Tuesday, December 16, 2008

No GReaTer GiFT THaN THe PReSeNT


When I taught Kindergarten at a very Snooty Patooty Upper East Side Private school, the line was often crossed between "Thoughtful Holiday Gift" and "Bribe to Get My Child into a Competitive Ongoing School." The year before I arrived, a sampling of gifts other teachers received included: a trip to Paris on the President of a Major Network's private jet, a pair of two carat diamond earrings, and a fur coat. I would tell you more, but there is that Private Nursery School Teacher Code of Honor, and I might end up in the East River in a pair of cement Keds, after having been forced to eat paste.

The year I started as a teacher, our HoityToity school got a new Headmistress, and one of her first acts of business was to Ban All Christmas Gifts. Except Handmade ones.

That year, many a seasoned veteran was slipped a Tiffany's box, or found an Amex gift card tucked into a child's drawing. But I was The New Kid on The Block, and the parents in my class were also new (Except for the Saudian Arabian Prince who had a sibling in an upper grade), and as a result were very enthusiastic about Getting With The Program.

I received tin after tin of homemade cookies-obviously slaved over by my student with maybe just a little help from the Private Chef, jars of pickled and preserved gourmet fruits and jellies and several fabulous drawings in which the children had portrayed me as 20-25 lbs. thinner than I was in real life. I loved all of these things.

One of my very favorite students (who went on to recently date Paris Hilton, btw) appeared before me at our Christmas Party bearing a present, which obviously did not hold cookies or muffins or some culinary treat containing truffles.

It was a large orb, shining the way only something wrapped in Reynolds Wrap can, about the size of a basketball. I could not wait for the last child to leave and the miniature tables to be wiped down, miniature chairs pushed in, so I could unwrap it.

I peeled away the first layer of tin foil to reveal.....another layer of tin foil.
I peeled away the second layer of tin foil to reveal.....another layer of tin foil.

Aha- I thought- my very clever student has created a "surprise ball" for me; which is a very clever way of concealing a present at the center of a sphere.

And so I spent the next half hour, peeling layer after layer of tin foil away from the core--to finally reveal..........

Nothing.

The tin foil ball WAS the present.

It took me another three quarters of an hour to reassemble the creation, and when the students came back from vacation and asked me if I had enjoyed their pomegranate preserves and white truffle chocolate chip cookies, I said Yes! I had enjoyed them all, while I admired the silver ball on my tree.


The deadline for writing your own post about gifts has been extended through today-please post in the comments section of the post below if you want to play for the trophy.

24 comments:

Debbie said...

Wow. I guess there are some more reasons for me to be happy that I don't live in a big city. A trip to Paris? But I am a little sad for you that the rule was changed right when you got there.

The Kitchen said...

I was a teacher, too - and I once got a Chanel purse stuffed full of Hershey's kisses! I've gotten some great presents (not a trip or a fur coat) and I still have all my ornaments and remember each child fondly (they're all now like 25+) every Christmas.

jenx67 said...

what an exciting, fantastic story. what a glimpse into that world, faraway from OKC. I can't imagine. it never even occured to me that peeps would bribe teachers like that. how awful. i bet you were a fabbo (Le's word) teacher. and, that tin ball - what a hoot.

kwr221 said...

Love the mystery-shrouded references to celebrity notname-dropping. Very clever. I hope you treasured that tin foil ball. Maybe you could drop him a line c/o Miss Hilton and remind him of that joy. ;-) Maybe he could make it up to you.

kwr221 said...

Oh, and about that extended deadline?

I thought of was off the hook since the deadline had passed.

...geez louise.

Jennifer said...

That is quite possibly the sweetest story I've ever read. A foil ball. That is awesome.

Miss Thystle said...

wait just a second. YOU were a kindergarten teacher? That explains the love of xmas sweaters.

sheila said...

I want the name of Paris's BF. I'm horrible at veiled clues! But I think it's sweet that he gave you a ball of foil...

Hi, I'm Amy! said...

I bet you were the best teacher EVER!!!

Spatula said...

A trip to Paris? An Amex gift card? How DREADFUL. Thank God they changed the rule just before you got there :-P

Evil Twin's Wife said...

That is a really sweet story. Paris Hilton walks around with a mattress on her back, so who knows which unlucky young man it might be. At least he was a sweet kid. :-)

zakary said...

"Cement Keds" made me laugh!

Miss Thystle said...

I just noticed in the post below you said "Good morning chickens" which is TOTALLY my trademark and I will require $64,000 for your use of it. Also? I should totally win worst x-mas gift ever, because I both gave and received it. AND becuse once, a long time ago, I won a "whatever" clock and it doesn't tell time at all. Which, on second thought, may be the point. In that case, carry on, my sweet little chickadee.

kip said...

Hint: Lorrie's student is now a professional kiteboarder.

OHN said...

Wow...our kids teachers would love to get a photo of Paris (the city, not the person) not to mention a visit there. Around these here parts, I reckon another apple ornament will make its way into a gift bag. Cause we ALL know that teachers love anything 'appley'.

sheila said...

thanks for the clue, Kip. I'm off to the celebrity blogs in search of the name...

kwr221 said...

Oooh, Kip - Is he Greek?

Chandra said...

What a great story! I'm sure your former student was so proud of him/herself!

This year we are giving my son's First grade teacher a "decorative box" that Cooper decorated himself with crayons and stickers...we filled it full of supplies such as stickers, highlighters, staples, paperclips, post it notes...the kind of stuff most teachers have to supply themselves.

Really, how many tins of cookies, perfume soap and coffee mugs can one teacher collect over say 20 years??

sheila said...

I think it's Stavros, one of those Greek shipping heirs she went out with. Am I right?!!

Bj in Dallas said...

that apple is wearing a sweater...hmmm, probably a Christmas sweater...

I would have given you a large bottle of Tequila,

my worst gift is from Aunt R. Come over and read along my sad journey into self doubt and non caring....

did that work?

Bj in Dallas said...

ps you weren't very snarky with me today...

LuckyMe said...

Thatis hysterical!!

Love the apple, the "snooty patooty", the "cement keds" the miniature table and the miniature chairs, the big build up. I give it 5 out of 5 smiley faces :-) (still trying to help you forget)

blairspage said...

Just stopping by from HI, I'M AMY's site! The WORST present I received was NOTHING one year. And, yes, my family did get me gifts, but the guy I was dating... His parents were divorced and we went to his Mom's house for their Christmas get-together the morning of Christmas. While I'm sitting there just waiting for even a little bag with some lotion to make things a little comfortable I got NOTHING! I was embarrassed, but then I felt bad for feeling that way. I guess I just felt more left out than anything!

Jane! said...

I love the apple sweater. I was hoping that was one of your presents.
Kiki's story of losing two weeks pay for Christmas kinda took the wind out of my 'Suckiest Gift' sails.
I do love your cute story, though. Thanks for the upper. This day I need that.