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Mon Dec 24, 2012, 10:28 PM

Every year I ask my students to write an essay about the ONE thing they want for Christmas.

Only one thing. They have to choose. And they need to tell me why they want this one thing. And why they deserve it.

They always grumble at first and tell me they have 15 or 20 or 50 things on their list. They can't possibly pick just one. But eventually they do and I always get some really interesting essays. Some of them write about whatever the year's hot new toy is. Some lie and say they've been the best kid ever so they really deserve to get what they are asking for.

A few pick something like a new house for their family or a bag of money for their family. And every year some kid (usually a girl) writes about the one thing they would really like to give their little brother or sister.

Then one year I got an essay I'll never forget. It said ---

All I want for Christmas is electricity.

This kid was the sweetest little boy. He had 3 brothers and they lived with his aunt who had 5 kids of her own. His mom was a drunk who bounced in and out of jail and rehab. She came to school one time and you could smell the booze in the room for an hour after she left. Aunt had legal custody and did the best job she could but feeding 9 kids was a struggle. And that year, right before Christmas, she didn't have enough money to pay the electric bill.

And this sweet kid, who deserved to have a sack full of presents, only wanted electricity.

I think about that little boy every Christmas. And I hug my own kids and am so very thankful for what we have and what we are able to give each other.

So this Christmas Eve, hug your loved ones, reflect on the good things in your life and be grateful for what you have. Especially electricity.

Merry Christmas, DU!

p.s. Yes, we were able to contact a local agency who helped Aunt pay her electric bill and found another charity to take some groceries and presents to their home on Christmas Eve. When school started after Christmas break, that little boy told me he had the best Christmas ever. And I believe he probably did.

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Reply Every year I ask my students to write an essay about the ONE thing they want for Christmas. (Original post)
proud2BlibKansan Dec 2012 OP
femmocrat Dec 2012 #1
proud2BlibKansan Dec 2012 #2
Skittles Dec 2012 #3
proud2BlibKansan Dec 2012 #16
Skittles Dec 2012 #27
Hoyt Dec 2012 #4
proud2BlibKansan Dec 2012 #5
calimary Dec 2012 #37
riverbendviewgal Dec 2012 #6
KCDem Dec 2012 #7
proud2BlibKansan Dec 2012 #13
ZombieHorde Dec 2012 #8
Lucky Luciano Dec 2012 #28
ZombieHorde Dec 2012 #34
Lucky Luciano Dec 2012 #36
ZombieHorde Dec 2012 #38
NYC_SKP Dec 2012 #9
DrewFlorida Dec 2012 #10
SunSeeker Dec 2012 #11
madfloridian Dec 2012 #12
busterbrown Dec 2012 #14
proud2BlibKansan Dec 2012 #15
DiverDave Dec 2012 #17
JNelson6563 Dec 2012 #18
Starry Messenger Dec 2012 #19
corneliamcgillicutty Dec 2012 #20
lunatica Dec 2012 #21
japple Dec 2012 #22
heaven05 Dec 2012 #25
Honeycombe8 Dec 2012 #23
heaven05 Dec 2012 #24
proud2BlibKansan Dec 2012 #31
heaven05 Dec 2012 #33
proud2BlibKansan Dec 2012 #40
iemitsu Dec 2012 #39
Dont call me Shirley Dec 2012 #26
demwing Dec 2012 #29
proud2BlibKansan Dec 2012 #30
littlemissmartypants Dec 2012 #32
iemitsu Dec 2012 #35

Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 10:30 PM

1. This is why we teach.....

and Merry Christmas to you, p2BlK!

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Response to femmocrat (Reply #1)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 10:35 PM

2. Yes it is. It's sure not the salary that attracts us.

Merry Christmas to you and yours as well!

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 10:44 PM

3. I am glad you added that P.S.

I know how you teachers are

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Response to Skittles (Reply #3)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 06:58 AM

16. Merry Christmas Skittles!

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Reply #16)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 05:00 PM

27. BACK AT YOU MY SWEET

YEE HAW!!

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 10:49 PM

4. Thanks teachers everywhere. Merry Christmas.

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Response to Hoyt (Reply #4)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 11:10 PM

5. Merry Christmas to you and yours, Hoyt!

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Response to Hoyt (Reply #4)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 09:50 PM

37. +1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000!

Our daughter's kindergarten teacher carried a tote bag with her that carried the inscription: "I touch the future. I teach."

