To start off this series of stories and memories of Christmas, I thought today I’d talk about a gift that taught me a lot.
When I was a teacher, I had a student…well, I had lots of students, but this one was a good kid. Shy, sweet and yet, popular. I’ll call him Matt. That’s not his name, but oh well.
Matt got along with everyone and was always happy. I enjoyed having him in class. He helped out when I needed things taken to the office or copies made. Right before Christmas, the day before break started, he showed up in my classroom. This wasn’t odd since he liked to spend lunch time in my room. Lots of kids did. I didn’t mind because I enjoyed the noise.
Here’s the thing. He handed me a gift. “Mrs. Z, I hope I didn’t break it.”
He hadn’t. The small box contained a blown glass bear ornament. I loved the little bear. I told him thank you and when I got home, I’d put it on the tree. I did, by the way. Went right on the tree that night.
The thing about this ornament that taught me the lesson wasn’t when I received the gift, but when I went back to school after break. Christmas Eve night, two students I’d had that year were in an accident and passed away. I found out about the accident on the television. It was rough. I’d told this other student, a bit of a pill honestly, that I’d see him after break. I never talked to him again. Every time I look at that ornament, I think of Matt and Noah, the young man who passed away.
Time passes and I haven’t forgotten Matt or Noah. Not a bit. But where I know what happened to Noah…I don’t know what happened to Matt. He grew up and I stopped teaching. I know he went on his way, but I don’t know what he does or where he is. I hope he’s happy and I’d love to tell him I’m proud of him. But I get a little sad because I lost touch with him and many of my former students.
So when I see that ornament, I think of the lovely Christmas gift and how precious life is. I think about the people I knew who have come in and out of my life. Family, friends, students, former students, fellow authors and especially my readers…I love you all and I’m glad I have and have had you in my life.
Hug your loved ones a little tighter this year.