Grade Expectations: I Just Got Shamed For Being Stingy With My School Holiday Gifts

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holiday gift givingGrade Expectations is a weekly look at education from a parent’s perspective. We’ll talk special needs, gifted & talented, and everything in between. 

Yesterday, I walked into my daughter’s after-school care with holiday treats in hand. I was delivering cookies for teachers, assistants, and administrative staff, as well as books for my little girl to give her teachers. It’s always a good feeling, giving out cookies and presents. My holiday spirit was suddenly ruined though when I got some serious snark from a couple of employees who obviously felt that I wasn’t doing enough for the entire staff. Now, I don’t know if I’m angry, defensive, guilty, or an odd combination of all three.

I like to think that I’m a generous person around the holidays. As we’ve discussed, I really enjoy giving out presents. Another thing that might have been mentioned, I tend to start preparing for the holidays early. That’s right, I have all my shopping and even a little Christmas wrapping done. So this past weekend, my sisters-in-law and I got together for our annual baking day. We made over a dozen different types of cookies, at least 50 of each type. That’s right, more 600 cookies in a single day. Then we all package up tins of various cookies for teachers, music instructors, co-workers, and neighbors.

Our thinking behind making our treats so early is two-fold. First, the holidays are hectic. Finding an entire weekend day to dedicate to baking is not easy. This year, it worked out to be earlier in the month. More than that, it’s kind of nice to get this type of baking done before all of the big holiday get togethers. By the last week of December, everyone is getting pretty worn out on holiday sweets. Right now, they’re still super excited about homemade peanut brittle and toffee.

Last year was the first time that I had to decide just how many of my daughter’s teachers, assistants and other school employees that I was going to get a gift for. I wasn’t quite sure where to draw the line. This year, I felt like I was pretty comprehensive. I included classroom teachers, assistants, and administrators for both her school and her after-school care. It ended up being 8 individuals in all that got containers of homemade cookies. Then, I let my daughter pick out a book to give to each teacher’s collection for their classroom.

I was feeling really good about covering my bases. Then, I hopped out of the car at our after-school care balancing four cookie tins, numerous cards and a couple of wrapped books. As I was walking into the school, one of the janitors and a woman who works in the lunch room were leaving. One of the women looked at me and joked, “Treats for us? You shouldn’t have!” The other followed up, “Oh, but that’s right. You didn’t.”

I had no idea how to respond. I must have looked like an idiot, standing there shocked and still balancing my cookies. They kept walking away from the building, and I stumbled into the door suddenly wary of any other school employee who might feel left out.

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