A Handmade Christmas
Saturday morning. This means bacon and eggs, Amanda’s grits if you’re lucky, and then time for morning work crew at OA. Students last Saturday, however, buzzed about the Sun Lodge with unusual energy: we were getting ready to march in the Brevard Christmas parade. Reindeer antlers, red and green costumes, ukuleles, and even a knitting needle or two came out of the woodwork. A group of students and I were tasked with creating several Christmas wreaths to go on a big red canoe that would be carrying two very cute small children.
We headed over to my front yard, took stock (a mysterious red berried bush, a holly tree, and infinite boughs of evergreen), and got to work. Listening to the holiday music of Vince Guaraldi, drinking hot chocolate, and making decorations was such a nice way to spend time with the students and acknowledge that the season of winter is indeed here. I loved how the students went about planning for their role in the parade—nearly everything was handmade, including the banner that read, “A Handmade Christmas.”
And so the seasons of giving in our Western and OA cultures coincide. Last Friday, the students and staff of Semester 39 celebrated our final evening together with a long-standing tradition here, Giving Day. Each gift had been thoughtfully created with its recipient in mind, and each gift had been made by hand. Most of us were so excited to give our gift that the fact that we would be receiving one in kind almost came as an afterthought. It is paradoxical, and yet, this night is often my favorite night of the semester, though it means I will be saying good-day to these students I have gotten to know so well in these last few months. Thank you, thank you, Semester 39, for what has truly been an incredible experience at The Outdoor Academy. I will miss seeing you on campus. And please, keep in touch.
Katie Harris, Dean of Academics, English Teacher, and Wilderness Leader