Pin It Sometimes greatest gifts come in the most unexpected of packaging…
I walked back to my desk on Monday of this week to pick something up, and that’s when I saw the note. It sat there, inconspicuously, like a secret message passed from a friend back from when I was still in school.
I glanced at it and saw the writing on the front, claiming that it was from my ‘silent student’. According to the message, it was to be read only during the Christmas break…not while we were still in school.
I slipped the note onto the shelf behind my desk and there it lay, catching my eye every now and again. However, it was more a mild curiosity than anything else.
It was later that afternoon that package arrived, it silently appeared on my desk as if placed there by Hogwart’s house elves. It lay, unassumingly, wrapped in a sheet of notebook paper. The handwriting—5th grade chicken scratch—was the exact same as on the note which had mysteriously appeared earlier during the day.
The message on this little package was clearly written: OPEN IT.
However, the bell had just rung, indicating that lunch recess had come to an end. So as my class filtered into the room, I set the package aside and began to teach.
The parcel lay on my desk throughout the day, not moving or drawing attention to itself in any way. Near the end of the afternoon, one of my students—I’ll call him Joey—approached me and asked if I’d opened any of my gifts yet. He glanced over to my desk where a few neatly wrapped boxes and bags lay.
I replied that I hadn’t.
He nodded, looked as if he were about to say something, then appeared to change his mind.
He walked away.
Throughout the rest of the day Joey stole glances to my desk, and the package that was wrapped so diametrically unlike than any of the others there.
When he left at the end of the day he wished me a good evening, glanced at the desk one final time, and then ushered himself from the room.
I began to correct assignments, enter scores, and clean up the messes left behind from 29 little people. As I passed my desk, the small haphazardly wrapped gift caught my eye.
Overcome with curiosity, I picked it up. It was light and flexible…whatever was inside wasn’t very heavy.
I carefully pulled away one side of the wrapping, that’s when I saw the tie.
It was ugly—probably something from this boy’s dad’s closet, or one he found at the local thrift store.
I cringed as I looked at the gaudy pattern that—in the gray parts—made it appear to be filthy. You see, I’m very particular of the ties I wear four of the five days of the week, and this one wouldn’t have made the list in a million years.
It was truly and awfully horrific. The pattern of it made me want to vomit…it was a tie throwback from yesteryear.
The tie remained on my desk as I packed up and went home.
That night, thoughts about that tie kept coming back to my mind…again and again I thought of it. I knew who’d given it to me…it was but obvious from his less-than-guarded inquiries throughout the day.
I had a nagging feeling in the back of my mind that I should wear that tie the next day to school. I brushed this feeling aside, but it kept returning…like an unwelcomed visitor during the holidays.
When I awoke the next morning, I finally decided that I’d wear the tie; however, I didn’t do this willingly. I had to practically force myself to put on my white shirt and black slacks. I felt frustrated because I wanted to wear a pair of khakis and a button-up shirt…this would have been far more comfortable ensemble than wearing my ‘suit’ as my students called it. As I thought of wearing that monstrosity back in my classroom, I felt myself settling into a bad mood. It was an ‘old man’ tie and I hated it…in fact, I even decided to take along another tie ‘just in case’ I didn’t feel that I could stomach wearing that one the entire day.
When I finally arrived at school I put the tie on.
I loathed the thing.
When the bell rang nearly an hour later, my students came into the classroom—and as we went over the language lesson for the morning, Joey’s eyes were riveted to the tie I wore…through my peripheral vision, I could see him staring at the tie intensely. He did this all morning long. Every time I went to help him with something, he’d gaze for a few seconds at the tie with a mesmerized look in his eyes.
I was can’t express how glad I was that I’d decided to wear it.
Fast forward to today…the students left for their holiday break at 12:30. When everyone was gone, I began entering grades and organizing assignments for nearly an hour. As I set something on the shelf behind me, I saw the note from Monday morning.
I opened it.
For those of you who may have difficulty reading the scrawl it says:
Dear Mr. Z,
I’m your silent student ‘Joey,’ I wrote this Journal so you can cry tears of joy. I just wanted to say that you’re the best teacher I have ever had. I like It when you tell jokes. I know you don’t know me veary much but I like you because you make school fun. So that’s what I wrote this so Merry Christmas Mr. Z!!!!!!
On the back it read:
P.S. go on facebook on Christmas and find a video that has a Lego guy on That’s my video.
I sat gazing at this note for quite some time.
Words cannot adequately describe the feeling that washed over me. It was a feeling like watching the first snowfall of the year as the silvery flakes tumble from the heavens; it was the feeling you get when the music rises at the end of the movie, and you realize that everything is going to be okay and everyone is going to live happily ever after; it was the feeling you get when your niece or nephew gives you a hug and tells you that you mean the world to them.
It now rolls on to nearly 6:00 and I still sit in my classroom as the hours trudge onward and the skies outside became dark, I look at that tie again.
This tie is one of my favorites…it’s beautiful and I couldn’t have asked for anything better from my student at Christmastime. You know what? Sometimes the greatest of gifts come in the most unassuming of packaging…