December 20, 2017
I am sure you have seen the "Life is Good" clothing with the Jake stick figure depicted in many outdoor activities. While I am a fan of the simple sentiment this company markets so well, I have always preferred the word "wonderful" rather than "good." Maybe it's because of the Gershwin song "'S Wonderful," or the holiday movie, "It's a Wonderful Life," but instead of saying "Life is Good," I've always favored "Life is Wonderful."
About 15 years ago, on a snowy December 25th, I was outside shoveling during a Chicago blizzard while listening to the radio with a headset. At the time, I did not know much about Austin, Texas and had absolutely no idea I would one day live here. Unknowingly, a voice from Austin's past echoed in my headset as I listened to a touching, heartwarming tale. That morning, NPR's Morning Edition replayed a John Henry Faulk recording. At the time, I knew little of John Henry Faulk, an American humorist and storyteller born in Austin in 1913, later graduating and then teaching at the University of Texas. With no understanding of the Austin/UT connection, I shoveled the snow and listened to his folksy voice. After a few minutes, I stopped shoveling, and stood captivated and just listened while snowflakes danced in the frigid air. In his tale, Mr. Faulk captured the magic of the season from an impoverished family's humble perspective. By the end of the recording, I had a tear in my eye and warm glow in my heart. "Wonderfulest" is a phrase from that same radio show. Each year, Faulk's "Christmas Story" remains one of National Public Radio's most-requested holiday narratives.
Faulk's story is a slice of Americana, with its awkward idioms of the Depression era expressed from a child's unpretentious view. Regardless of your religious or ethnic affiliations – whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Las Posadas, Diwali, Kwanzaa, Eid al-Adha, other holiday traditions, or none at all – I thought you might appreciate the common truths of this classic tale. While you are baking cookies, drinking hot chocolate, wrapping gifts or packing for a trip, take 10 minutes, sit down, relax your eyes and listen to Faulk's unique story that embraces the real spirit of giving, contentment and acceptance.
Despite economic realities in Mr. Faulk's tale or any stressors in our lives, this is a special time of year. As our staff, students and their families prepare for a much-deserved break in the school calendar, let me add to the chorus of greetings and well wishes. After enjoying a great 2017 with our students, staff and community, I look forward to re-joining everyone refreshed and rested for a wonderful 2018 in Eanes ISD.
Dr. Tom Leonard, Superintendent of Schools | firstname.lastname@example.org
Eanes Independent School District, 601 Camp Craft Road, Austin, Texas 78746