My Most Disappointing Childhood Gift


Country at HeartI can still see myself even after all these years. It's Christmastime (at our little country school), and I'm probably in the third grade. There are three grades in each classroom. The highest grade seats were next to the door, and I remember that I'm seated in this row. I'm sure the other kids are as anxious as I am to receive our much awaited gifts from Miss Teacher so we can see what she bought us.

She smilingly and tenderly hands the gifts out to the other grades first, so I'm waiting – on pins and needles. Finally, by the time she gets to our class row, the first and second graders have already torn the gaily wrapping paper off their presents and are smiling, laughing and giggling to the max. They're more than satisfied with their little gifts.

Then, finally, Mrs. Smith hands me my gift. Before I finish taking it out of her hand, my heart is beating rapidly and I can't seem to find a smile to put on my face. I think kids have a degree of ESP or intuition to perceive when something is about to happen that may not make them happy.

Disclaimer: The gift has nothing to do with the teacher's dislike of me nor is the gift inappropriate for a kid my age. I was perhaps 8 years old. She was kind, loving, considerate, thoughtful, and a simply beautiful person – both inside and out. So, what I say is not a negative reflection on her. Well, anyway, I'm staring at this small, flat, beautifully wrapped "something" and holding my breath while I rip the wrapping paper off and sadness fills my heart.

I was sitting there thinking, "Why would she buy the other kids a toy and buy me this book ... and of all things about ... birds. ... It's not even a gift." I couldn't even appreciate the fact that she at least thought enough of me to buy me something. You know how immature children think. Even as young as I was, I knew it was rude to show displeasure with what someone graciously gives you. More than anything, though, I was upset with the other kids who were enjoying their Christmas to the hilt.

Beyond that moment, I have no idea what I said or did. All I know is that I didn't want a book for a present. ... I wanted a "real" gift. But when I look back on it, I realize that my teacher had some insight, that as a child, I didn't have, and she also had some foresight that also as a child I obviously lacked.

10/22/2013 4:31:06 PM

AG, I guess I've never thought about the worst gift. I do remember a gift that a teacher gave to me. It was third grade and I was attending a little one room school. Yeah, I'm really old. At Christmas she gave all the kids in the school a pair of finger nail clippers in a little leather pouch with our initials engraved in gold letters. I carried those clippers in my pocket for many years before they just finally broke. That was a sad day. That same teacher introduced me to the Hardy Boys books. It set me on a book reading journey that hasn't stopped yet almost 60 years later. Isn't it amazing how some teachers can effect the course of the rest of your life. ***** Have a great book reading day.

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