Holiday Magic

So it’s official…I have the holiday spirit! There’s something about this time of the year that puts an extra spring in my step, and puts an extra large smile on my face. I’m not sure if it’s the excitement of the upcoming holiday break, or the fact that we’ve had such a fantastic first semester but as I sit here and write this post (with my little Charlie Brown Christmas tree lit up in front of me) I feel as jolly as old Saint Nick. I have so many amazing memories of my winter breaks growing up…memories all tied around friends and family and traditions, and I’m sure most of you do as well. I love thinking back about the magic of Christmas time when I was a kid, and how desperately sure I was that Santa was going to somehow squeeze down through the chimney. I loved how everyone seemed to be just a little bit happier, and a little bit kinder, and a little bit more willing to give….it really felt like a magical time growing up, and to tell you the truth, in many ways it still does.

What I love most about this time of the year however, are the opportunities that we all have to give of ourselves to others, to reconnect with the people that we love, to reflect on the year that was, and to recharge and refocus for the upcoming year and semester ahead. We also get a chance over the next few weeks to share a little holiday cheer/spirit with others, and to spread some of that magic around to everyone we talk to. I guess I just want to casually remind you all of the beauty of this time of the year, and even though we have a busy last week ahead, take some time over the next five days to slow down and take a breath, and soak up all the positive energy that is spilling out from our students…..let’s smile a bit more, give out a few more hugs, and spread that holiday magic around!

I want to also wish you all a happy and healthy holiday season, and a happy and prosperous New Year. I’ve included a great link below to one of my favorite memories of Christmas time as a kid (John Denver and the Muppets), and I’ve also included a link to Nelson Mandela’s inauguration speech from 1994, as I know that we’re all thinking these days about what a remarkable man he was, and how he forever changed our world for the better……talk about spreading magic! Finally, I hope you enjoy the following poem by Bessie Rayner Parkes…..with a new year comes endless opportunities, so celebrate the good, learn from the bad, and reflect on how you can make 2014 your best year to date. Have a wonderful final week of the first semester everyone, and remember to be magical for our kids, and magical for each other.

New-year’s Eve and New-year’s Day
– Bessie Rayner Parkes

Good bye, Old Year!
And with thee take
Thanks for the gifts to every land
Thou broughtest in thy bounteous hand,
And all that thou hast taught to hearts thy lingering steps forsake.
Good bye, Old Year!
The Past awaiteth thee.
Who ruleth in her power alone
The kingdom of Oblivion.
Silent she sits in ebon chair;
Falling mists of dusky hair
Veil her dark eyes’ glorious shine,
Full of wise help, and truth divine.
Silent, unless a fitful sound,
As from some cavern underground,
Steal from her lips; the company
Of ancient Years that round her be,
Then chanting, one by one, give tongue
To old experience in their song.

Good bye, Old Year!
Thou goest forth alone,
As we shall do: thy pages gay,
Seasons and months who round thee lay,
Attend thee to Earth’s farthest verge, then back! to greet thy son.

Hail, New-born Year!
Cradled in morning clouds
Golden and white. I cannot see
Thy face–’tis wrapp’d in mystery;
But Spring for thee is painting flowers,
And Summer decks her woven bowers;
Rich Autumn’s sheaves will soon be reap’d,
With store of fruits in sunbeams steep’d,
And one by one with gentle hand folds back thy sunlit shrouds.

Hail, New-born Year!
Shining and beautiful,
Thou wilt step forth in plenitude
Of youth and its rejoicing mood.
Last child of the half-century,
And time of coming victory
Over the spirits of night and sin,
Whose howlings of defeat begin:
Thou bringest hope, and labour bless’d
In visions of successful rest,
Bringest great thoughts, and actions wrought
In fire upon that forge of thought,
And with the soul of earnestness I think thy youths are full.

Hail, New-born Year!
My utterance is too weak
To tell of all I think thou bringest,
To echo back the song thou singest;
But the very winds of Heaven for those who listen to them, speak!

Quote of the Week…….
There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.
– Nelson Mandela

John Denver and the Muppets – 12 Days of Christmas (an oldie but a goodie)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDBMzGq1vhs
Nelson Mandela’s Inauguration Speech
http://www.upworthy.com/on-may-10-1994-nelson-mandela-silenced-the-world-with-these-inspiring-words
TED Talk – Boyd Varty
http://www.ted.com/talks/boyd_varty_what_i_learned_from_nelson_mandela.html

About Daniel Kerr

Dan Kerr is now Lower School Director at the American School of Paris. He previously served as Intermediate Division Principal at Academia Cotopaxi American International School in Quito, Ecuador, and prior to that was the Middle School Principal at SCIS in Shanghai, China. Dan has also worked at JIS in Jakarta, Indonesia and he began his International career in Abu Dhabi. Dan is thrilled to be joining the ASP family and will be accompanied by his wife, Jocelyn, who will be working as a counselor, and his two children, Max and Gabby. 
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