grateful for in the moment. The answers were so touching and offered a rare glimpse into just how deeply every single child feels in one singular moment. As you can imagine, the shares were multifaceted and were aligned with where the children fell in their tenure of their elementary journey. They ranged from direct and familial: my sister, my brothers, my pet, my elders, my family.

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To elementary community related: to my classroom, the new building, getting many new lessons, my friends. And to more abstract: to Montessori education, to the United Nations, to those men and women in armed service who bravely risk their lives for us (yes this was said), to animal shelters, scientists who work to help solve global warming.  And, finally to the philosophical, to the most finite and infinite: to plants who provide for us, to music, to the Big Bang, to atoms, to all people of all kinds. What was spectacular was how the group listened to the shares, to how everyone’s share was honored, and to how the group kept inching, in closer and closer, in a trancelike movement, as the number of children diminished. It was there that I saw the reverent twinkle in the eyes. The contentment and the experiencing of noticing which is so directly correlated with mindfulness. When we offer a listening, an open space without judgment, for authentic expression and for children to speak and notice themselves and the world, true gratitude and mindfulness converge.

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Here are our thanksgiving poems:
Thanksgiving Time
When the night winds whistle through the trees and blow the crisp brown leaves a’crackling down,
When the autumn moon is big and yellow-orange and round,
When old Jack Frost is sparkling on the ground,
It’s Thanksgiving Time!
 
When the pantry jars are full of mince-meat and the shelves are laden with sweet spices for a cake
When the butcher man sends up a turkey nice and fat to bake,
When the stores are crammed with everything ingenious cooks can make,
It’s Thanksgiving Time!
 
When the gales of coming winter outside your window howl,
When the Air is sharp and cheery so it drives away your scowl,
When one’s appetite craves turkey and will have no other fowl,
It’s Thanksgiving Time!
Langston Hughes
 
Hope Is A Thing With Feathers
Hope is a thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings a tune without words
And never stops at all.
 
And sweetest, in the gale, is heard
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That keeps so many warm.
 
I’ve heard it in the chilliest land
And on the strangest sea
Yet, never, in extremity
It ask a crumb of me.
 
–Emily Dickinson
 
Gratitude
 Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have in to enough and more.
It turns denial into acceptance,
Chaos to order, confusion to clarity.
It can turn a meal into a feast,
A house into a home,
A stranger into a friend.
Gratitude makes sense of our past,
Brings peace for today,
And creates a vision for tomorrow.
 
–John O’Donohue
 
Make every day a day of Thanksgiving
And continuous contentment will
Sparkle in your body, mind and soul.
 
–Paramahansa Yogananda

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Happiest of days to you and your family. We are so very grateful for each and every one of you!

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