There seems to be a sense of joy in the air.
That’s what I came to realize while driving my kids to school earlier this week.
Even among all the craziness of COVID and the changing of our world, there just seems to be something about the month of May that sparks joy.
Okay, truth be told, that’s not an intended home purging/organization pun a la Marie Kondo, Netflix home organizer and author. It’s just a true feeling which seems to sneak up on me each and every year.
Funny, given the past 14 months I honestly wouldn’t have fathomed that I would be excited for my kids to be off for summer break - but I am. So much to look forward to in summer by way of fun times and family memories. While spring and fall are historically my favorite seasons, this year I’m just really excited about summer.
Before we get to that though it’s fun to think about why May, what is it that brings this joy?
First there is the obvious, end of the school year and the promise of summer as mentioned earlier in the piece. Then there’s all the buzz of graduations. Graduations are fun and I’m simply thrilled that the Class of 2021 gets to sit in the white chairs and be celebrated by those who love them.
Whether that be the excitement of pre-school or college, it’s just plain exciting. The promise of what’s to come, the celebration of one’s accomplishments, it’s just pure joy.
This Friday I will find myself down on the field trying to “blend” during graduation as I have over a dozen times. Covering gradation, while it can be overwhelming and a bit exhausting, it’s also a lot of fun. Looking up at the families trying to grab the attention of their graduate, seeing the smiles of the student as they exude pride. The smiles that simply say, “I did it.” It’s a lot of magic all in one place.
Many of these students I photographed as kindergartners. I’ve watched most of them grow, even if be it from a distance.
Case in point, this week we profile the Val/Sal for the Class of 2021. James Homer (aka to me as “Jimmy”) was one such student who I remember quite well from his younger days. I’ll spare the stories and not risk embarrassing the graduate, but it was indeed fun to be able to share the memories with him as we spoke for his interview.
That’s the fun of small town living. When you move on from Oakdale you don’t leave a family, you truly leave a community. So many have watched these students blossom from young, impressionable, chubby-cheeked youth; to strong, wise and humble young adults. Our kids aren’t perfect, but they are good and it is my experience that more of them than not represent this community well.
So Friday we will send off the COVID Class of 2021. As we do, we will hope for big things for each of them and that we never see a year like the one that’s passed again. Say what you will and sugar coat it as you may, but our kids (and adults) deserve for that chapter to simply sit in the history books as we move forward in search of regained normalcy.
Now as we look to the future again I see the word joy: Joy for where we are at; joy for what’s to come; and joy for the simple opportunity to live our lives fully.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at email@example.com or by calling 209-847-3021.