Good morning, it's Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, the day of the week I pass along quotations intended to be inspirational or thought-provoking. Today's comes from a West Virginia educator named Bondy Shay Gibson in the form of a letter she wrote to the parents of her school district.
Her poignant missive has received national attention in a pandemic-plagued country starved for positive human interest stories. And Dr. Gibson gave us one.
Bondy Shay Gibson is the school superintendent in Jefferson County, located in the West Virginia panhandle in the easternmost part of the state. It's a county I've visited many times, usually to attend the racetrack in Charles Town, sometimes to visit Harpers Ferry, and as a younger man to fish for smallmouth bass in the Shenandoah River. It turns out the county has another asset, namely, an insightful and empathetic school superintendent.
The coronavirus pandemic that hit these shores in the early part of the year has now taken 311,000 lives in the United States alone (and 1.7 million worldwide) while causing an alarming array of associated hardships: shuttered businesses, lost jobs, missed connections, and a lack of human contact that includes everything from worship services to cancer screenings. Mental health experts fear spikes in drug abuse and depression. So far, we can only guess at the toll in domestic violence and other social pathologies. We know our children are suffering from isolation.
In this environment, some have sought to exacerbate our differences, or use the crisis to advance narrow political agendas. I like to think that most Americans, however, are doing their best to meet the moment. Bondy Gibson is one of them. As this week's nor'easter barreled toward her home, she made a decision from the heart.
"For generations, families have greeted the first snow day of the year with joy," she wrote in a letter to her school district's parents. "It is a time of renewed wonder at all the beautiful things that each season holds, a reminder of how fleeting a childhood can be, an opportunity to make some memories with your family that you hold on to for life."
The letter, posted online, continued: "For all of these reasons and many more, Jefferson County Schools will be completely closed for the first snow day of the year. Closed for students, closed for virtual, closed for staff. It has been a year of seemingly endless loss and the stress of trying to make up for that loss. For just a moment, we can all let go of the worry of making up for the many things we missed by making sure this is one thing our kids won't lose this year.
"So please, enjoy a day of sledding and hot chocolate and cozy fires. Take pictures of your kids in snow hats they will outgrow by next year and read books that you have wanted to lose yourself in, but haven't had the time. We will return to the serious and urgent business of growing up on Thursday, but for tomorrow go build a snowman."
And that's our quote of the week.
Carl M. Cannon is the Washington bureau chief for RealClearPolitics. Reach him on Twitter @CarlCannon.