Dear Flint Hill School Family,

It is hard to believe that the holidays are suddenly upon us.

I see lights and decorations in neighborhoods, beautiful Christmas trees have been put up, and gifts are packaged and ready for mailing. In our home we celebrate Christmas, and I take great delight in my collection of Santa, bringing them back out of the attic like old friends who have been away for a year. And every ornament that goes on the tree brings back memories of the students who gave them to Emily or me or different moments in our life journey when we purchased them. In fact, Emily spent an entire day this week wrapping gifts and preparing them to ship to our loved ones who live far away. It is an enormous task, but I know she takes great pride in collecting the gifts throughout the year and sending them out to everyone with love!

The holiday season touches all of us in various ways. I have always felt that there are three E’s that seem to come into play during this time of the year:

Emotions: With all the excitement that builds for the holiday, there is a lot of emotion that also comes throughout this time period. For some families who have experienced a loss during the year, this time of the year can be difficult and painful. But with everyone’s thoughts and prayers, we hope that eventually, the happy memories of being with those wonderful loved ones will overwhelm the sense of loss that we feel. Emotions can also come with the stress of hosting, travel and just getting ready for all that this season entails. Consider our Upper and Middle School students who are in the midst of exams this week. In our Upper School, we now have a therapy dog who has received a warm welcome from our students and faculty. And the “stress-free room” that our counselors have put in place has been in steady demand. Initiatives like these help our students keep a healthy perspective as they work through the exam period with the knowledge that at the end of this week, the holiday truly begins for them.

Energy: I am a firm believer in the “bucket of energy” theory. We all start a school year with a bucket of energy. This imaginary metal bucket is filled with energy, and as the year progresses, we slowly ladle energy out of the bucket based on our personal experiences. Some events may only cost a small amount of energy while other circumstances may require quite a bit. With weekends and breaks here or there, we get to work on refilling the bucket. The hope is to get to these special moments without hearing the “ping” of the bottom of the bucket. Occasionally, you can tell that the “ping” has been reached when we start to get sick with colds or the flu because we do not have the energy to fight them off any longer. With all of the excitement that we had this fall and with all the tremendous events and successes we experienced, we realize that it truly has been a season that has demanded energy, action and participation. Our wish for everyone as we get into the holiday season is that we get much-needed rest and relaxation through the change of pace, more sleep, and clearly the opportunity to refill that bucket that comes during a long break.

Enjoyment: Above all, we need to enjoy this special time of the year. Cherish the moments. Life goes by way too fast! Enjoy the lights, enjoy the time with family and friends, and simply enjoy sharing gifts with others. Spend time creating significant memories with our families.

For every one of you, on behalf of the entire Flint Hill faculty and staff, we wish you the very best during this holiday season. Everyone will be in our thoughts and prayers during this exciting time. We will continue our amazing journey together when we return in the new year.

Best wishes to you!

John M. Thomas