Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever to him who alone does great wonders, His love endures forever. Who by his understanding made the heavens, His love endures forever. Who spread out the earth upon the waters, His love endures forever. Who made the great lights—His love endures forever. The sun to govern the day, His love endures forever. The moon and stars to govern the night; His love endures forever. To the One who remembered us in our low estate His love endures forever. And freed us from our enemies, His love endures forever. And who gives food to every creature. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever. Psalm 136:1-10, 23-26 (NIV)
History Fair is finally over. It was one of the hardest fair’s since we began almost twenty five years ago with thirty-three students competing. With changes in venues, timing and categories (elimination of elementary school), everything seemed different, but some thing remained the same. There will always be cranky parents, jittery students, clueless judges and exhausted staff. The worst moment of the event arrived late Friday afternoon with only sixteen hours until the awards ceremony when we realized the brand new data base was crashing. Our technology department worked for almost a year to create a way for us to more efficiently process student entries and assign prizes, but the program had only been tested with a handful of names. With over seven hundred entries, it could not handle the strain of sorting such a large amount of information and took five minutes for each prize to load. After multiplying that by two hundred and fifty and dividing by the number of hours remaining, our hearts momentarily stopped. We abandoned the computer and stayed long into the evening doing the work the old fashioned way with paper, glue and scissors as we literally cut and pasted student names from a master list to prize sheets. The next day, several dozen award presenters from a variety of community organizations roused early to greet a near empty auditorium because Saturday mornings are a bad time to host an event when every student in our community has a soccer game, band competition, fall festival or fundraiser. In the past, the awards program would have been held at night in an arena full of screaming students and cheering parents. This year, it was subdued and embarrassingly poor attended. Afterwards, my staff and I filled out our time cards with about fifteen hours of overtime each and drug ourselves home to naps. My toe was killing me, my ankles swollen and I don’t think I have any cartridge left in one knee. Despite the pain and disappointment, I remembered what one of my staff said. A man who usually sees the negative in everything and is not generally known for his optimism summed up the experience. “While I’m not glad we had to do things this way this year, we learned a lot that will make History Fair better in the future. We learned what is important and what we should focus on.” That’s true. Our goal of teaching students about the past and how it applies to their lives is still the same despite all the other changes. His attitude of being thankful after a difficult time, reminded me of the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving. That first Thanksgiving celebration was not held the year that they arrived at Plymouth Rock. It was held after months of despair and many deaths from starvation. It was after that dark time that they clearly saw God’s Hand at work and realized how much they had to be thankful for. How about you? In spite of hardship, give Thanks!