As children filled the hallways in my school last December, many proudly came carrying various sized gift bags and boxes—several of which were given to me.
This was not a surprise; I’ve been teaching for four years. It did however create an uncomfortable sequence of, “thank you” and, “oh, you shouldn’t have.”
And I meant it.
Please don’t think your gifts go unappreciated. They don’t. I’d simply rather you spend what money you have for gifts on your children.
I know making ends meet each week and month is a struggle for many families, even without the added stress of wanting to provide your child with the coolest gifts this time of year.
The week before Christmas, I often hear students bragging about having peeked at their newest sneakers, phones, and whatever else is trending.
Whether they’re exaggerating or embellishing, the way kids do—or perhaps you’ve promised them those things (with good intentions, I’m sure!)—when they return to school after Christmas, I usually see them in the same shoes and carrying the same phone.
So please, if your child expresses an interest in buying for me, or you assume I’m expecting any sort of material gift, think again.
The greatest gift a teacher could receive is a handwritten note from their students. I’ve had several handed to me this year on non-holiday, spontaneous occasions, which actually makes such treasures even more special.
One girl thanked me for helping her work through her anger.
Another girl said she sees me as a second mom and wants to make me proud.
A boy’s letter proudly stated what positive changes he planned to make. He handed it to me with the most genuine, innocent grin.
The Bath & Body Works sets, chocolates, and coffee mugs are all incredibly generous of you. Please know that.
But when I hear students telling me that they haven’t believed in Santa since they were as young as my daughter—a three-year-old who just talked to Santa via an app last night—because their most wanted gifts never appeared, I’m reminded of the reality that is my economically disadvantaged students and their families.
This holiday season (and always), I wish you warmth, health, and happiness. I hope your child’s Christmas wishes come true. Just please know I expect nothing other than the chance you’re giving me to be an influence in your child’s life. Think of me as the bright star that may adorn your Christmas trees. I’ll always be there to shine on and guide them.
Once my kid, forever my kid.