By Pam Robinson
This past Sunday, long-time Griffin resident Judy (Sharp) Christmas celebrated her retirement after 38 years in the Metropolitan School District of North Posey. Everyone knows, however, the party isn’t really over. The 1967 North Posey graduate punched the time clock for the last time as a full-time custodian at the junior high on Monday, August 13, and on Thursday, August 16, she marched back there as a classroom sub.
Actually, Christmas has taught as a substitute teacher almost as long as she has served as second shift custodian—for the past 12 years of her 15-year custodial career. She has thought nothing of working from dawn to dark, 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., just so she could continue to interact with the kids she loves. Last year alone, she subbed 70 out of 180 school days.
Before she signed on as custodian, Christmas ran a school bus for 23 years—the last three of those years, dishing up food in the cafeteria also. In addition, she opened at T’s Truck Stop before her bus route in the morning; in the evening and on weekends, she drove the bus for team sports’ trips—volleyball, softball and basketball—during this same time period.
She will tell anyone that all her hard work paid off educational expenses at Purdue for her only child Daphne, but one suspects Christmas would have made the same choices had she been childless. When she turned 17, she enrolled in Evansville’s Tri-State Beauty College after completing her senior year of high school in December. From 1979 to 1980, she worked in a Poseyville salon before opening a home salon that she kept open mornings and Saturdays from 1980 to 1999.
Throughout her 44-year marriage to Bill Christmas, she has kept up this pace. She’s obviously joking about her work habits when she briefly describes her situation upon her father’s death.
“I always said that my sisters raised me because I was 3 [years old] when our dad died. Mom was 30, Joy and Jane [twins] were 10 and Lauretta was 13,” Christmas explains. “Mom was single for quite a while, so she had to work to raise us girls. I always said that my sisters raised me, and then my husband took over.”
She joined the Griffin Fire Department in the late 70’s and still serves as the organization’s treasurer. Moreover, she has enjoyed meeting one Saturday a month with the Griffin Town Council since the mid-1980s.
Somehow Christmas makes the time to read. Quilting and sewing small pieces, such as decorative doilies, keep her in touch with her twin sisters, Jane Kendle of Francisco and Joy Straw of Poseyville, for whom Christmas first subbed as a bus driver. She holds in loving memory her late sister Lauretta Sharp, whose husband Wayne taught mathematics at North Posey for over 30 years.
Christmas mentions proudly her husband’s amateur wine-making that has earned him international recognition. She notes his retirement in 2010 as a North Posey night custodian. He still umpires softball and referees volleyball at North Posey. He and Judy look like twins themselves, each one wearing a North Posey Viking t-shirt.
Best of all now for Christmas is a schedule that permits her to get to all North Posey sports, especially the soccer games of her grandson Logan in sixth grade at North. She’ll be there for Logan’s sisters also—Skylar, an eighth grader at the junior high, and Makenna, a first grader at North.
No one should expect even a relaxed conversation with Christmas, for her animated talk focuses on her enthusiasm for all North Posey kids. No wonder Steve Kavanaugh, North Posey Junior High principal, calls her “the grandma of the building.” She may be celebrating retirement, but Christmas certainly doesn’t plan to slow down.
By Pam Robinson
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