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Saturday, July 23, 2005

Are all presents incorrect?

Friday afternoon saw me struggling home from school loaded down by the many presents I had been given from the children in my class. And I'm not even the teacher, I'm the teacher's assistant!

There were two pot plants, a bottle of wine, a useful hook for hanging keys on, assorted bathtime treats and many boxes of chocolates. The teacher had brought in a crate for her gifts, which included some imaginative items among the more obvious chocolates and flowers - a table cloth, a book, a magazine, a pedicure kit, designer perfume.

This scene is repeated at Christmas and Easter and I feel quite uneasy about it. Isn't this all so wasteful, in many ways. I wonder if the donors could not have given their money to a charity, instead of spending it on us. A lot of the items will probably find their way into the charity shop or jumble sale anyway, and there is an environmental cost involved in their manufacture and ultimate disposal. I also question the sentiments behind all this giving. Whilst undoubtedly many of the donors are giving to express their genuine wish to thank the teacher, I think some are giving because they think everyone else is and they do not want to seem mean or ungenerous; so some parents will be spending money they don't really have.

I remember when I was a child, at the end of term my parents would give the teacher a bottle of my dad's homemade wine, or a jar of jam my mum had made. One year the wine exploded -saving the recipient from any risk involved in drinking it.

I would be happier if the child and/or parent came to me and said thank you, if that is what they mean. Some children do do this and it is really so touching when they tell you they have enjoyed their time at school.

On a similar theme, at Christmas I only send out cards to people I can't actually wish a happy Christmas to, face to face. Even though I say I'd rather not receive a card on environmental gounds, I still receive loads. Its as if people can't allow you to go cardless, presentless, etc, for fear you'll feel unloved!


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