On Friday I tried to plan as low-key a day as possible. We watched Wallace and Grommit movies, ate popcorn, colored winter coloring sheets and made marshmallow ornaments that no one remembered to bring home so I had to throw them in the garbage at the end of the day.
We also opened some gifts. I sat the kids down on the group time rug after lunch and brought a paper shopping bag over. I told them that someone visited my house last night and I woke to find presents under my tree with their names on them. They guessed it was Santa and their eyes lit up. Literally. They looked so excited!
One at a time I pulled wrapped gifts from my bag and took a moment to find the name written on it and then passed each gift to one of them. They tore open the wrapping and excitedly shared the winter hats Santa had sent them. There would have been reason for disappointment because only one could get the Batman hat but because they were gifts from Santa you could see that disappointment slip away as they pulled their hats on.
Then I pulled out Play Doh sets for each of them. As I watched them excitedly rip packages open I turned to one of my assistants and told her, “Who needs kids?! I’ve got my own little Christmas morning right here!” It was probably the best feeling I’ve had with the kids in a while. That I could give them that moment of joy, excitement and belief and that they could make me feel like all the hard work I put in each day is so very worth it. They spontaneously thanked me even though I reminded them the gifts were from Santa. Then, just like on Christmas morning they opened all the Play Doh and I brought their laminated mats to the rug. They played with the Doh, each wearing their hats (and two wearing mittens that came with the hats) and watched Wallace and Grommit until the Student of the Month assembly.