SO true. I've never forgotten that. Really makes you think. And it always gives me a valuable perspective on how critically important our teachers are. We owe our teachers our future.

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 11:15 PM

6. now that is truly the xmas spirit

Thanks. Peace and love to you.. thanks for being such a great teacher.

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 11:28 PM

7. What age/grade do you teach?

I am at a Title I high school, and it's just so sad knowing that some of these kids dread the holidays because the only constant in their lives is school. The weeks leading up to Christmas and to the end of the school year are always stressful. So good of you to arrange this child and his family to have a Merry Christmas!

Yup... teaching sure doesn't pay, but the benefits can be outstanding.

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Response to KCDem (Reply #7)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 01:24 AM

13. Elementary

This kid was a 4th grader.

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 11:43 PM

8. Interesting assignment, especially since no one really deserves anything. nt

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Response to ZombieHorde (Reply #8)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 05:10 PM

28. Cheer up. nt

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Response to Lucky Luciano (Reply #28)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 07:04 PM

34. Did my post come off as sad? nt

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Response to ZombieHorde (Reply #34)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 09:50 PM

36. More grumpy curmudgeon than sad. nt

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Response to Lucky Luciano (Reply #36)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 10:12 PM

38. I think my writing comes off grumpier than I indend.

I'm a fairly silly, light-hearted guy.

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 11:43 PM

9. An excellent assignment, p2blk!

One day we must exchange writing prompts.

I had one for every day of the school year back in the day, some were better than others.

I would love to have used this one, though it would have elicited many similarly sad stories with my incarcerated students, I imagine.

Happy season.

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 11:44 PM

10. That's a moving story, and very appropriate in a time of high unemployment and foreclosure.

May 2013 be a better year for those who have less!

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 12:12 AM

11. Thanks, I needed that.

I have to concentrate on stories like that as my family goes off to spend Christmas with my in-laws. They have the huge house, so everyone goes there for Christmas. And all of their kids are spoiled brats who don't appreciate what they have and are never impressed with what they get. And yet, each year the parents top the prior year in terms of money spent on these brats. And they expect me to deluge their kids with presents as well. I only do it because my husband does not want to create friction within his family. My husband is the only progressive in the family. The rest of them are all right wing evangelical Christians, who constantly post crap on Facebook about the "War on Christmas." It is these clueless hypocrites who are killing Christmas.

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 01:11 AM

12. There were so many times like that at my last school before retirement.

Local support agencies knew my voice and that of other teachers at our school. That's very moving.

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 01:28 AM

14. Two Things......

Fuck Scott Walker and all like him
and Bless you for what you do!

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Response to busterbrown (Reply #14)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 02:26 AM

15. Agreed

Merry Christmas!

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 07:20 AM

17. I could have been that kid

We had some dire years growing up.
Thank you for reaching out to him.

My kids have no idea how good they have it...

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 07:44 AM

18. Very moving story.

Teachers can be like guardian angels (they can also be a source of hell in kids' lives but we'll skip that for now).

Your story reminds me of my own guardian angel teacher story where I was the 2nd grade student. I used to get bronchitis annually as a child. Really bad. My mom was not the nurturing type, couldn't stand it when we kids were around. She sent me to school pretty sick sometimes. Once I was so bad I coughed up all sorts of nasty stuff during the pledge of allegiance. I was very embarrassed and did my best to hide all the snot that came out of me in a piece of paper, which I stuck in my desk.

After the pledge my teacher came over to me and took me to the office. She went in to talk with the principal and the next thing I knew my mom came and got me. I was so relieved to go home to bed but was stressed about all the snot-paper in my desk. For some reason I was embarrassed and just wanted to get it out of there and into the garbage. When I went back to school the first thing I did was go to my desk to deal with it and it was gone.

My teacher had seen all and cleaned up the mess for me as well as making sure I went home when I was too sick for school. I will never forget her kindness and caring, more than y own mom. Her name was Mrs. Robbins.

To all the Mrs. Robbins of the world (and especially those of you on DU):

Julie


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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 09:52 AM

20. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story.

I would bet that every Christmas he thinks of you and is very grateful for the caring and support you gave to him and his family. Thanks to you, I sit here in my warm little home and am so very thankful for all that I have. I am sure you have had a positive influence on all the young lives you have taught through the years. I too taught 4th grade and loved it! I wish you a very happy Christmas and peace and joy to you and your family in the new year.

