From The Ridge - The McCallie Blog

My Christmas Story

Posted by Kenny Sholl on December 20, 2010

Men of McCallie,

Well we made it through the craziest exam week on record and WE STAYED THE COURSE. I am really proud of you for hanging in there with such a positive attitude and for understanding that going through the week of exams is beneficial to you in many ways.

  • It is difficult and builds mental toughness.
  • It helps you develop resilience.
  • It allows you to galvanize the material you have learned throughout the semester.
  • It gives you something to be proud of and provides you with “war” stories for the future…….You know how much guys need such stories to tell!

Mrs. Snodgrass, Dr. Walker, and I met with the Department Heads this week to discuss how much of an impact the schedule changes might have had on your grades. While I am confident that you men can overcome most challenges, we were concerned about losing the review day and the lack of continuity throughout the week. As a result, we have decided that the exams you took this week will only count if they help your final semester grade. Of course this doesn’t apply to projects and papers that were assigned prior to the exam week. Gentlemen, this is not a gift. It is in recognition of your approach to a challenging week.

I am sure that most of you have seen the movie A Christmas Story. It is the one that is on TV for 24 straight hours during Christmas Day and is about Ralph’s quest to get a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. Below is my version of a similar story which occurred when I as 9 years old. It is a fond memory of mine, and I hope you enjoy it.

Men, one thing I have learned over the years is that the anticipation and memories of the Season are much more precious than the material gifts we receive.


When I was a young boy, still somewhat unaware of time, I knew that Christmas, glorious Christmas, was near as we began to sing Christmas carols in church and when my Granny Grunt and Pap pulled up in their archaic Plymouth coupe. Of course they had their dog, Buttons, and mynah bird, Pete, with them as well. As I threw open the door of that ancient car, the musty smell of old upholstery was fanned by the tornadic action of the dog and the wings-a-flapping bird. Even my Pap’s profane attempts to calm the pets couldn’t dampen my excitement. I knew that the Christmas tree, once-a-year treats, and presents were soon to come.


Our house is crowded, we are out of school, and the presents are under the tree. It can’t be long now. I have shaken, weighed, and stared at my packages trying to crack the code to see what I am getting for Christmas. One package, shaped like a perfect cube, has caught my attention. Could this box hold the official leather NBA basketball that I asked for?

One evening with everyone at the other end of the house, I manage to un-wrap the gift without tearing the paper or compromising the scotch tape. It is the basketball!! Obviously, I can’t dribble it in the house. So I begin to do my famous ball know the spinning ball on the index finger move. Unfortunately, I arouse Old Pete, the mynah bird, who is obviously unimpressed with my ball skills and begins to cackle in a sarcastic manner that sounds a bit like laughter. In fact, this bird had developed quite a vocabulary of four letter words that he learned from my grandfather. Words for which I would not learn the meaning for several years to come. I quickly re-wrap the package and attempt to quiet Old Pete. Fortunately and quite amazingly, I pull off this preview of things to come without getting caught.

I awake with a start. It is Christmas morning! ....My dilemma....It’s only 3:00 am....WAY too early to begin the day. I try to go back to sleep, but it’s hopeless. I decide to wake up my younger brother who is always ready for the next adventure. We make our way downstairs. Of course, I remind my brother not to rouse that irascible bird. We turn on a small lamp to witness the magic of Christmas morning....Santa had come.

We play with our stuff for a while until the need for sleep overcomes our excitement. I crawl back into my cozy bed thinking of jump shots, my mom’s Red Velvet Cake, and a miraculous Night many years ago.

Men, one thing I have learned over the years is that the anticipation and memories of the Season are much more precious than the material gifts we receive.

My thanks go out to all of you for the difference you have made in the lives of others this season. When we delivered the gifts to Westside School the other day, it literally brought tears to my eyes when I thought of all of those kids waking up to witness the wonder of Christmas morning. Good stuff! Enjoy your time away from school.


Topics: christmas, exams, A Word to the Wise, First Person, memories, parents, Upper School Life

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