For Thanksgiving, many of us will engage in something of a pilgrimage home; a wayfaring back to our roots and to where we once spent a great deal of time…after the football game of course!
I love returning to the home I grew up in. I love the sights, the smells, the food. Most of all, I love the opportunity to connect my fading memories to real places, people, and things. In fact, just the other day as I was picking up my daughters from my parents’ house, I went upstairs to see my old bedroom and my brother’s old room. Seeing the rooms brings back memories of great times and memories of tough times. As a parent, I take for granted that my own kids’ bedrooms are a place of refuge for them, the kitchen table is a place for homework and dinner together, the downstairs is a place for family time and standing near the wood stove. If they return to our home as adults, they will feel the same feelings I feel when I return to my childhood home.
Yes, for many of us, a visit to our childhood home is nostalgic. The people living there now might be different and the front yard might have changed, but even decades later, its purpose remains unchanged: to serve as a safe place of refuge and harbinger of hopes and dreams.
In high school, music rooms serve a similar purpose. They are more than a rehearsal space. They serve as a refuge, home base, and hangout to our students. Our musical sanctuaries serve as a remembrance of the past, connection to the present, and launchpad for the future. They serve as a place to survive the growing pains of high school and safe harbor from the occasional storm of adolescence. They serve as a place to not only succeed and fail, but to take risks and be challenged. My high school band room did this for me and I know that it is doing the same for your children.
This was why I teach. This is what I love about this profession. This is what I remember, not just about my home in high school, but the one I am attempting to create for my students.
Yes, we work hard and make some incredible music. But, in the end, I suspect that those memories will fade far quicker than those related to laughter, joy, and the feeling that there was a safe place where your child can rise, fall, and be cared for regardless of the outcome.
The inhabitants of my building may change from period to period, day to day, and year to year, but like my home, its purpose remains the same: to be somebody’s harbor, safe space, and memory keeper.
So as we approach the Thanksgiving Holiday, let me say that I am thankful that you trust me with your children each and every day as I unlock the door and say, “Welcome home!”