When I arrive home from school the last day in June, my husband and daughter and dog always come running to greet me. This is not because they love me. This is not because they want to help me haul in the boxes of stuff without which I cannot survive until September. No. They only want to see what loot my students have given me.
In the past few years I have not received many gifts. I am not sure whether this is because I don’t have a home room, or because the students have nicknamed me Conan the Librarian. In any case, my family appreciates the gifts I get. Of course they appreciate them more if they’re chocolate.
My husband has reservations, however. He has this idea that if you go to a potluck dinner, certain guidelines must be followed. Never eat purple food. Never eat anything that moves. To be completely safe, eat only what you brought. Needless to say, he is equally cautious about the food students give me, although I have assured him that there is no need to worry.
Our dog has no such reservations. He once polished off a dozen frozen cinnamon buns (a farewell gift from a grade eight boy — he said he hadn’t had time to bake me cookies). The dog devoured this delight, wax paper and all, in the time it took me to make the trip from house to car and back.
My daughter is more discriminating. She is interested in the non-food gifts I receive, mainly because they might be items she can use. She also appreciates the uniqueness of some gifts: the dummy grenade with a face painted on it, for example. She is patient when I share stories with her about the gifts I truly treasure, like the student-made Christmas ornaments, or the crystal rose bowl one student gave me the year I got married.
From my point of view, any gift is wonderful because it means that a student is telling me that my efforts are appreciated. From my family’s point of view, Cadbury is fine, but Purdy’s is even better.