As I write this column, I can feel the palpable excitement of our students as they wind their way through the last week before the Holiday Break. As we swing fully into the Holiday Season, with the Senior Citizen Brunch, the many Gateway Holiday Concerts, and the various activities in the schools and our communities, I am reminded of how fortunate we all are in so many ways.
The Gateway Educational Foundation (a non-profit organization dedicated to providing additional opportunities to Gateway’s students) was the beneficiary of almost $5,000 through the Valley Gives fundraising drive on 12.12.12. In addition, staff provided multiple gifts to 70 hilltown children identified by the Department of Children and Families. Not to be outdone, students held various activities to ensure others are able to enjoy the holidays, including purchasing presents for those in need and holding a coat drive.
With all of the activities occurring at this time of the year and the ‘winter’ blues from shortened days, coupled with the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it’s often easy to become a little stressed. We tend to forget that people of different faiths and ethnic backgrounds celebrate major events at this time of the year, events that have an historical and/or religious basis that’s easily overlooked and sometimes forgotten. As I am bombarded with the negativity of the national political discourse and what seems like endless bickering over how to avoid the fiscal cliff, as we struggle with the state’s reduction of education aid, as many of our neighbors to our immediate south continue to struggle to recover from ‘Sandy’, and as the community of Newtown, Connecticut struggles to understand and overcome the tragedy at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, it’s easy to overlook the positives and the enduring truths of the many holiday celebrations taking place at this time.
It appears that whether you celebrate Kwanzaa, the Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, or Christmas, you are celebrating hope, positive change and a time for reflection—things that certainly seem necessary at this time. I hope you take to heart the words of A.A. Willits—“Get into the habit of looking for the silver lining of the cloud, and, when you have found it, continue to look at it, rather than at the leaden gray in the middle. It will help you over many hard places.” Despite the challenges we face today, we still live in relative peace and prosperity, even considering the multiple tragic shootings throughout the U.S. and the amount of unrest, riots, and needless deaths throughout the rest of the world. It may be worthwhile, and provide a different outlook on life, to count our blessings at least as often as we count our trials and tribulations.
As we progress through the ‘Holiday’ Season and look towards the New Year, I wish you the very best and that your needs are fulfilled and your dreams remain alive. May this season bring you faith in the future, hope for better times, and opportunities to share the positives in your life with neighbors, friends and family.