So, it’s that time of the year again–end of the school year means teacher gifts.
When I taught, it was middle and high school, so I almost never got any gifts. I was actually shocked the first time I got one because I didn’t expect it. Over the years I would get knick-knack or two, a pile of post-its, sometimes the ubiquitous Starbucks card. All of which were sweet and appreciated. I remember being genuinely touched that a student (or more likely his parent) would think of me at the end of the year. Yes, some of them were stinky candles and stuffed animals that I will admit hit the garage sale table later in life, but EVERY ONE OF THEM was appreciated. It warmed my heart–which we all know is a cold unfeeling thing. It made me regret flunking some of them. SOME.
Anyway, I’ve seen a few blog and FB posts about what NOT to get teachers for gifts, and I have to say it bugged me a little. I am bothered that there seems to be this idea of the “wrong gift”
Gift giving, in my book is a selfless thing. I am not giving gifts to Ben’s teachers (and aides, and therapists…) out of OBLIGATION, but because I want to thank them for working so well with my child and helping him grow, not only academically but socially. The boy leaving their charge is NOT the same boy who entered it. Sure he still struggles with transitions, and Goddess only knows when he will EVER go pee-pee in the potty, but he speaks now, and communicates, and TRIES. These 2.5 years of preschool have really worked wonders on him. And those ladies need to know how grateful I am.
So, I dislike it when someone comes along and dictates what I am supposed to give these lovely ladies. Or anyone for that matter. Because this is a gift from me–something I want them to have.
I really dislike this philosophy that seems to be growing that giving something to someone has rules. That it must be from a list, or something that the person dictates that they want. That’s not gift giving–that’s fulfilling a shopping list. Yes, I’m sure Ben’s teachers and aides and therapists would LOVE gift cards or straight up cash. and in the past I have given that. And may give it again this year. But not because it’s what I SHOULD give them. I am also giving them some handmade goods–because that is how I express my gratitude to others, by MAKING them something. Does everyone appreciate it? prolly not–but that’s not my problem. I myself cherish every handmade item ever given to me because it is a gift of time and creativity and (dare I say it) thoughtful prayer.
But this isn’t about handmade vs. cash. This is about gift-giving. As I see it, a gift is something that comes from your heart. Yes, it may be store bought, and yes, it may be something someone has expressed a desire to have. But it is not something to be checked off a list. It is not something to be sneered at because it isn’t as expensive as other things, or as “useful” as some would want it to be. Yes, these things may end up at a garage sale a year later. But when I give something, I relinquish all ownership of it when it is given, and while it may sting that someone sells my hand-knit cap, I know that I gave it with thought and love. I am not responsible for how the other person receives it–only for how I present it. If they wanna regift it, who cares? If they use it to line their birdcages, well, then at least it has garnered some usefulness. And if they wanna barter it for sex, well then, who am I to judge? Are there crappy gifts given? OF COURSE THERE ARE. we’ve all been on the receiving end of a gift that made us cringe. But if you cannot see and appreciate that someone took the time and effort to give you something, then that, in my honest and snarky opinion, is a deficiency on your part, NOT THEIRS.
I cannot dictate gratitude, nor can I control or change others. So all I can go is give something from my heart, with thoughtfulness and love, and hope that it is appreciated.
That said, I plan on giving Ben’s teacher, and aides, and therapists lovely little spa bags with some homemade goodies, and a tearful thank-you card, and perhaps a gift card or two if I can swing the finances.
And? I get lovely thank you cards from them EVERY TIME.
Don’t let others dictate your gift-giving. Otherwise it just isn’t a gift.