The View From A Slightly Twisted Angle

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Christmas Traditions: Gifts From Kids

on December 19, 2012



As the last week of school winds down it finally occurred to me that I had better get the gifts my son intends to give to his teachers this year together so that he can get them to school. I’m a little slow some days.  You’d think after 16 years of buying presents for teachers I’d be more organized. It doesn’t help, perhaps, that my sweetheart of a youngest son isn’t satisfied to just take a gift for his classroom teacher.  He wants one for the teacher he has for science each day. And the music and physical education teachers. The principal.  The secretary.  The nurse. The para who is the crossing guard at the street he crosses every day. The custodian. The librarian. Lots of gifts.  And they need to be equal because he loves them all. His list has gotten longer every year.  I love that about him but it has presented a challenge to me.  Teacher’s gifts have always challenged me.  How many “World’s Best Teacher” ornaments do you suppose a teacher receives each year? A gift card seems rather impersonal to me. I like being thoughtful and original: thinking outside the traditional teacher gift box.  I’ve not been really good at it lately. It makes it harder when you have to think out of the box for 10 teachers who are equally loved. Luckily for me this year he had a very firm idea of what gift he wanted to give.  A few years ago we put together a gift of homemade cookies with a package of coffee or hot chocolate, depending on which the teacher preferred. Yes.  He knew which teachers drank coffee and which ones would like hot chocolate. Oh – and one tea drinker.  (That kind of scared me.) We adorned the packages with a cute simple ornament he helped me make.  Apparently  those gifts were a hit because he was determined that he was going to give the same gift this year.  It doesn’t feel really original to me but if it makes him happy I’m for it.  I have to wonder how many cookies teachers get too. Or candy.  Or other stuff they really don’t need or want. Or do they?

I taught children’s classes and children’s church for many years and have received quite a few gifts from students.  Several of them still have a special place in my house.  I think of the child from who it was received every time I see them.

This little fella sits by our computer:



He originally came with a bag of candy attached to his hand.  I think I finally threw away the candy last year.  You can’t see it in this picture but his antler says “2007”.  I think of the little girl with big brown eyes, now in Junior High, who gave it to me that year.

One of my other animal/candy treasures sits on our phone stand:



He had candy canes attached to him of course.  Those got funky a little sooner than the other wrapped hard candy did. This was given to me the second year the same little girl was in my Wednesday night class.  So thoughtful.  So sweet. (Literally and figuratively.)  Sitting next to my peppermint bear is a candle holder made of cinnamon sticks given to me by a little girl in my 2-3 year old Sunday School class one year.  Her mommy made a whole bunch of them and she told me, “I helped her a lot!”  I’m quite sure she did.

Because I teach classes in a church I, of course, have gotten faith themed gifts.  This little cutie sits on our piano:



I love it.  It was also a gift from a little girl in one of my Wednesday night 1st and 2nd grade girls’ classes.   She was as joyful as the gift she gave me and I think of her every time I look at this little statue.

Sometimes you get things that are festive but useful:



This pot holder has a matching oven mitt.  I decided they were to pretty to actually mess up with use so they hang in my kitchen as decorations.  Every time I unpack them I think of the family of children who gave them to me.  The same family who gave me the snowman cookie jar that sits on my counter all winter long.  Those kids are all in junior high and high school now too but I still have lunch with their mother on occasion so I keep up on what they are doing.  It doesn’t seem possible that those little beaming blond children who excitedly waited for me to open their gift are now teenagers.

Over the years I have gotten my fair share of colored pictures, layer jar cookie and soup mixes, and bags and boxes of candy. All given in love and all much appreciated.  One year a little girl gave me a pack of gum with half the pieces missing.  I still remember that gift because I was so touched by it.  She wanted to give a gift so she used what she had available and gave me something that was hers.  I savored that gum.

I guess the more I think about it,  it doesn’t really matter how original or unique the gifts that  my son gives to his teachers are. What matters is that he is giving them from his heart.  I know that was all that mattered to me.




Today’s Mug Story:

Sticking to my theme today, these guys were given to me by a little girl in my Wednesday night class shortly after I first started teaching it.



She was a beautiful little girl with big brown eyes and long dark hair who had a pretty rough home life.  She was actually in my class for three years:  Kindergarten through second grade.  Around Christmas time the third year she was in my class she came in with her eyes sparkling more than usual and asked me, “Mrs. Paula, you like coffee mugs don’t you?” (She might have picked that up from the fact that I constantly carried one around.)  “Yes I do.” I replied.  She smiled, “That’s great.  I think coffee mugs are cool too.”

The next week she came to class and asked, “Mrs. Paula, what do you think about snowmen?  I think snowmen are really cute.”  I happen to love snowmen so I said to her, “Snowmen are some of my favorite people.”  She smiled again.

Week three as class started she asked, “Mrs. Paula you like bears don’t you?”  She knew I had a teddy bear sitting on my desk in the church office.  She may have also noticed that many of our coloring pages and crafts included teddy bears.  “I love teddy bears.” I told her. “I used to collect them.”  She grinned. “So like a mug with a snowman and a bear on it would be something you really liked, huh?”  Catching on to where she was going I said, “Oh my yes.  I can’t think of anything better.”

The next week she showed up with a gift, wrapped in re-used tissue paper for me.  As she beamed I opened the present and found these mugs in a box, still with their dollar store tags on them.  “Oh I love them!” I told her as I hugged her.  “I knew you would.” She told me. “I did chores for my neighbor lady so I could earn the money for them.  You are my favorite teacher ever!”

I still get tears in my eyes when I think about that night.  That sweet little girl is now in high school and has had a pretty hard life thus far.  Though she no longer attends church she is my friend on Facebook.  She still tells me I was her favorite teacher. Every Christmas I  as I get out her mugs and think about her and her sacrifice of love that year.  Then I send her a message on Facebook to tell her that I love her.


6 responses to “Christmas Traditions: Gifts From Kids

  1. Seriously got tears on the mug story! Ahhh…that is sooo sweet! I love the gum story too! That is something my kids have tried to do before I intervened! Perhaps I should have just let them! Love this post! I always wonder about the teacher gift and always try to get them something special because I really do appreciate them but seeing this makes me understand that it doesn’t really matter what it’s about the person who gave it!

  2. You are clearly loved! What a precious story about one of your former students. Those mugs carry so much meaning and they are not even mine. Still, there is a universal message behind the gift giver and recipient. A beautiful illustration of friendship and grace!

    • wedelmom says:

      Kids have a way of loving their teacher just because they are there a lot. I’ve been honored to be a part of some kids’ lives. Love teaching classes. I miss doing it this year but I know this is only temporary. 😉

      Part of the reason I love my mug collection are the stories behind the mugs.

  3. Janelle says:

    What a beautiful story. Such a heart. I love to look at all our decorations and remember the stories attached to them. Lovely post. Thanks.

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