Lessons from the Elves…

Last weekend, my niece, (the daughter of an SDA graduate!) was in a production of ELF Junior in Toms River, NJ. Abigail is a huge fan of ELF and so we were happy to see Ellie in the production- she did an outstanding job! Of course, after watching the musical, the movie was on a non-stop loop on the TV in my house and has been on frequently all season long.  It makes me laugh, but as with most movies, after a while I tune it out.  

And then, it struck me- some of the most important lessons of Christmas come from holiday classics that we are so used to seeing, we forget the important messages that they impart upon children for generations to come !

So indulge me if you will in some holiday cheer. At just one week before Christmas, let us review some of these classic Christmas messages to truly get into the spirit of the season!

From ELFThe best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear! & There’s room for everyone on the NICE list!

From Home AloneThis is Christmas, the season of perpetual hope!

From How The Grinch Stole Christmas Maybe…Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas is a little bit more.

From The Polar ExpressSeeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can’t see. & There’s no greater gift than friendship.

From Miracle on 34th Street Faith is believing when common sense tells you not to!

From It’s a Wonderful LifeEvery time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings!

From A Christmas Carol God bless us, everyone!

And with these words of wisdom in our hearts and minds, let us enter into those final days before Christmas, looking forward to celebrating with family and friends. Remember always, the true spirit of Christmas lies within your heart.

Deck The (SDA) Halls!

December is upon us at last! For many of us, it is truly the most magical and wonderful time of year and no matter how many late nights of wrapping or afternoons of baking we have, the joy of the holiday season makes every Christmas chore seem merry and fun.  From sun up till  moonrise, all month long, I have no doubt that many of you will be as busy as Santa’s elves- with shopping, wrapping, exchanging, and all that comes with the joy of the season.

At Saint Dominic Academy this December, every so often I need to peek out my office door and make certain our young ladies are not elves themselves!  Fresh from their fall production of The Sound of Music; many of our most talented voices are singing at Tree Lightings, Holiday parties, and of course at our very own Christmas Concert  on December 10th. The Glee Club and Dominoes are busily spreading Christmas cheer, not only within SDA, but within the entire Hudson County community.

Our athletes are involved in a bit of hustle and bustle as well; basketball and indoor track have practices, games and meets that last into the wee hours, when houses are lamplit and there is frost in the air heading home.  Never growing tired, these dedicated young women are committed to their studies as well as their teams and bring pride to SDA, not only in December, but all  year long.

Our Peer Ministers are preparing for our Christmas Liturgy, Dominican Youth in Action is sponsoring a Giving Tree, French, Spanish and Asian Interest clubs are planning Christmas parties for the school, Student Council raised enough funds to buy 15 coats for children, and the Class of 2018 is hard at work on their Christmas play.  And the fun doesn’t end with the students; faculty and staff are making ornaments for their prayer partners and our Alumnae Association is hosting an Alumnae Christmas Party on December 15th.  

With all the merriment in the air, it’s not hard to see why I sometimes wonder if each of our young ladies is not just a bit magical.  And then, I remember…they are!  For the love of God is with them always, and perhaps, during this month, it shines just a tiny bit brighter and gives them the extra sparkle that I see daily!

The Hills Were Alive…AT SDA!

This past weekend, it was my pleasure to welcome parents, donors, alumnae and friends to Saint Dominic Academy’s production of The Sound of Music.  This breathtaking show, which began its journey here at SDA in June of 2017 and has continued until late Saturday evening, was full of talented and heart stopping young men and women. The ladies of Saint Dominic Academy, together with students from Saint Peter’s Prep, Hudson Catholic High School, Eastern Christian Academy and All Saints Catholic Academy as well as faculty members from Saint Dominic Academy worked tirelessly, after school, evenings and weekends, to perfect the performances that were held over the weekend.

I am certain it is a story most of our audience knew very well; a heartbroken father finding new love after the loss of a mother, a young woman searching for her place in life, and a brave family facing the Nazi takeover of Austria in the days preceding World War II. The emotions in this show are as wide ranging as the ages that were seen on the stage, from the tiniest Von Trapp child to the most decorated Nazi Officer. The cast and crew’s dedication to the performance had the power to transport viewers to Austria before it fell to Germany,  to lighten their souls with the songs “your heart wants to sing…” and to celebrate the joy that is family as we moved into December and the Christmas season.

What was interesting for me to share with our young students in the cast, some of whom were not aware, was that the story of the Von Trapp Family was a true one; the story of an empowered woman who embraced the twists and turns of her life, until it took her to where she belonged; as the wife of Captain Von Trapp and stepmother to his seven children and later, two of their own.  

Maria Von Trapp, who worked to keep her family together, both as they left Austria and then again in Switzerland and finally in Stowe, Vermont, may not have always been as cheerful and happy as our own Maria, but she did survive, thrive, and bring her family to success.  She was a leader, in a society that was falling under a dangerous regime. She was a brave and protective mother, putting the safety her stepchildren and children before her own at all times.

In short, she was the very portrait of a Saint Dominic Academy girl; empowered, spiritual, and dedicated to doing the right thing.

It was an honor for all of us at Saint Dominic Academy to tell her story and the story of her family!  My sincere thanks and love to the cast, crew, Director and supporters of The Sound of Music.