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The Woman Behind Thanksgiving

Looking for something “new,” or, screen-shot-2016-11-24-at-11-04-13-ambetter yet, something besides politics to chat about at Thanksgiving dinner this year? Why not throw this patriotic piece of trivia into the table conversation mix.

While listening to our pastor at church last night (Thanksgiving eve) I was interested to learn that a woman may have been behind our beloved 4th Thursday in November proclamation made by President Lincoln.

Apparently, Sarah Josepha Hale may be the “woman behind the man” in this particular holiday instance.

Hale, a native New Englander, grew up celebrating Thanksgiving each year and was known for writing published works about the holiday. However, you and I will remember her mostly for penning the children’s poem “Mary Had a Little Lamb,”—which in time became a song we grew up singing.

Yet her writing was not merely literary. She was so passionate about this concept of giving thanks that she lobbied state and federal officials requesting they consider passing legislation of a national day built around it. The impetus was in hopes that by doing so, the act would bring the country’s citizens together and help alleviate the cultural tensions of the day. Alas, a Civil War soon followed anyway.

pieYou can read more about her story. (I am sure you will have some time to google it today.) But for now, just know you might have a fresh talking point to go with that pie and coffee.

Thankful for you readers, and wishing you a lovely, peaceful and restful day…

-Cheers!
S.

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A Long Way from Mason Street…

img_2143-mason-street-schoohouse-stamp

Mason Street Schoolhouse Old Town San Diego

When I was a young girl, living in the San Diego area (Escondido, CA), my maternal grandmother was devoted to making sure I had a healthy view of the world. Not only that, she was adamant that I learn culture and that I be exposed to it. She was also extremely keen on my being politically aware. All of the above passions, I can proudly say, she passed along to me.

On one of our usual excursions, she took my mother and me to Old Town San Diego for the day. There I experienced a step back in time, to another era, and another America really. I recall being stunned by what I found. Not the room or the desks, but what was nailed to the wall is what burned into my memory and my mind. What am I referring to?  The framed Expectations of a Teacher and the Punishment List which featured the exact consequences poorly behaved attendees would face.

mason-street-schoolhouseLong before I would attend night school to become a credentialed teacher myself, I learned that educators of yesteryear, and our country, were now a far cry from the schools I knew of even my day. In that early pioneer environment, however, there was not a lot of flexibility or room for discussion, as we will see below.

It’s hard for us to imagine, when you review the 1872 Instructions for Teachers, that someone would commit their life to that standard. But they did. Inspite of what folks today might cry out as “horrific” or “abusive,” amazingly, we as a nation survived, and evolved, and the rural students who attended got some good educations.

It’s even harder still to imagine, in the world of today, that those mean, cruel teachers would actually carry out the punishments that were tacked to schoolhouse walls without parents screaming for them to step down or be removed. But they didn’t. They supported the teacher.

Now, that being said, I don’t condone the teacher who slapped my paternal grandmother’s hand with a ruler because she used her left hand! Thank the Lord we have moved past that bizarre mindset.

If you don’t know what I am referring to, and if you haven’t had a chance to visit a place like the Mason Street Schoolhouse, here is a quick sharing of what I am referring to….

1872 Instructions to Teachers Mason Street School

1872 Instructions to Teachers

1872 INSTRUCTIONS TO THE TEACHERS
1. Teachers will fill lamps, clean chimneys and trim wicks each day.

2. Each teacher will bring a scuttle of coal and a bucket of water for the day’s use.

3. Make your pens carefully. You may whittle nibs for the individual tastes of children.

4. Men teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes or two evenings if they go to church regularly.

5. After ten hours in the school the teacher should spend the remaining time reading the Bible and other good books.

6. Women teachers who marry or engage in other unseemly conduct will be dismissed.

7. Every teacher who smokes, uses liquor in any form, frequents pool or public halls, or gets shaved in a barber shop will give good reasons to suspect his worth, intentions, integrity and honesty.

8. The teacher who performs his labors faithfully without fault for five years will be given an increase of 25 cents a week in his pay — providing the Board of Education approves.

