Christmas Cheer, College-Style (in Puerto of course)

21 Dec

“Teacher, why are the other English teachers showing movies in class while we take a quiz?” My students whined. “Because I’m mean,” I grinned. I had a brief flashback to my mother telling me something similar when I’d whine about what other kids got to do and what other moms did/didn’t do/allowed. So I stuck to my guns and gave the quiz, even though I wanted to cancel it just as much as they did. I will learn from this lesson for next year, though. My boss warned me- December is pretty much a write-off. It was the day before their Christmas parade, and technically they still had a half day of classes the next day, but really their brains had been on vacation most of the week already. I couldn’t blame them; I’d also spent more of my planning time than I’d like to admit looking at cookie recipes and planning Christmas crafts for me and Lucia to do. Thank baby Jesus for this vacation! Students and teachers alike obviously needed it.

So on Friday we all had to be there, but nobody’s heart was in the academics. Even administration officials were on the cheerful side with the incredible breakfast provided for staff. This year the food included 5 different kinds of salad, plus some nicely spiced fish, chicken, and pork dishes. We got to sample all of it, and it was all delicious! I even decided to forego the cake in favor of more apple-cream-something salad. It was a big change from last years fried tacos or tamales. Best of all, after everyone was finished they handed out to-go boxes, which I certainly took advantage of to share the love with the family at home.

In the afternoon was the moment we’d all been waiting for (okay, well, some of us more than others): the university’s Christmas parade! In honor of the event (which was my first time since they’d canceled it last year), they were giving staff the option of staying for their regular schedule, till 7pm, or clocking out early and attending the parade. If you clock out early and don’t support students in the parade, they warned in their sternly worded official letter posted around the university, it will count as an unexcused absence!

Some of my coworkers opted to stay until 7, and theoretically I should have stayed to grade more godawful quizzes and be done with it. But hell, no! I was actually thrilled about the Christmas parade, thanks to having an excitable three year old daughter. There was an event the same evening at her school, where kids were going to dance and sing and such. We were supposed to buy her a red felt skirt and other femenine-Santa crap, and so I was secretly thrilled when I asked her to choose which event she wanted to attend, and she chose the parade at my work! Especially because I was going to have to go regardless, or risk losing the afternoon’s pay. And I really wasn’t excited about her Mrs. Claus-or-whatever outfit.

Plus, the parade was really exciting! “Your students are going to throw out candy?” Lucia asked, since that had been part of the selling point, and I confirmed. She doesn’t even like non-chocolate candy that much, but she LOVES the idea of it. For me, the mere idea of getting off two hours early to spend time with my family was enough to have me over the moon. So I clocked out at 5:01 and strolled down to the parking lot to check out the progress on the floats and wait for the kiddos to get there with Conan.

And it was actually exciting! Granted, typical style for down here, nothing was ready at 5. We didn’t all get out of the parking lot till about 6:30, so I probably could have graded the rest of those pesky quizzes if I had known. But my heart wasn’t in it anyway. It was way more fun to see all the (grown-up) kids working so diligently on something.

Each major did their own float with its own theme. They’d been working on it for days, or weeks already in some cases. Since some of the Zootecnia (Animal Husbandry) kids live down the street from me, I’d seen them working on theirs for a couple weeks already. Mostly they used recycled materials, too. Like a “tree” made from plastic bottles that they cut and painted white, or another major’s tree made from used newspaper and cardboard boxes. My favorite, though, was the nursing students’ float with a tree that’s torn between autumn and winter. Not that we have autumn here. But it was really pretty. Here’s my excited but just-woke-up-from-nap grumpy three year old on top of that float.

umarela lu

Too groggy to be sleepy, Lucia doesn’t know how

Lots of students dressed up for it, with different themes. There were fairies and elves and Mrs. Clauses and mimes- and that was just the nursing students! The biology students dressed like animals. The Zootecnia students were mostly too cool to dress up, except for a couple Minnie and Mickey Mouses on their Disney-themed float. We didn’t get many pictures, because we got caught up in walking with the parade. We walked all the way to the end, with Lucia in the stroller and Khalil in the “backpack” with me.

umarela k

Khalil dressed up, too!


my favorite tree


the nursing float, PRESENTE!


They worked so hard on these adorable outfits! It made me feel young just watching them!

Lucia got some candy. I got some exercise. Khalil got more attention than he could stand, and worked a nap in there on my chest. Conan was very laid-back about it all. My students saw that I am in fact interested in what they do outside of class, and that I’m also a human outside of my mean old class (with a family and everything!). It was certainly an all-around success. There was more event happening at the end of the line, but by then it was everybody’s bedtime and we had to bow out. But we made it! We kicked off Christmas vacation in style! I’ll tell y’all about the rest of Christmas break later. Hope you’re having half as much fun as we are! Feliz Navidad!

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