Last night in Denton, there was the annual tree lighting. I took my children and it was incredibly well attended. Students, faculty, and those from town were everywhere. It was a gorgeous night with music on every corner of the town square and the historic courthouse covered in lights and wreathes. It was celebratory, possibly because of the end of the semester, or because of the general sense of season with fall ending and winter about to begin.
This was a larger community than the department or the college of which I am a part. I met students there and spent time with them. We know each other and our kids play together. We are willing to support and DO for one another. We learn and teach one another about the local and larger communities of which we are a part. I met new people and, despite the craziness of trying to keep up with a three and six year old in a crowd that large, was happy and contented. It was where I wanted to be. This morning, I see people I know looking a bit rough and telling me that they are “recovering” from some excessive celebrations last night. There are stories and musicians excited at their success last night who are wandering into the coffee shop this morning while I grade papers or sit and stare off into the tired Saturday morning space. It is for these moments that I work, because it cannot be all about the work and the work only.
We also have to live and live with our students as part of a community that grows and prospers because of the attention we pay to it. The contributions we make to it build towards something more than it was.