Every day a lot of us send our kids off for seven hours a day to be cared for and taught by someone other than us. There are many amazing teachers out there and I give them so much credit for being able to wrangle twenty-some students daily and also deal with their parents. Teaching is amazingly hard work. So when holidays come around teachers are some of the people I most enjoy buying gifts for. The key word here is “buying.” Not “Collecting empty cardboard toilet-paper tubes for my kids to fashion into recipe-card holders using discarded gingham fabric and pipe cleaners.”
I know there are teachers out there who probably appreciate handmade gifts. If they are very close to the student than I’m sure these gifts have sentimental meaning and yeah, yeah, it’s the thought that counts and all that, but I would never be so presumptuous to assume my kid’s teacher would want some finger-painted coffee cup or a framed photograph of my kid or some weird macrame plant holder my kid made all by themselves. As much as I love the craft projects my children bring home for me around Christmas and Mother’s Day, it’s because I gave birth to these people and I’m forced to proudly display their soup-can recycled fabric-covered pencil holders. I’m obligated to love these handmade gifts because one day if I’m super nice to my kids they won’t shove me in a nursing home and I won’t start talking to my television when I’m watching reruns of Murder, She Wrote.
Even though you may think the homemade potholder your kid made for their teacher will be treasured and used for years to come, I’m sure a lot of teachers have lots of these sorts of “meaningful” gifts gathering dust in closets from many students throughout the years. And yeah, I know, your kid is a special snowflake and their teacher’s all-time favorite and they have never encountered a child as bright and wonderful as yours, but I find it hard to believe they would rather have a scrapbook paper covered tissue box holder than a gift card.
Parents aren’t obligated to give presents for teachers. The economy is tough and many parents are on strict budgets, including those for holiday gifts. But rather than another handmade tchotke I’m sure a well-composed note from the student thanking the teacher for all they do throughout the year would be even more appreciated if someone can’t afford a gift.
I’m sure a lot of you will say that your kid’s teacher really, really loved that magazine holder made from a cereal box because they sent a thank-you note talking about how amazing it was, but most people send thank-you notes for gifts, even the bad ones. You may say that your kid’s teacher had to love the bookmark your kid made with a picture of a Golden Retriever on it, because your teacher has that breed of dog, and because your kid spent four hours crafting it out of quilting scraps and sequins and bedazzled it to read “I brake for Golden Retrievers!” and it’s the thought that counts. But if you are spending 20 bucks on craft supplies couldn’t you just get a gift card to a major retailer that your kid’s teacher could always use to buy dog food if they wanted to? Why not save the craft spectacular for an envelope to hold the gift card?
You may be known for your amazing macaroni art and you may have shared the skill with your child and they may produce some truly spectacular glitter and pasta picture frames. You may even sell these handmade items at craft shows or online and you may truly be the Martha Stewart of the third grade set. But before you start gluing googly-eyes on pinecones, I urge you to look at your own mantle or the top of your dresser and admire all the crafty presents the people who you gave birth to have given you throughout the years. You probably feel love towards these dust-gatherers. I think it’s a bit unfair to expect an adult who didn’t give birth to the humans who created these masterpieces to feel the same.