The holiday season is upon us, and for many of us Moms, it includes the wonderful opportunity to purchase a gift for our children’s teachers.
Every year, I’m amazed how paralyzed I become by what appears to be a simple task. 
When the kids are little, there is definitely a status to gift giving.  For some, it is an outright competition to see who can give the teacher the best gift.  My young children always had fabulous plans.  Plans I usually had to reign in–and not just due to budget considerations.
My parents were teachers.  I know there is a limit to the number of ornaments, perfume, and inspirational magnets one can keep track of.
Being fair-minded, and having four children, I knew I couldn’t afford the all-expenses paid experience my kids’ teachers truly deserved, so I focused on consumable, hand-made items:  wreaths, chocolate sauce, gift cards.  
And I’ll admit, I have always been grateful for the overachieving home-room mother willing to collect donations and shop for a group gift.  
As my children grew older, they were less enthusiastic about presenting teachers with gifts.  In fact, it was I who insisted we provide a gesture of gratitude for their teachers’ hard work.
I was naïve enough to think my kids agreed with my sentiments and would continue to proudly deliver the goods.
Until the year I made homemade brownie mix in mason jars.  
We measured and layered the ingredients, and hand-made tags with instructions for the simple mix-and-pour recipe for sheer deliciousness.  
I thought they were the perfect gift, and couldn’t wait to hear how the presentations went.
“How did your teachers like their gifts?” I asked my daughter as soon as she arrived home from school for Christmas break.
“I didn’t have time to deliver them,” she said.
I paused just slightly, and then drove straight to the school to distribute the goods.  
That was the day I learned schools lock up in record time for Christmas break.  There wasn’t a soul in the dark building.  Which meant the gifts were stuck in her locker for two weeks.
Fortunately, I thought, the mix had a long shelf life.  Certainly the teachers would appreciate a gift just as much in January.
But January came, and I again made a naïve–and mistaken–assumption.
Seems there really isn’t a good time to give a teacher a late Christmas gift.  Alas, I didn’t know that until the school year was coming to an end.  It was time for the kids to clean out their lockers, and one of my daughter’s sweet friends quietly asked, “Do you think I could take one of those mason jars home and make some brownies?”
Besides the valuable knowledge that brownie mix has at least a five-month shelf life, I now also know that sometimes our kids don’t feel any urgency about expressing gratitude.  
So to all our teacher friends this season:  I’m sorry we can’t send you on the week-long spa retreat you really deserve.  And if you don’t receive a gift, don’t take it personally.  It will arrive eventually.

Posted on 2013-12-01 by Hallie Bandy