By Jennifer Eisenbart

Staff Writer

To truly experience the holidays, watch through the eyes of a child.

As an adult, it can be far too easy to get caught up in the craziness that is the holiday season – whether it be Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanza, you can get lost in religious obligations, or gift buying, or one of a thousand other little (or not so little) obligations.

I’ve always loved the Christmas season – the carols, the friendship, the renewing of faith not just in God, but in fellow mankind. But until Thursday morning, I have to admit I felt a little like Scrooge. It has been a hard year here, not just for me personally, but for others around me.

So when a coworker casually mentioned Wednesday that her son’s second-grade class at Cooper Elementary School would be watching “The Polar Express” Thursday morning, I got a big goofy grin on my face – and thought maybe it would be a good picture opportunity.

Twenty-four hours later, I was seated on the floor of Nancy Shepard’s second-grade classroom at Cooper, watching children eat candy canes and other sweet snacks while – almost in unison and to a child – reacting to the film.

If you’ve never seen “The Polar Express,” suffice it to say that the film offers you a chance to believe not just in Christmas, but in adult ways as well. In watching 20-some children going “oooo!” and “ahhh!” as the train swept off the track and onto a frozen lake, a wide smile crossed my face.

Truly, children see so much in the holidays that we do not. Not everyone is wrapped up in their problems and their obligations, but how many of us really stop and feel – deep in our hearts – the magic of the season? In watching these little boys and girls, I remembered my joy as a child, climbing into bed on Christmas Eve and waiting to hear the first sounds of Santa downstairs.

And in listening to the pure joy of 20-some children simply experiencing a story, I knew that I would remember this Thursday morning as something special myself. After 15 minutes of snapping photos, I wished the teacher a “Merry Christmas,” slipped out the door – and headed to the library to find a copy of the film.

There, the second part of my own little holiday story played itself out. The film wasn’t there, so I checked with the children’s librarian, Joy Schnupp, to make sure I was looking in the right place. I was, but then she decided to look in the system and see if it was available at any other local library.

When she did that, she discovered it was still in the library. Somehow, in the hustle and the bustle of the season, the film just wasn’t in the right place. Thanks to a little digging by a dedicated employee, I will have a chance to sit down and watch the film in full this weekend.

Holiday joy came my way this week courtesy of a classroom of children and one special employee at a local library. I certainly hope you find yours along the way, and that your holidays are blessed.

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