That green(ish) time of the year

December 15,2009
Professor Mom
Aliki McElreath( )

Aliki is a writer and college English teacher. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, two children (ages seven and ten), a dog, a cat, a rabbit, and too many fish.

The one major pitfall with waiting to do all your holiday shopping the week before Christmas, I thought to myself as I wandered around an evil super mega store yesterday, is that spending lots of money over a short period of time makes you feel, in Junie B. Jones' words, kind of greenish and sickish. It can also make you realize just how much you've changed over the years, morphing slowly into someone who has a hard time spending money--a fact I'm sure my dad would be proud of, given the way I used to be in my teenage/college years. Feeling a little greenish and sickish somewhere along the way when I'm knee deep in all the shopping frenzy is something that happens to me every year, and yet every year I wait until the week before Christmas to shop, shop, shop (note: if you spend long enough walking around a certain evil super mega store you will feel slightly manic by the time you reach checkout). Yesterday I took care of all the teachers' gifts for both kids, an important task I always put off every year--not because I don't like or want to buy the teachers gifts, but because I always find myself paralyzed with trying to figure who gets a gift and who doesn't, and who gets a card, and who doesn't. This year, with T. in kindergarten, the list grew a little to include her speech therapist, and the kind lady at the front desk who is always smiling and cheerful no matter how much she has to juggle. But what about the art studio teacher? The music teacher? The PE coach who T. loves? And L.'s school is smaller, and more teachers work with and know him. Is it enough to send along one large box of cookies and hit several resource room teachers at once, or should you thank each one individually with a small gift? Last year we bought miniature live balsam trees (thank you, Trader Joe's) for the main teachers, and all of them told us how much they appreciated those gifts. This year I found some distinctive and funky inexpensive cloth reusable shopping bags (ranging from $1-$5) and placed the gifts inside the bags--scented antibacterial hand gels, candles, and for each main teacher a delicious (and inexpensive) cinnamon bun mix I found at a gourmet foods store. For the ladies at the front desks at both schools, we're sending along boxes of some of the Christmas cookies T. and I made this past weekend, along with some packets of hot cocoa. Last year I wrote out all the cards; this year T. hand wrote her teachers' cards out, something she couldn't do last year. And she put together the gift bags wonderfully, even if she left a small bag of Lindt chocolates on the floor and the dog almost got it all. In the end, I think, whether you're giving a card or a small gift, or some home-baked cookies, we all know it really is the thought that counts the most--and sometimes that's the hardest part to hold onto this time of the year. What gifts did you settle on this year for the teachers in your lives?