Christmas is a time for giving… and for receiving…
I must admit, when I was a young teacher I looked forward to the (usually remote) chance of a child or parent bringing me the odd Christmas present.
Over the years I was a teacher that never amounted to much. I worked in a relatively poor inner-city borough in east London – but sometimes a pack of Quality Street or a cheap bottle of after-shave would be the concrete evidence of a genuinely touching appreciation.
Some of my friends worked in leafy affluent suburbs. They would come home on the last day of term with their hands full of expensive gifts – cashmere scarves, silk ties, high value book tokens and bottles of Chablis.
I have to say… I really envied them.
When I was out of school teaching and working at the Department for Education and the General Teaching Council, I was reminded by my employers regularly that all gifts from any source must be politely but firmly declined. Even being sent a pocket diary by a firm of printers had to be recorded in a pecuniary register. We didn’t even get a Christmas drink from the bosses.
However, one year in school was a notable exception. I was teaching Year 6 at the time and a parent sent in a very desirable Christmas present. It was a pair of expensive tickets for excellent seats at a sell-out West End musical, enclosed in a very nice card saying: “Thanks for all you have done to get Sarah in to the best school in the borough”.
Actually I hadn’t done any more to get Sarah in to “the best school in the borough” than I had for the 29 other children in the class. So without the slightest hesitation I accepted the gift with delighted alacrity.
It was only reading the card again at home that I reflected I was rather glad the parents of the 29 other children hadn’t seen the words written on the card.
What do you think they might have thought?
Should I have even been bothered what they thought?