Dec 032010
Beautiful Boston Lights

Boston's Back Bay looks lovely with holiday decor.

The resounding song in my universe since returning from nine months of travel has been entitled: “Appreciation!”

There is nothing like being away from something for a time to make you re-see it in its original glory.

That said, life isn’t always a happy-shmappy song. Right now, for instance, I’m in a nutty mood.  My daily 5:30am alarm this morning was not enough to force me out of bed fast enough to catch the Orange Line train I wanted, so I missed the 6:30am bus connection at Ruggles station, so by the time at I arrived at the weekly faculty co-op breakfast (how nice is it that we have that?!) I had only 2 minutes to stuff banana bread and coffee into my face… not a moment too soon because without my usual addiction-feeding coffee at 5:55am, the caffeine withdrawal headache looms!

Then the piercing Homeroom bell shrieked, and I sprinted (or rather, shoved my way, as through a clotted artery) down the student-choked halls to enter the pitch dark classroom (the sun hadn’t quite risen) in which fourteen students were already sitting, waiting for me to turn on the light, because only a trained teacher can turn it on, given that the light fixtures are from roughly the year 1830 and are activated by (I kid you not) sticking a paper clip into a metal socket in the wall until you flip an internal wire.

Happy third night of Hanukkah!

Happy second night of Hanukkah!

Pant, pant, pant.  Whine, whine, whine.

And yet… this life is EXACTLY what I want right now.

In my career as a Boston teacher, I have seen major craziness (FAR crazier than sticking a paper clip in a wall socket each morning), but I have ALWAYS felt fulfilled, and felt that the work was worthwhile. Now, having been away from BPS for a year, I appreciate it so much more!  (This rejuvenation in the classroom is a major reason I started to urge and assist more teachers to take time to travel!)

The list of things I re-appreciate after a year abroad stretches on further than my long and gangly legs.  On an extremely practical level, I now worship my Medical Benefits and steady paycheck. What a difference that foundation makes!

But what I’m currently particularly excited about after a year’s hiatus are the SEASONS.  If you note my exact Around the World itinerary (Southeast Asia -> West Africa -> Iberia), you’ll realize: I have not seen winter in 2 years!  As for visuals, in wonderful Thailand (a Buddhist country), there were smatterings of Christmas decorations, but not many, and there was certainly no Hanukkah decor.  There were also no rainbow-colored leaves in autumn, and no graceful, bare trees in December.  There were oceans of wonderful things, but there was no family gathering, nor staff holiday party!

Boston holiday lights.

What a warm glow you feel inside when you see these lights.

So stroll with me around Boston with these photos, friends (whoops– I almost write “fiends,” which you certainly are not!), and feel that glow with me!

As splendiferous as palm trees and crystalline beaches are, there is nothing in the tropical world like the emotion of holiday lights on naked trees, glittering through wintery air.

What about you?  What are you appreciating lately, and why?


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  27 Responses to “The Glow of Appreciation after 2 Years Without Winter”

  1. I used to love in days of old how the Boston Common was decorated; Filene’s and Jordan Marsh in Downtown Crossing had their animated window decorations; and Faneuil Hall looked all festive. Alas Filene’s and Jordan Marsh have gone and Downtown Crossing seems to be forgotten; like the old “Combat Zone” has crept up and engulfed it. I was amazed because when I worked in downtown Boston, we used to walk up there for lunch and just watch the people and take in the sites and the sales.

    These pictures are great and thanks for sharing them with us! I know the Mall at the Pru used to spruce up for the holidays as did areas of the Back Bay and the Copley area. Hope you post more holiday pictures when the season starts up! 🙂

    • Though Filene’s Basement is no more, Downtown Crossing is NOT dying. Rather, it’s growing again in a great new way: hip restaurants and clubs, apartments (which my friends are moving into) and more. Indeed I will take photos there for the holidays, so stay tuned!

  2. What about me? I am a really good boy that wakes up every morning at 6:15 A.M. I work at my fullest at school, but I am still a human make mistakes! Right now I really appreciate how my friends are supporting me at everything and help me go through tough assignments.

  3. I really liked how you conjured all of the “Christmas time” holidays all together. Like how you had Hanukkah, which was very considerate to people from other religions. I have a connection to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, when Harry had his first Christmas at Hogwarts and they had different people from different places at Hogwarts, so they were really considerate towards the people that don’t celebrate Christmas.They had things from Hanukkah and Christmas which was really considerate towards Jewish people.

  4. One thing i really enjoy about these articles are the photos. They are really awesome and I these places quite often which makes the articles more exciting as I read them.

