This past week, the professional staff held its weekly meeting in the front conference room. The view from our floor is really amazing. You can see the autumn foilage, watch students all bundled up heading to class, and can get lost for hours imagining shapes in the clouds. I often do get lost in the pretty scenery until I realize that it’s my turn to give an update on Greek Life to the team and my Director chuckles as she caught me off guard! Here’s an example of the kind of beauty I’m looking at outside of our window:
Can you blame me for staring?
After each of our functional areas discusses the past, present, and future endeavors of the students involved, our Director gives her summary report of what was covered in senior staff meeting. I’m sure this isn’t atypical of any one else’s staff meetings, but my Director said something last week that really stuck with me…
“And finally, though we all may be excited that the holiday season is quickly approaching, let’s consciously not assume that our students are just as excited. The truth is, we don’t know what home is like for them. We don’t know if they go home to dysfunction, abuse, or a lack of attention. We don’t know if their holidays are filled with warmth and love. For some of our students, we are all they have. So before you all go and get festive, keep our students in mind–and remember never to make an assumption.”
I noticed everyone in the room nodding their heads in approval. For once, I had a moment of blankness.
I sat and thought about what my Director said more intently. I pictured one of my students (not for any other reason than the fact that she was the first I thought of) and asked myself, “I wonder what her holidays are like? Actually, I don’t think I have ever asked about her family.”
Admittedly, I’m still working through this. See, I personally LOVE the holidays. My family celebrates Christmas, but I always attend multi-faith celebrations with friends, family, students, and fraternity brothers every year. The one thing uniting all celebrations is this nostalgic feeling of warmth, joy, and unity. I often also start craving holiday meals around this time, too!
But then I think…here I am playing holiday music starting November 1st. As students walk by or walk into my office and ask “Matthew, are you seriously playing Christmas music right now?! It’s not even Thanksgiving!”–they may actually be dreading leaving campus.
As I’m still trying to process this learning moment, I turn it all back to you…
- How can we bridge individual celebration while being sensitive to the experiences of others?
- Should the “professional” avoid the “Happy Holidays v. Merry Christmas” debate?
- Are we celebrating too much and concerning ourselves with others too little?
- What does/can “Happy Holidays” actually mean?