A gift consists not in what is done or given, but in the intention of the giver or doer.
– Lucius Annaeus Seneca
One of the things I unexpectedly missed when I moved from teaching middle school to teaching high school were the little gifts from kids (read parents) around the holidays.
Something about a carefully chosen gift from the families I served meant I was doing okay.
Even when I was teaching older kids, it was special to get a card on the day before break with a few sentences letting me know I was cared for.
One family consistently included a gift card to the Trader Joe’s up the block from SLA. More than once, those cards came in handy when I was out of cash or another student needed some money for a meal after school.
For me, any gift or card from a student or parent was a sign I wasn’t in it alone, that the work I was doing meant a little bit more. It meant, when they sat down to think about who they felt compelled to appreciate, who I was in that student’s life meant enough to be remembered.
When I was in school, I remember creating holiday gifts for my teachers with my mom. One year we bought each of them a coffee mug and made homemade hot chocolate mix. I think there was a tea towel thrown into the mix as well. As I got older, I didn’t see why the gifts were important. They seemed childish or uncool. Still, my mom insisted, and I would hall a shopping bag full of small gifts in to dispense just before break.
When I was a teacher and my mom and sister Rachel prepared gifts for Rachel’s teachers, I could empathize with what it meant to be remembered as someone worth receiving a gift. I got that it wasn’t childish, but part of what we do when we want to say to others that they are worth our gratitude, worth our remembering.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be making some suggestions of possible sources of gifts for the teachers in your life. Some will be products for purchase. Some will be ideas of things to make. All of them will be meant to help remember teachers as worthy of thanks.