Picture it. Third grade in an elementary school in 1995. It's nearing Christmas and the parents of my daughter's third grade class decided to take up a collection for one really good gift from all the children, instead of a lots of little gifts. The parents agree, and a nice little sum of money was accumulated. One of the mothers, who was also a teacher, suggested getting Mrs. Glazer, the teacher, a set of beautiful art books for the classroom. Everyone agreed this would be a perfect gift that would not only benefit our children, but many future students who would be in her class. I wasn't present when the gift was delivered and opened, but I heard about the aftermath for days, weeks and months after in the schoolyard while waiting to pick up my daughter.
It seems the old expression "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth." did not apply here. Nor was the gift graciously received. Rather, the teacher was offended and told the parents, in so many words, that this gift was not for her at all, but for their children. There was nothing personal about it the gift. Naturally, as you would expect, the parents were now also offended as they put thought into the gift and probably had to add to the sum of money collected in order to purchase it.
Fast forward to the end of the school year. June was fast approaching and there was little matter of the end of the year gift for the teacher. Normally I wouldn't be involved in these matters, I would just be contributing whatever amount was agreed on for each parent. However, no one wanted to be responsible for purchasing the year end gift from the class. So they all got the bright idea to ask me to do it. I wasn't involved in the Christmas fiasco so I had no hard feelings one way of the other. And, when they approached me to buy the gift for the teacher and something additional for her aide, I said yes. I wasn't afraid of taking on this project and suffering the consequences.
I decided to keep my daughter home from school for a mother-daughter day. I planned to go to the mall with her to do some shopping, pick out both gifts and allow her to have some input. Afterwards we would go to lunch at a nice restaurant. Off we went to Macy's! My first and only thought is that the teacher wanted something personal and what woman doesn't like jewelry? We went directly to the jewelry counter and looked around. We saw a nice pair of dangling earrings that seemed elegant to me (but what do I know) and my daughter approved. With the few dollars we had left we were able to get another pair of earrings for the aide. Mission accomplished! I asked for gift receipts just in case Mrs. Glazer didn't like the earrings (you never know.)
My daughter and I went to lunch at a restaurant near our house, that I drove past twice a day for three years, taking my younger daughter to her school. Of course we were going there from the mall instead of my house, and having directional dyslexia, I got us lost somehow. So, I simply drove home and started out again and this time we made it to the restaurant and had a nice lunch. (I wonder if my daughter even remembers all this?)
The day of the gifting finally arrives. The gifts were to be presented to the teacher and aide in the classroom during a special viewing for the parents of the Family Tree projects that the children were supposed to be working all year. ( I say supposed to be because some looked like they were prepared the day before.) The albums and pictures were on display and all the children had a little something to say about their families and ancestry. I was standing there with the gift receipts in my bag just waiting for the reaction to the gift. Mrs. Glazer could not be happier with her earrings and came over to thank me. I told her if she would prefer a different style I had the gift receipt, but she refused, saying she loved them. The aide also came over to thank me for her lovely gift. All's well that ends well.
P.S. Valentine's Day is around the corner. If any men are reading this blog just remember to go get your lady jewelry. Forget the roses, they die. Forget the chocolate, that lasts less time than roses. Jewelry lasts forever and I have yet to meet a woman who doesn't like jewelry.