Even before my first son had started kindergarten, a neighbor had told me that his teacher, a woman named Mrs. Kelley, always planned her year around the different holidays. I soon discovered that Mrs. Kelley also liked to seek help from the parents. She requested items that she could use—items such as Xmas cards.
Her five-year-old students liked to cut out Christmas-themed items from Xmas cards and paste them onto the Christmas stockings that they were making. Cutouts from the cards could also be used to decorate wrapped gifts. Sometimes Mrs. Kelley reserved one or more of the Xmas cards for use in January.
No doubt the reader is wondering why a teacher would have need of a Christmas card in January. That is a month when most people want to put aside all Christmas card ideas and thoughts, and to start the New Year with a fresh slate of resolutions.
Perhaps the reader is familiar with the traditions of a certain Christian sect. The members of the Russian Orthodox Church celebrate Christmas a week later than the other denominations. They exchange gifts on New Year’s Eve or New Years Day. Perhaps the reader expects to be told that Mrs. Kelley provided her students with details about that belated Christmas celebration.
However, Mrs. Kelley had not made her original schedule with thoughts about any January holidays. Later, when the Congress voted for making the Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday a holiday, she adapted her schedule to include an extra holiday. Still that was not a holiday that required Christmas cards. Why then did she save one or more cards?
Mrs. Kelley knew that in January she would begin teaching the alphabet. She knew that she would want pictures of things that start with each of the twenty-six letters in the alphabet. She liked to have pictures of items the students could identify with. She knew that they would pay attention to a lesson that recalled the recent Christmas festivities.
Mrs. Kelley knew that when she taught the letter “G” she could grab the students’ attention by showing them pictures of Christmas gifts. She knew that when she introduced the letter “S” she could use pictures of Santa Clause and Christmas stockings
Sometimes Mrs. Kelley managed to discover a Christmas card with a picture of mistletoe or holly. Then she would save those to use while teaching the letters “M” and “H.” An occasional Christmas card would contain a picture of a fireplace or a chimney. Those could be used during the days when the students needed to learn the letters “F” and “C.”
As a mother who had two sons guided by the teaching skills of Mrs. Kelley, I wanted to do my part to contribute to her established method of instruction. I therefore made a point of collecting all sorts of Xmas cards while my sons were in their first years of elementary school.