May This Season Remind Us of the “All-Powerful Joy” of Life Itself

Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.

This beautiful sentiment expresses perfectly how the teachers and I feel about all the “charming gardeners”—the bright-eyed children—who pass through our portals each day. Indeed, we feel this way about every member of our school community, particularly at this time of year, when our holiday celebrations are tinged with fond feelings and memories.

It was none other than Marcel Proust who penned those words, the Proust of the famous dipping-a-madeleine-in-tea moment, which he wrote about in the first book of his seven-volume novel Remembrance of Things Past. As the adult Proust savors a tea-soaked cookie at the end of a dreary winter day, “the whole vast structure of recollection” of his boyhood returns to him, for he had once eaten madeleines dipped in lime blossom tea with his aunt as a child. The taste sparks memories of “all of the flowers in our garden and in M. Swann’s park, and the water lilies on the Vivonne and the good folk of the village …” Proust’s description stands to this day as one of the finest in literature of the astonishing power of sense-memory that children possess.

In the midst of the hustle and bustle of the holidays, we hope you will remember that the five weeks from Thanksgiving to New Year’s are nothing less than sensory feast for your children. Someday they will be as awash in sensory memories as Proust was, and many of their most poignant remembrances will be sparked the delicious fragrances coming from the kitchen, the glow and heat of a roaring fireplace, the clinking of glasses raised for a toast and, of course, your soothing touch at bedtime. The senses help them, and all of us, to decipher the world and, on these special occasions, to feel safe and loved.

We hope your holiday season is rich in the homey, happy experiences that will linger in your children’s memories, those moments of shared pleasure that “make our souls blossom.” May you, too, experience what your children do at this time of year—what Proust described as “the all-powerful joy” of life itself, as it is lived through the senses.

With warm wishes for a happy new year,