A blog by Lori Lyons

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gift ideas for teachers. And their wives.

As the clock ticks down on the remaining shopping days until Christmas -- 11 as of this second.
(Wait! Really? That's it? Holy crap! I haven't even started yet!)

My Internet feed is filling fast with articles from mainstream news makers and burgeoning bloggers alike, who are all offering shopping tips for every person on your list.

Even my mother.

Today I came across this one, offering fabulous ideas on what to buy that oh-so-hard-to-buy-for-teacher-you-love, or even the one you don't love so much. The article claims to have polled several actual, real life teachers, who were only too happy to offer their favorite Christmas gifts from students (and their parents).

As the wife of a teacher, the stepmother and step-mother-in-law of another, the aunt of another, the aunt-in-law of yet another, the wife of the ex-husband of another ... (go ahead... I'll wait)...
And the friend (on Facebook anyway) of countless more, I think I'm more than qualified to take a shot at this one.

I know what teachers like. Better yet, I know what teachers' spouses like:

1. Food. We aren't particularly picky either. Chocolate is best, of course (says Mama), but any kind of food is good. Candy, cakes, cookies, brownies, pies, delicious homemade concoctions cooked in your kitchen, or even Whitman's Samplers from CVS. It's all good. Even fresh fruit is nice. Satsumas you've grown in your backyard? We'll take 'em. We are the parents of a fast-growing tween/eating machine. She's hungry ALL THE TIME. And our schedules are pretty crazy, especially around the holidays. Neither one of us really has time to get to the grocery store. So anything to help stock the pantry is appreciated.

2. Restaurant gift cards. I'm not a bad cook. In fact, I'm pretty good. But when The Coach starts the coaching part of the year, there isn't very much time for family meals around the dining room table. And there's not much point in cooking for me and a tween who only likes macaroni and cheese.
Plus, our dining room table is usually covered with baseballs all spring and summer anyways.  And when The Coach and I do get to spend a little time together, we don't usually head for the kitchen. We do tend to eat out quite a lot. And we tend to be creatures of habit. We go to The Pub. A lot. So a nice little gift card to one of the major chains is always appreciated. By the wife, anyway.

3. Ornaments. Believe it or not, the teacher's wife who gets up on the ladder and decorates the tree every year (while the coach watches) really does appreciate the occasional hand-picked or even hand-made Christmas ornament. I'm one of those ladies who believes you can never have enough ornaments on a tree. And every year when I gently take each one out of the box (if it survives The Coach's packing of the box, that is), I will look upon it fondly as having coming from "that student."

4. Apples. Now I know that most of my teacher friends are going to cringe right now because most teachers I know already have more apple-shaped baubles than they know what to do with. And most teachers I know don't really appreciate them. But we happen to live on Apple Street. And, because of that, I have a fairly large collection of apple knick knacks and brick-a-brack. We eat on apple dishes. On apple place mats. In a dining room decorated with apples. So don't listen to him. There's always room for more, I say.

5. But the best gift you can give my husband is Thanks. You may not realize it, but the man I love burns the candle at both ends to be the best teacher, Coach, father, husband, son and son-in-law he can be.

He is up before dawn every day to get himself psyched and ready for his brutal schedule. And it is brutal.

Before my alarm clock even goes off, he's in his classroom helping special education students find their way, and troubled kids stay out of trouble, and other teachers teach them.

And just when I'm starting to watch the clock, counting the final hours till the end of my work day, he's heading off to the baseball field, where he'll spend several more hours trying to turn a bunch of hormonal teenagers into a winning team.

On practice days he'll spend hours teaching them to hit and catch and throw and pick runners off of first and third. And hit the cutoff man.

On game days, he'll get on a cramped, un-air conditioned school bus with no shocks and head off to some middle-of-nowhere town. He'll spend the next three hours taking what the umpire gives him. And if they lose, he'll take the blame.

And when that's over, there's field-prep and maintenance. Often he stays there, though, hitting that struggling kid a few extra ground balls, or a few extra swings, and sometimes explaining to his mom and a dad why the other boy is playing more than their son.

Meanwhile, his own child is at home without him, trying to do her math homework and wondering when he'll come home and what kind of mood he'll be in. Sometimes he'll even get home before she goes to bed. And maybe he'll even get to eat a little something before he crashes on the sofa or in his chair, utterly exhausted. And somewhere in there he has to call his mother.

Then he'll  get up the next morning and do it all again.

"Thanks." That's the greatest gift you can give him. And one I'll let him have all to himself.

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