Sometimes, kind words can make the best gift

December 20, 2012|Lisa Prejean

Students surprised me this week with a card that they had personalized.

I want to share what they did because families might want to try something similar at holiday gatherings.

The students' card was hand-delivered at a particularly stressful time when I was trying to help with a Christmastime activity between two classes.

Not that this time of year is stressful for teachers ... the students are just a little wired.

The card lifted my spirits because the students had taken time to write a few sentences to me in their own words.

One student said he views me as a "second mother."

Another thanked me for my patience.

A third said she loves "our talks."

A senior said he would miss me next year.

Others related that they feel prepared for college.

Of all the presents they could have given me, this was definitely the best.

As a teacher, I have received countless candles, chocolates and lotions over the years.

I'm thankful for each gift and giver, but the gifts that mean the most only cost the giver time — not money.

I've read my students' words at least five times, and I'll probably read them again — multiple times.

The card brought back memories of a family holiday gathering from a few years ago. We wrote each family member's name on an index card and had everyone draw a card as they arrived. Each person was instructed to write something he or she appreciated about the person.

After the meal, we shared the sentiments one at a time over coffee and dessert. As soft Christmas music played in the background, each member of the family was affirmed for some character or personality trait. It was a time of closeness and ranks as the favorite Christmas memory of my adult life.

I tried something similar with my homeroom class this year, and it was also a hit. The students had decided that they would draw names and bring "Secret Santa" gifts to the class party.

I told them we would open gifts one at a time so everyone would see what was being opened. Each student also had to say what he or she appreciates about the person receiving the gift.

At first, the students joked around a little, but then they took this task seriously. The comments they made were thought-provoking.

They talked about how certain classmates made them smile, how others have a positive attitude, how some are athletic, and others are musical.

As the students were recognized, it was obvious that each one had a role to fill in the class and that they are appreciated.

That kind of support should be nurtured, whether the setting is work, school or home.

All of us need to feel that we contribute to a group in some way.

This Christmas, let's reach out to our family and friends and let them know that they matter by sharing the words that they long to hear.

Spreading holiday cheer can be the best gift of all.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send email to

The Herald-Mail Articles