Mason Street Schoolhouse

1872 Punishments

Punishments
1. Boys and Girls Playing Together: 4 lashes
2. Fighting at School: 5 lashes
3. Quarreling at School: 5 lashes
4. Gambleing or Betting at School: 4 lashes
5. Playing at Cards at School: 10 lashes
6. Climbing for Every Foot Over Three Feet Up a Tree: 1 lash
7. Telling Lyes: 7 lashes
8. Telling Tales Out of School: 8 lashes
9. Giving Each Other Ill Names: 8 lashes
10. Swaring at School: 8 lashes
11. For Misbehaving to Girls: 10 lashes
12. For Drinking Spiritous Liquors at School: 8 lashes
13. Making Swings and Swinging on Them: 7 lashes
14. For Waring Long Finger Nails: 2 lashes
15. Misbehaving to Persons on the Road: 4 lashes
16. For Going to Girls Play Places: 3 lashes
17. Girl Going to Boys Play Places: 3 lashes
18. Going to School with Dirty Faces and Hands: 2 lashes
19. Calling Each Other Liars: 4 lashes
20. For Wrestling at School: 4 lashes
21: For Weting Each Other Washing at Playtime: 2 lashes
22. Scuffling at School: 4 lashes
23. For Going and Playing about the Mill or Creek: 6 lashes
24. For going about the Barn or doing any Mischief about the Place: 7 lashes

It truly is interesting to revisit and reflect upon our history. And too, to review it against where we are today. What parts of what we see are good and worth keeping, and what areas might need a refresher course or gentle reminder of things that are better or best? Whereas our country was more on the same page in those “olden” days, and seemed to fall in step, in today’s world, we have moved more to personal truths—not a core or foundational truth shared by the masses. So, I guess, this conversation would be more objective these days.

Whatever the case, taking stock personally is where it all should, and actually does, begin.

In the coming week, let’s challenge each other to view what part of this  history lesson encourages us, inspires us or lights up our passion. If you would like to share, I’d love to hear….info@stephaniehuffman.org. Or, just leave a comment!

With that, just my thoughts.

S.

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What’s New?

statue-of-liberty-1045266_1280It’s interesting how the term “What’s new?” has changed. It used to be a type of greeting, asking the receiver of those words how they were doing and inquiring of them hoping to learn what all was going on in their life.

Lately, it’s used as a more sarcastic response and as an answer, rather than as a question. It has come to mean more of an “I’m not surprised” retort. A way of saying some things just don’t go the way you want or better yet, “That’s just the way it is.”

Solomon, in the book of Ecclesiastes, talks about how there is nothing new under the sun. We can try to be cutting edge, or stay one step ahead, but basically, we just repeat something that has, in all honesty, already been done before—in some sort of fashion.

This past week in America we held our presidential elections. At my age, I have now seen quite a few. One side always wins and one side always loses. What’s new about that? Nothing. What is a bit new these days is how people, today, handle the results.

I don’t recall destroying someone else’s property, shutting down freeways, beating someone up (who has the freedom to vote as they choose) or my professors canceling my tests or classes if my side didn’t win. Those were never options. At least, in my mind. For that matter, I don’t recall anyone else thinking or doing the same as I look back. Sure, I was upset and I prayed all the harder when my side lost, but it does feel a bit “new” to me when I see the changes in how we as a country currently respond.

What isn’t new is wanting to have our way. In the past, I think we tried to be mature Patriots and take the high road. We tried to be good sports. We were aware someone would not be the winner. Today, instead, we lecture people on how they should act and respond once the decision is made. But if the decision doesn’t meet to our liking, we don’t take our own advice. The message suddenly doesn’t apply when “our” side loses. At that point, it’s “game on!”

But is that actually “new?” Not really. Again, from the beginning of time, man has wanted his own way. You don’t have to teach a child to throw a tantrum when you say “no” or hold firm on an issue. It’s just human nature.

That’s the hard part. Fighting against, not each other, but the innate will and determination to get my own way —come you-know-what or high water.

I wish I would have learned much earlier in my life—that part about the what I expected of others, when the shoe was suddenly on the other foot, finding they would be expecting the same of me.

I guess some people learn quickly. I don’t think I truly did. But I am grateful for the opportunity for each new day to, perhaps, turn it around and begin anew.

At this point, I am asking those in my circle to pray for ourselves. To get it right in our own lives. And then, to pray for our country. Join me?

– S.

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