For a minute, I felt really guilty. They were right. I hadn’t brought in cookies for the janitors or cafeteria workers. These often thankless jobs deserved some holiday spirit as well. Sure, I donate money to the PTA to provide a holiday breakfast for all the school’s workers, but I didn’t do anything personally. And they interact with my daughter on a daily basis as well, just like assistants and vice principals. Maybe I was a little short-sighted in my holiday gift-giving.
After I helped my daughter deliver her goodies and head home though, I started to get a little more defensive. This little jab might have been the first time these ladies ever spoke to me. Yes, I’ve seen them around the school. Yes, I’ve smiled and waved in greeting. And we’ve never talked. I don’t know their names. My daughter has never talked to me about them. It seems a tad presumptuous to get crappy with someone that you don’t know for not bringing you a gift for the holidays.
At that point, my frustration and doubt really boiled over into anger. I do a lot for my daughter’s school and daycare. I volunteer my time. I donate whatever I can to help. I put a lot of effort into being an involved and thoughtful member of the school’s community. How dare they make me feel guilty because I didn’t make enough flippin’ holiday tins for every member of the school. At that point, I wouldn’t been baking a whole additional day for every person we come into contact with in that school. I cannot be expected to have holiday gifts for every member of a 30-person staff.
Now, I’m just not sure what to feel. I really do want to be kind and thoughtful during the holidays. I give out a lot of gifts to extra-curricular instructors, babysitters, etc. I plan on helping the parent-organized “Thank you” efforts for the entire school. And I really do understand that it must be frustrating to watch every other co-worker get remembered by the students and their families during the holidays.
At the same time, throwing snark at me wasn’t the right way to earn my gratitude. If either of these ladies had taken the time to introduce themselves in the past couple months, I might have added them to my holiday gift list. I’m in my daughter’s schools on a really frequent basis.
After yesterday’s episode, I feel even more confused than before on the appropriate level of school gift-giving. It’s making me wish I lived in a state like Alabama, where teachers aren’t allowed to accept any gifts from students. Then, I just wouldn’t have to worry about it at all. But I might miss the baking.