Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Kindergarten Lessons- The Gift of Christmas

I've cried a lot since hearing about the shootings, in fact, who hasn't?
My husband, who rarely sheds a tear, cried.
President Obama cried.
I think at some level, our entire country cried.

I'm still in unbelief. 

I taught Kindergarten for many years 
and it is still my favorite age to substitute teach when I am asked.

They are still so innocent-
they are still so little
mostly, still so pure.

And if you have children, 
I know you would agree that we learn so many lessons from our children.

 I wanted to share one lesson I learned from one of my past kindergarten students. 
I shared this story at the Christmas Boutique that Salem Lutheran, in Orange, 
held the Saturday before last.

Leigh Anne, the Women's Director of Salem
was so wonderful!

I hope you enjoy it.
I titled it "The Gift of Christmas".

My favorite grade to teach was Kindergarten.
 I remember this one year, 
I had a student named James.

James stood out to me for a few reasons.
He was smaller than the other students, and he was thin and frail.
His blonde hair was very sparse on his head and he came to school with dark circles 
under his big blue eyes.

Many times when I would be reading a story, 
the students would be intensely listening to me 
and James would be totally sprawled across the floor.
he had actually fallen asleep!

Well, I later found out why James always came to school tired and disheveled. 
His mother had left him and his baby sister to be raised by their father alone.  
I can only imagine James’ father getting him to school, 
going to work and taking care of the household, 
which is why I think a lot of James’ needs were just barely met.

Well, the months went by and Christmas vacation was almost here, 
so we had a little party the last day before the students had their 
Christmas Vacation.
I always gave my students a coloring book or notebook,
 with pencils or crayons. 
I made sure to wrap the presents w/paper and ribbon 
because I knew that for many of my students, 
this would one of only a few presents they would receive for Christmas.

I usually didn’t open the gifts I received from the students while they were there 
because I would never want anyone to feel bad about not giving me a gift, 
but one of my Mentors, that taught there for many years, 
said she opened the gifts, 
mostly because the students liked watching her open the presents, 
so I thought I would try this out this year.

One by one, I’d pick up a present, 
most of them wrapped with paper and lots of pretty bright ribbon, 
and one by one, 
the gift giver would come to the front of the room 
to stand next to me as I opened each present.

After unwrapping the gift and showing it to the students, 
they would clap and giggle, 
then wait for the next present and giver.

I was finally getting to the end of the presents and the last one I noticed was a 
small gold box.

It was somewhat beaten up, looked like it had been run over, 
and there wasn’t any wrapping around it or any ribbon. 

I picked it up and held it up to the class and said, 
"Now, I wonder who is giving me this beautiful box?” 

I looked around at the little curious faces as they all sat on the rug in front of me, 
and slowly, 
my eye caught movement in the back.

I saw a blonde head slowly rising above the others, 
and James stood up, 
with his little head bowed down 
as he slowly stepped over the children sitting on the rug, 
to the front of the room where I waited for him.

He stood next to me as I held the little gold box and I looked at his big blue eyes.
I said,
 “I wonder what is inside of this little box?”
As I opened it, I could feel all the children on the rug lean forward in anticipation,
as if to be able to peek inside if they did this.
They waited patiently.

Inside the small gold box was a very small, white button.
I took the little treasure out of the box to show the students and held it up 
so everyone could see.

They all began clapping excitedly 
and as they did this, 
I noticed that James was slowly picking up his lowered head. 
I exclaimed, 
“James, this is the most beautiful button I have ever received!!!”. 
(it was the only button I have ever received) 

He blushed, and as I bent over to give this little boy a hug of gratitude, 
I could feel his small bony body, 
in dire need of a hug.

He said that he found it on the floor in his mother’s closet 
and it was from one of her “pretty tops” 
that she took when she left.

He said he saved that button but he wanted to give it to me. 

It took everything I had to not just start bawling like a little baby!!

I didn’t really know what to say, other than 
“thank you so much, it means so much to me”.

His eyes were lit up with joy.

I learned a big lesson that day.
It is, really, the thought that counts.

It's not the size or the cost that is important when receiving a gift.
It is what it represents-
love for you.

Don't get consumed by gifts and presents this Christmas-
seek HIS presence
you will receive the greatest gift-

He is and was the true reason for this HOLYday.

May your day be merry and bright-


  1. OK, this is the second time this morning that I have been brought to tears!

    This is a beautiful story, Janet. So very touching, and so meaningful. And yes, the greatest gift of all came to a lowly manger many years ago. It was the Gift that keeps giving...over and over again.

    The best thing we can give to HIM is our heart.


    1. Yes, Sharon!
      That's all He really wants, right?
      Love you friend-and your friendship has been a true gift to me!


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