A Anniversaries. I don’t just acknowledge my wedding anniversary. Also marked on my calendar are the anniversaries celebrating the days my husband and father stopped smoking, the anniversaries celebrating the days we bought our cars, and the anniversary commemorating the day we moved into our home.
B Birthdays. Birthdays are about showing some extra-love. Happy Birthday banners are hung in the living room. A cake is presented on a ceramic plate decorated with a picture of a birthday cake. Presents, cards, and e-cards. Phone calls throughout the day. A special meal at a favorite restaurant.
C Cambria vacation. Cambria is located along the central coast of California and is described as being halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. For me, Cambria is the place I go for peace. Every year, my husband and I journey up the coast in search of tranquility, a slower pace, and a chance to re-connect (with ourselves and each other).
D December holidays. Growing up, my family celebrated Chanukkah and Christmas (with our own modifications, including no religious contexts). Now that I’m a parent, I continue in my parents’ footsteps. Each December we purchase a live Christmas tree. My son helps decorate the tree just as he helps light our menorah. For us, the holidays are about decorations, wrapping presents, singing songs, and being together.
E Easter. For my husband, it means lots of sweets. For my son, it means painting hard-boiled eggs and searching our living room Easter morning for hidden plastic eggs.
F First day of school. The anxieties haven’t disappeared since I became a teacher; they’ve just changed. And, like my students, I too will miss days consisting of later bedtimes, later wake-up times, and no homework.
G Grandparents Day. Honestly, this day didn’t really have significance until the year my son was born. Now, we celebrate Grandparents Day each September with cards and gifts. And like Mother’s Day, one day isn’t nearly enough to express our gratitude and appreciation for all my parents do as grandparents.
H Halloween. As a teacher, it’s one of those days you have to get through - with kids coming to school wearing costumes decorated with blood. Then there’s the next day - it’s like a candy hangover for children. With my son, Halloween is, so far, a day to wear a costume and let Mommy take a picture. He’s not big on trick-or-treating, but I’m sure that will change very soon.
I Income taxes. It’s not something I look forward to, but it’s there looming, waiting for me every year.
J January 1st. New Year’s Day. A day that means a fresh start. A day to set some goals, a day to change the calendar hanging on my kitchen wall. A day to start writing the new
K Kids’ names. As in, each fall I’m required to learn the names of a new group of children who will be “my kids” for the year. Some years it’s more of a challenge than others - some names are unusual and difficult to pronounce. I make it my personal goal, to know each child by name by the second day of school.
L Listening to certain songs. Some songs are really only heard yearly. Some examples are “Auld Lang Syne,” “Here Comes Peter Cottontail,” “Oh Hanukkah,” and “Santa Baby.”
M March. Yes, everyone experiences the month of March once a year. In our family, March is a busy month. My parents celebrate their wedding anniversary. My husband and I celebrate the anniversary of our first date. My son and my mother celebrate their birthdays on the same day, and I celebrate my birthday three days after my parents’ anniversary.
N Nearsightedness. Or farsightedness. Each year I visit my optometrist where he asks me to read random letters from the chart across the room. He dims the lights and looks deep into my eyes, all while trying to determine the general health of my eyes.
O Organization of closets. Every year, usually summer, I re-organize a closet (two if I’m really ambitious). I take things off shelves and re-fold, re-sort, re-designate (keep, throw away, donate).
P Passover. I’m not religious, and don’t adhere to the “rules” associated with the holiday. My toaster remains out on my kitchen counter, and I continue to enjoy a bagel for breakfast during this week. For me, Passover is about the food. Matzo (or as my son calls it “matzo crackers”) and matzo brie.
Q Quake drill. Living in California means all public schools conduct a yearly earthquake drill. I stress the importance of my students’ dropping, covering their necks, and turning away from any windows. I remind them that our school is over eighty years old and has survived several large earthquakes. I remind them, again, that I will always do everything I can to keep them safe. (I conveniently omit the part about my own fear of earthquakes).
R Receipt review. Every year, I sort through my file of receipts to determine which ones I still need to keep and which ones can be shredded.
S Sea lions, sharks, and sea horses. Or, our yearly pilgrimage to the aquarium. It began the summer I learned I was pregnant. Actually, it was the day I took the home pregnancy test. I joined my sister and nephews on a trip to the aquarium. Since then, every summer, my husband and I venture with our son to the aquarium. Each year it’s a slightly different experience depending on my son’s age and which exhibits interest him the most.
T Thanksgiving. In our family, it’s a Thanksgiving “luner” - a meal combining lunch and dinner. My mom consistently prepares a tender turkey, meat falls off the bones as my dad carves. And then there’s the left-overs. For me, that means cold turkey dipped in ketchup.
U Unchain classroom closets. Each June, I pack up my classroom, empty my desk, and take down posters. I stuff my closets full, then chain them up. You never know what will happen during the summer, and when I first started teaching, a veteran teacher advised me to always chain my closets. Each fall, before the official start of the school year, I return to my classroom, unchain the closets, and start setting up my classroom for a new school year.
V Valentine’s Day. It’s one of those holidays that has taken different meanings throughout the years. When I worked in a flower shop, I detested Valentine’s Day. It was one of our busiest days,with most people wanting red roses (so boring). Then we got engaged on Valentine’s Day. A year later we were married on Valentine’s Day, and now I’m a fan of the day.
W Winter Holiday Cards. It’s the time of the year when I feel like a bit of a hypocrite. I send out cards wishing “Seasons Greetings” to people I don’t have a whole lot of contact with during the rest of the year (mainly my in-laws). I send the cards out of a feeling of obligation (my husband wants us to).
X Exams. Each May, my students complete standardized state tests, primarily in
Language Arts and Math. All year long, I teach them everything they are supposed to know to succeed on these tests. I tell my students that when I was a student I didn’t like taking these tests. As a teacher, I don’t like administering them. I don’t think exams adequately measure how I taught or my students learned.
Y Yearly checkup. I’m sure I’m more excited by this appointment than my son. As mommy, though, I’m always happy to hear my son’s numbers (weight and height) and of course, to receive affirmation that my son is healthy and strong.
Z Chinese Zodiac. Each year I introduce my students to the Lunar New Year, aka Chinese New Year. We learn about the animals of the Chinese zodiac and while I read the descriptions for each animal we try to determine if they match. Do they think I am a stereotypical dragon - driven, unafraid of challenges, and passionate?