Monday, December 2, 2013

The Gifts We Get and Give

The JKs made me a beard in 2012 to go with my outfit.
It's December, which means that it's now okay to start thinking about the winter holidays - specifically Christmas. (Call me Scrooge, but I'm just not a fan of buying presents in August or hearing carols in November.) As part of my Advent / countdown to Christmas preparations, I examine my collection of lists, which would put Santa himself to shame. I keep lists of people I send cards to, people I give gifts to, and those who give me gifts, so that I can write my thank you cards. I have my list of what I've received every Christmas since 1985! As I was looking at the lists of Christmases past, I realized that many, many students give me presents. This surprises me a bit, because I am a specialist teacher, a teacher-librarian, not a classroom teacher. I wouldn't consider the teacher-librarian to be high on the list of consideration for shopping goals. The fact that I am remembered in this manner touches me deeply. I don't teach in a particularly affluent neighbourhood, so I appreciate the financial sacrifice families make as well to give me a little something for the holiday.

This is where it gets awkward. I don't need many of the presents my students give me, but I think it would be presumptuous and rude to tell people not to give me anything. I myself bristle when I see wedding invitations that include a line about "cash only" or a birthday party that requests "no gifts". Gift-giving is up to the individual; it's not a requirement. On the flip side, I don't want parents to "waste" their money purchasing a box of chocolates for me, which I often cannot eat because of my nut allergy.

I'm a parent as well as a teacher, and I give presents to many of the educators and other professionals in my children's school and where I work. What do I tend to give to teachers for Christmas? What would be on my wish list for Christmas? I have two traditional types of gifts I like to give.

Charity Donations

I like using because it lets me browse many different registered Canadian charities and give with the click of a mouse to several organizations at once. I try to select charities related to education and literacy. I can make a single donation and honour an entire group of people. This year, I gave to IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People - the folks connected to the National Reading Campaign) and the Children's Aid Society of Toronto. Last year, I gave to Doctors without Borders, People for Education, and the Canadian UNICEF Committee. Even if it's a small donation, it feels good knowing that my gift can do more than sit on a shelf gathering dust. If the recipient likes it, that's icing on the fruitcake; the organization appreciates the help.

Gift Cards for Class Supplies

Figures vary, but teachers spend a great deal of their own money to supplement their classrooms. One survey suggested the average was $444 annually. This isn't just an American phenomenon, as this recent  CBC story shows. I like getting gift cards for book stores or shops that carry a variety of items, so that teachers can decide to purchase items for their class or for themselves to use in class as needed. This avoids the need to ask teachers what they want or need. I also like getting and giving a Tim Hortons gift card, for that occasional doughnut or hot chocolate. 

My personal wish list that I've given to my husband has some different items written down, but hopefully this short rumination will help make your shopping adventures a bit easier this year.

No comments:

Post a Comment