Jennifer Michaels recently interviewed her dad, Don, at StoryCorps in Bellefonte, PA
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I love stories. I love StoryCorps. I love NPR.
I had an eight minute drive over to the early morning spin class I wanted to fit in this morning. Tuned into NPR--and lucky me, I got to hear Don Michaels tell his Christmas story to his daughter Jennifer.
Jennifer Michaels recently sat down with her dad, Don, and interviewed him about a rough time he had in the fifth grade.
It made me think back to my fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Rosin. Oh my, how I was afraid of her--all those scary stories I'd heard. I worried all summer about the start of fifth grade with probably the toughest teacher in town. Tiny, white-haired, stern, rarely smiling, with a reputation for being a real taskmaster. Turned out, Mrs. Rosin was probably my best teacher--ever. And that's counting all those years from kindergarten through grad school.
Don Michaels' Christmas Story
Listen to it here.
Don Michaels really didn't like school for a while when he was growing up.
"I had terrible migraine headaches when I was in fifth grade," he explained to his daughter Jennifer recently. "Whether that was because of the pressure, or because of the reputation that the teacher at the time had, and my having gotten reports from my three brothers who had her, I just, I just don't know."
Michaels remembers his teacher, Miss Leister, having very sharp features.
"The most prominent thing was her nose — it was very hawkish," the 72-year-old said. "She didn't smile a great deal. And she was a taskmaster — she expected you to perform."
Miss Leister wasn't very warm, he said.
"But we had a Christmas party — all the classes had Christmas parties — and we all exchanged names for gifts. And the Christmas party started, the gifts were being handed out, names were being called, and one by one all my classmates went up to get their gift. When the gifts were all gone, I had not been called and did not receive a gift, for some reason or other."
The day before Christmas, Miss Leister showed up at Michaels' house, unannounced.
"And she had a small gift that she gave to me," he said. "That gift was a key chain. I kept that for years and years. And as odd as it may seem, my headaches went away about two days after she came."
Michaels' relationship with Miss Leister changed from that day on.
Produced for Morning Edition by Jasmyn Belcher. The senior producer for StoryCorps is Michael Garofalo. Recorded in partnership with WPSU.
An Acronym to Think About
On my 8 minute ride home I got to hear a short snippet about the "Backstory: Naughty & Nice: A History of The Holiday Season" on my local NPR affiliate. Hear the whole story here.
Bottom Line: Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa--for better or for worse--they're just stories. Not exactly what we think they are. As always, there's more to the story.
But, here's the eight-minute historical snippet I picked up: S.P.U.G. The Society for the Prevention of Useless Giving. Read all about them in the New York Times of 1913. Some things never change. Just click here and hit Full View.
Happy Holidays to Everyone - Whatever You're Celebrating - Wishing You All Good Health, Happiness, and the Joy of Simple Pleasures