During these few weeks between Thanksgiving and winter break, I find myself thinking about family — about the traditions mine had when I was young, about those my wife and I have instituted with our children, about loved ones I've lost, and about those I'm lucky to have around me. It's a bit of a hectic time for sure, but I try to not get caught up in the craziness and enjoy the moments this season brings.
As is true with everyone here at Solebury, I am blessed to have not only my actual family, but to also be part of the Solebury family, this wonderful community that allows both young and old to learn, grow, become our best selves, and have a lot of fun doing so. As is true with all families, there are several traditions that mark the holiday season and create moments where we can show our appreciation for one another and celebrate together. Thank you to my Solebury family for all the following traditions that bring a smile to my face and make this such a special place to live and work:
1) Cookies and Carols - Right before we go on break each December, we have an evening community gathering where we sing holiday songs and enjoy tables full of desserts.
2) Gift Giving - Many advisor groups like to hold a "pollyanna" gift exchange; each dorm does one as well. These groups are the smaller family units at Solebury, and they are so important to everyone's experience.
3) Boarder Holiday Dinner - A lovely dinner prepared by our chefs where faculty and students dress up a bit and enjoy a more formal meal together. The administration and faculty do the serving and cleaning.
4) My Family's Hanukkah Party - We invite Jewish boarders to come to our house (and to bring a bunch of their friends), as they are away from their parents for the holiday. We have a wonderful meal, lots of cookies, and a great time together.
5) Decorating - We give students the freedom to decorate lots of areas on campus — the dorms, the student lounges, etc. They do a great job being inclusive and of making our home look festive!
6) Faculty Follies - This is the very last school activity before winter break begins. Faculty and staff perform a variety of songs, dances, poetry, etc. We always preach the idea that it's important for students to take risks and put themselves out there, but this is a moment where we really practice what we preach. While the students laugh vigorously at us, I believe this value is hammered home to them.
For 26 years now, I've been a part of the Solebury family. My own children have lived on this campus since the day they came home from the hospital and have enjoyed many of these events their entire lives. While there are a million little moments that make it so, it's ones like those above that help me remember how fortunate we all are at Solebury.
Have a wonderful, safe, and joyous holiday season! And if anyone has a suggestion for a gift of under $10 for a 12th grade girl, let me know as that's the advisee I drew in my group's pollyanna.