Why, it’s the most beautiful 'apple' necklace I’ve ever seen!
I love being a teacher. Well, not every second of every day, but mostly I love being a teacher, especially the week before Christmas break. This week, in any school, is just such a trip. All of a sudden, there is spasmodic giggling and unrest in the classroom, whining in the office, and a general who-gives-a-partridge-in-a-pear-tree attitude toward work of any kind ... and the students are almost as bad.
Don’t bother asking the kids to work this week, because their brains have already left for Aspen, and they have no return tickets till January. So, teachers -- in our never-ending quest to torture children -- hand out assignments like, “Write two paragraphs on what you want for Christmas/Hannukah/Kwanzaa/Whatever, followed by two paragraphs on what you DESERVE for Christmas/Hannukah/Kwanzaa/Whatever.” Or: “Compute the distance from your house to the North Pole – in miles, liters and milligrams.”
(Naturally, there are some teachers who give actual, grade-able assignments and even tests this last week, but they are the brand new, just-out-of-college teachers, with all of their ideas and ideals still intact, and looking so young that the security guards keep asking them for their hall passes.)
I often play holiday music, and sing, and tell stories while I sit at my desk and accept gifts, like the schoolmarm in “A Christmas Story”, and I just want you folks out there to know how thrilled, grateful – and sometimes stunned – teachers are by the wonderful gifts our students bring us. As a mother, I know how hard it is to choose a gift for a teacher, which is precisely why, when they were old enough, I just gave my kids money and told them to do the shopping themselves. This works really well, as long as you firmly stress that it must be NOTHING GROSS. And, of course, you must define NOTHING GROSS very narrowly and very specifically.
A few times, my kids forgot to shop for the teacher, which they rarely realized before January. In these instances, they would simply get the money envelopes they’d received from their grandparents out of the trash, scratch out their names and substitute the teacher’s, and slip their “shopping for the teacher” money in there – well, most of it. Then, when school started back and everyone was depressed – including some of the students – my kids would present that money to their teachers as if they’d planned it all along. (And, I have to say, when it comes to educators, cash is always the right size, color, and style!)
Now, in the spirit of Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, and every other holiday that involves wrapped packages, legends, candles, forestry in the living room, or eating until you hurl, let me share with you a little song I’ve adapted to teacher gift-giving, based on a happy holiday tune – please feel free to sing along:
On the first day of this week, a student gave to me…
A book on how to teach Drama (which – (just hold this note and keep singing) – apparently I’ve done badly for 17 years…);
On the second day of this week, my students gave to me…
Two “I Love My Teacher” apple-shaped mugs (with hard candies in them, which will taste the same when I open them in 2017) and a book on how to teach Drama;
On the third day of this week, my students gave to me…
Three apple-themed fruit baskets (What, no chocolate? They must think I don’t need it.), two “I Love My Teacher” mugs, and a book on how to teach Drama;
On the fourth day of this week, my students gave to me…
Four fancy apple-smelling soaps (which I’ll never open unless my mother-in-law visits.), three fruit baskets, two “I Love My Teacher” mugs, and a book on how to teach Drama;
On the fifth day of this week, my students gave to me…
Fiiiiive bags of candy (mostly gummy worms, cherry goo, and Harry Potter dirt-flavored jelly beans, all of which are revolting.), four fancy-smelling soaps, three fruit baskets, two “I Love My Teacher” mugs, AND A FREAKIN’ BOOK ON HOW TO TEACH DRAMA-A-A-A-A!
Really, I’m just kidding. Teachers truly do appreciate these gifts, and most of all we appreciate the time taken by you wonderful parents, out there shopping among the maddening throngs, to think of us. And I promise that when we are finished grading all these exams, and are lying under our Christmas trees, a bottle of peppermint schnapps in one hand, Retirement Information Booklet in the other, gazing up at all the pretty lights – we’ll be thinking of you, too. Merry … merry … sssnnnzzz.
Vicki Wentz is a local writer, teacher and speaker. Readers may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit her website, www.vickiwentz.com.