KATY -- For many children, it's been difficult to express their emotions about the hardships linked to Hurricane Harvey -- and how the storm changed their lives.
That changed when a 7th-grade teacher in Katy ISD asked students to write a parody poem based on the Christmas classic "Twas the Night Before Christmas."
Beck Junior High teacher Gretchen Drake graded the assignments as students read their work aloud to the class. She said some students wrote about cookies, Houston-based rap musicians or the Astros.
But three girls -- Ananya, Melissa and Jessica -- chose to write about what they know.
“Whenever we’re talking to people, we give hints, but we can’t really express it,” said Ananya Bhonsley. “We can’t just dump it all out on them, right? This is like, we actually are expressing all of our feelings. How we actually feel.”
The poem, which the girls titled “A Harvey Christmas” is written from their perspective, one that they haven’t shared openly.
“We use water every day. We didn’t know water could have so much damage on the whole city,” said Ananya.
“Well, so both me and Ananya flooded,” said Jessica. “And Mel did get some damage from the hurricane, so like we have experience.”
“So, we’re still living upstairs. There’s a lot of boxes.,” Ananya explained. “There’s so many things that we took upstairs, it’s hard to get around. We can’t really put up a Christmas tree because it’s probably going to get dirty, dusty and all that.”
When the three 7th graders stood up and began to read their poem, Drake could relate.
“It hit me like a ton of bricks,” the teacher said. “You don’t think about that concrete floor. But everybody pulled up the floor. Everybody pulled up the carpet. Everyone’s been walking on concrete floors for the past three months. The part where they talk about the family living upstairs, that’s how my family and I live right now.”
Ananya and Jessica say they don’t really talk about the their feelings about life after Harvey with their parents.
“I know that they’re dealing with a lot and it’s hard to bring it up,” Ananya said. “Like, I don’t want to give them more work, like, more stress.”
“I know people that would rather be at school, because their house, there’s just people in it all the time,” said Jessica.
The girls added that this Christmas, they’re not wanting or asking for any gifts.
“But my sister, she gave my parents her Christmas list and one of the things was our downstairs," Jessica said.
While the girls used the poem to share their feelings, Drake used the poem to remind her students, things will get better.
“It might come slowly, it might take a while, and we may have to have more patience than we ever thought we could possibly have. But knowing that all those gifts that they talk about in the poem are coming, they are coming. Santa’s coming and one day, this will be something that’s behind us.”
A Harvey Christmas
Twas the night before Christmas, but there was no floor
To display the green tree with decorations galore.
No fireplace to hang the stockings with glee.
No star to place atop the tree.
The family was crammed all upstairs,
Hoping God would answer all their prayers.
The kids in the bedroom, and the parents on the floor,
With memories of water rushing through the back door.
When suddenly there was a loud sound from downstairs,
They thought it was Jose doing his repairs.
But no, no, no this was no ordinary man.
For this was Saint Nick, he had a great plan.
Loaded with wet-vacs, flood insurance, paint and doors,
Handing out carpets, cabinets, trims and baseboards.
They didn’t know it yet, but they were in for a treat.
For when they awake, their hearts will skip a beat.
As Santa crept along the concrete floor,
He quietly installed a fresh white door.
As the reindeer danced on the roof with jingles,
They used their hooves to push in new shingles.
Bright and early on Christmas day,
After Santa had come their way,
The family jumped up and down with joy.
For their new house was better than any new toy.