  5. I am appreciating the snow, because I’ve been wanting it to snow FOREVER!! I love the snow! I’m glad I’m in Boston because a couple years back I lived in Florida, where obviously there is no snow 🙁 I remember describing to my friends about the snow, and they looked at me as if I had two heads, because they’ve never actually seen snow, except on television.

  6. I appreciate my cousin, Lillie. I’m so lucky to have such interesting, thoughtful, caring, feeling people like Lillie in my life. Lots of love and happiness at the start of the holiday break! 🙂

  7. Hey Ms. Marshall! I was bored because I already finished my essay, so i decided to check out your website. The reason why I viewed this article, is because I was attracted by these pretty pictures. 🙂 I “laughed out loud” when I read how you ran down the halls and how you turned on the lights using a paper clip (I’ve always wondered why teachers had to stick them in there). I hope you have a Merry Christmas and see you in class tomorrow!

    (I hope i didn’t have any grammar demons in here!)

  8. I might be mistaken but didn’t you also go to Ghana this summer. Maybe that is what you meant about west Africa. This summer I was in Sudan. I left on June and came to school late as of September.

  9. its great to be back home, do you miss your adventure travels?

    • It is! And the wonderful thing is that, as a Boston teacher, I still have plenty of time to travel! This year: Spain, China, Greece, Tanzania, and India 🙂

  10. I loved the ways you described the hall ways. It’s so true! At least you don’t have to go through the clogged halls like seven times a day. The way you described Boston in the winter versus Thailand around Christmas, it makes me really appreciate the beautiful sights of Boston. I am currently appreciating winter too. I wrote about winter time in Boston in humanities class. I’m trying to skate often at Frog Pond before it closes in March. When the humid summer comes, that’s when I know I’m really going to want winter back. There’s so much to look forward to in winter in my perspective. There’s sledding, ice skating, the twinkling lights of Christmas, the joyful holiday music filling our ears, and who could forget the clean, fresh snow?

  11. Could you get shocked by turning on the lights?

  12. Honestly, New England is the best place to spend winter holidays. I know that Christmas is around the corner when I go to downtown, smell the roasting chestnuts and the smell of fresh air. I love it. I like the feeling when you walk inside your warm house after being out in the cold for so long. Your cheeks are icecold, nose is running, thighs are burning and you cant feel your fingers. Then you drink some hotchocolate, the warm feeling you get. Thats what i appreciate really

  13. Oh my Bieber! (because that’s who I worship now) Those pictures are sooo pretty! My favorite part of Christmas is, not the presents (those are a close second!), but the spirit. Everyone is in harmony. I can’t remember what war, but there was a war going on, and both teams stopped fighting on Christmas! It made me really happy to hear that. Anyway, do you like Yankee candles? Not that I’m buying one . . .

  14. Why don’t they have light switches like any other building? Why do you have to stick a paper clip into the wall?

  15. I am currently appreciating the radiator in my house, given the fact at school, most of the rooms are not heated.

  16. Why don’t they change the light switches to one of the modern ones. The lights are off a lot in my homeroom because the teacher has not arrived yet.

  17. In response to your question. I’m greatful for having a great english teacher. She is so nice and so funny. She knows how to be cool with students and interact with them. She’s one of my favorite teachers.

  18. I’m appreciating that my family is all healthy and home for the holidays, and that I have a new kitten, but I am also half upset that it hasn’t snowed yet.(even though my kitten who is an outdoor cat is pretty happy)

  19. I love the light switches at school. I actually know how to turn the lights on because my science teacher last year, Mr. Hocker, taught me and a few of my friends how to so his homeroom wouldn’t have to sit in the dark if he was talking to another teacher.

    I hate the cold winters here. But I love going into town.

    Do you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or a different holiday? I celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah. I only celebrate Hanukkah because my uncle is Jewish and when he married into the family (and when they had a son), my dad’s side of the family started half-celebrating the holiday because it is an excuse for our family to spend time together.

    • Interesting! In answer to your question, I celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas because my Mother is Jewish and my father is Christian. Because Judaism is matrilineal (passed down through mothers) and because of my upbringing, I identify as Jewish… though I do accept Christmas presents 🙂

  20. I imagine I will also have an appreciation for winter again once I return to the states next year and experience winter 2011/2012!

  21. Nice photos–the wet streets and sidewalks make the lights so bright!

  22. I remember you sprinting down the hall one morning. You definitely looked like you were in a hurry. Right now I really appreciate the people in my life. I have a supportive family, and I’ve met wonderful friends. 🙂

  23. I’m glad you’re appreciating cold winters because I surely don’t. I LOVE SUMMER! But of all the things in the world I appreciate my family the most, they are always there for me and I will forever love them dearly!

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