Chain, Chain, Chain

Chain of schools

It's that time again...actually, about a week early. Blame it on an early Easter!

Julie was always looking for ways to boost employee morale, whether it be cooking and serving food, gifts at Christmas, birthday and get well name it, Julie would do it.

After Spring Break, it's nothing but school until Memorial Day..."hard time" with no months down, FOREVER to go!

Compounding the feeling of despair throughout the hallowed halls...the "eagerness" of the children to soak up every bit of knowledge possible before another summer robs them of educational opportunities! Yeah, right!

Well, whatcha gonna do about it? Actually...nothing. Grin and bear it...this too shall pass!

Enter Julie...and her end-of-the-year countdown chain!

Just when spirits reached rock bottom and that hang-dog expression appeared (even on the faces of CATs!), TA DA, Julie would unveil "the chain"...turning frowns upside down.

So, wherever Julie went, her chain followed. BUT, Julie never, ever, forgot her "roots"...good ol' Cairo High School (a.k.a. Cairo Junior/Senior High School). After her exile in 1995, Julie simply made TWO chains.

Shoulda heard folks at the high school fret in the Spring of 1996...what will we do without Julie's chain?! How will we make it to the end!?

I could have told them not to worry, but I will have to confess a streak of meanness. I let them stew in their juices...until the day of the unveiling. Ya shoulda seen their smiling faces.

Incidentally, you should also have seen the reaction of the "newbies", mystified at the sight of grown (hell, OLD), educated professionals ready to get down and party when the chain went up...the almost fights to be an honored person, the person who got to remove a precious link...that would make that chain grow shorter! The newbies would simply shake their heads, wondering why dedicated professionals would be so eagerly counting the days until the end of school.

Until the next year...

Many the time that the now not-quite-so-newbie would ask (sometimes BEFORE Easter)...uh, when does the chain go up? Be patient, we would reply...not until it's time, usually with 30 school days to go.

Oh, I must also mention the "great debate"! Each unveiling season would be met by a "friendly discussion" as to exactly WHEN a link should be removed. One segment of the population - the really, really anxious group - wanted to remove the link at the beginning of the day. In short, if today was day 30, they believed that link #30 should be removed in the morning...we're already here...this day's done!

No, no proclaimed the competing group! You never, ever remove a day's link until the day is over - i.e. link #30 is removed on the morning of day 29! Do NOT mess up our chain!

The above discord is simply reflective of the eternal "glass half full" versus "glass half empty" philosophical debate. (By the way, the "correct answer" to the above dilemma is the do NOT remove links until the day has been completed. Hey, this old dog - omigod - experienced a bomb threat back in the 1970's. We got sent home by 9 a.m. and had to repeat the day! As they say, it ain't over till it's over!)

About a month ago, I began thinking of the chain...and how Julie wasn't here to do the honors. It probably comes as no surprise that I would NOT allow such a void. The line from one of our favorite movies says it all..."Tradition...without our traditions, we are as shaky a fiddler on the roof."

Last week, one of our dear friends (yeah, I still use the collective terms) commented that she had been thinking of doing the chain this year...but that she just couldn't..."So, I guess we won't have a chain." I tipped my hand and told her not to fear...that she - we - would have our chain!

So, today, with 36 school days to go, "the chain" makes its annual appearance.

In Julie's honor, I decorated the 2008 version. Instead of the plain links cut and stapled lovingly by Julie's hand - even on those occasions when she was confined to her sick bed - this year's links are imprinted with butterflies, my own personal sign that Julie's spirit is alive and well, inspiring us to "hang in there", to weather our storms, and emerge on the other side...stronger than ever.

A sample link...

The butterfly counts not months,
but in moments and has time enough.


And another...

A Symbol of Love

A butterfly lights beside us like a sunbeam
and for a brief moment, its glory and beauty
belong to our world.

But then it flies again,
And though we wish it could have stayed...
We feel lucky to have seen it.