When I was a kid, I loved the Friday after Thanksgiving.

My dad would trundle all five of us kids out to the garage to carry in boxes of Christmas decorations and we’d set to work draping the house in greens and reds.

Huddled over a cardboard box, I’d blow the dust off, then lift the flaps and gaze into a mess of ornaments wrapped in newspaper.

That smell… to this day, when we take out the ornaments, I’m reminded of lush green Douglas Fir trees and Johnny Mathis.


Today was the first day back from two weeks of Spring Break.

That’s right, 16 days.

Twenty-three thousand glorious minutes of restful mornings, cleaning projects, and video games.

Today, when I returned to my class, the smell took me back. The class had sat, unoccupied for 4.4% of a year, and in that time, had reverted back to the same smell that it had when I walked in on August 5th, 2011.

On August 5th, I pulled up to my new job, excited with the prospect of a new school, new colleagues, new students, and a new culture. I unloaded the cardboard boxes from my car with the same excitement as when my family decorated our house in the wheat fields of Eastern Washington fifteen years ago.

Even though the students dreaded returning to school today, I started the day with the enthusiasm of Christmas boxes.