For many students (and teachers), this is a wonderful time of year. Families are together, presents are given, food is eaten, and generally, joy abounds. But for our most fragile students, this time of year can be a painful and powerful reminder of everything their lives are not. This is the time of year when lost parents are often most missed, when family pain is accentuated, when pain is at its most acute.

It’s important this time of year to understand that there are students who are quicker to anger, quicker to sadness, quicker to withdrawal right now. We need to be doubly mindful about asking “What do you need?” right now. We need to help our students to develop the resiliency to make it through this season while also acknowledging the pain they are working through. And we need to make sure that our communities — the adults and the kids — have enough empathy to be mindful that not everyone finds the holiday season to be, to quote the song, the most wonderful time of the year.

None of this is to say that schools should not be festive places this time of year — they should. The Santa hats are already popping up at SLA, and I’m having to ration my calories closely, given all the baking that seems to be making its way into the school, but we need to remember that we have an obligation to remember our ethic of care this time of year and make sure that we are taking care of all of the kids so that we can all celebrate together.