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 09:55 AM

21. It's heartbreaking

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 11:49 AM

22. Thank you for posting this beautiful story. And thank you to all of the great

teachers out there who are "first responders" in the lives of many children and families who are in need. I truly appreciate all of the wonderful teachers I had during my years in school. Most of them were kind, caring, and dedicated to the higher ideals of their profession. Bless you for being one of the good guys.

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Response to japple (Reply #22)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 01:39 PM

25. yeah

I had some good ones also. Didn't really appreciate that fact until I got into college and was glad I listened to them. And my appreciation and my esteem for them grew recently. Very fine, giving and brave people.

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 11:58 AM

23. Wow. That tugs at the heart strings. Hopefully the little boy will use his poor childhood

as a springboard to becoming a productive citizen in his adulthood, without a booze or drug problem, so that he is able to provide electricity to his children. The hardships never leave you.

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 01:34 PM

24. well

he also got the gift of kindness shown by fellow human being. How can we be a race(human) of people who will show such kindness to each other and then have some who do such horrible things? Yin and yang? Positive and negative? Good and evil? My list goes on and on. Really is hard to reconcile sometimes.

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Response to heaven05 (Reply #24)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 05:33 PM

31. I have a hard time with wingnuts who don't believe we should help the poor.

I'll never understand that mindset. If we do nothing we know how these kids will turn out. But if we help them, we may also save a few.

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Reply #31)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 05:47 PM

33. well

as long as people like you exist, there is hope for humanity. Good cheers for the season to you. I raise my glass to you.

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Response to heaven05 (Reply #33)

Wed Dec 26, 2012, 12:30 AM

40. Ah thanks.

Merry Christmas!

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Reply #31)

Wed Dec 26, 2012, 12:08 AM

39. I feel the same about right wing attitudes toward the poor

(actually its not just right wingers, many Americans show disdain for the poor). I suppose, for some, rejecting and belittling the poor is a defense mechanism, allowing them to ignore a problem they feel powerless to change and for others, blaming the poor for their own poverty provides justification for them to keep more than they can use. Who knows? But its a creepy attitude.

My mother-in-law, who is not an evil person but who has had to be frugal to survive, is in the habit of saying, about those with cardboard signs (identifying their needs), that they beg for money all day then walk a block to where their Mercedes-Benz is parked and drive it to a beautiful home in a nice neighborhood. She is absolutely convinced of the accuracy and believability of this story and is sure that it applies to most of the needy she sees on the streets.
If you can imagine her spitting this condemning accusation (when she sees someone down on their luck), in a heavy Japanese accent, perhaps you can also imagine my reaction to her attitude. At first I made a point of giving a few dollars, to those in need, when we were out shopping or when she was in the car with me.
It really drove her crazy, no she really thought I was crazy, but she stopped saying nasty things about the poor around me.
When I am around republicans or others with anti-charity attitudes, I am compelled to be openly generous toward those in need.
They need the model.

I am not usually an advocate of showy or grandiose gestures and I recognize that something is lost when charity is motivated by a desire to "teach the avaricious a lesson", but I will admit to a certain satisfaction associated with the act. I try to counter this wicked aspect of myself by quietly donating time and resources to community groups, which provide for those in need, and to individuals who need some help.

Giving to someone in need is its own reward. I suspect that those, who don't believe we should help the poor, have never tried it.

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 04:15 PM

26. KS is so lucky to have liberal teachers like you

Merry Christmas

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 05:28 PM

29. So what happened to the child?

Was his just a story to remind us how bad it can get? Did you and the other teachers do anything to help?

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Response to demwing (Reply #29)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 05:31 PM

30. Yes I mentioned that at the end of my post.

I also thought I made it clear that this is a story to remind us to count our blessings.

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 05:37 PM

32. If you can

read this....thank you Mrs. Mink for a great first grade experience and teaching me to read. I may love books now more than I love people. But don't feel bad, Mrs. Mink. I write, too. Love, your former student. LMSP

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 09:22 PM

35. Dear proud2Blibkansan, thank you for sharing your sad and heartwarming Christmas story.

I am constantly struck by the stories of hardship experienced by many of my students. It reminds me that I have nothing to complain about.
I knew how your story would end because you are a teacher. Teachers are wonderful resources, they can find answers and solutions to problems. I knew that if you could not find a way to get the power turned back on, through the community, you would have paid the bill yourself. Christmas day (or any day for that matter) without electricity or food, and nine children in the home, would have been very difficult for the mom/aunt. Your intervention that Christmas made the day wonderful for the whole family, not just your student.
I'll bet they all remember that Christmas as the best one ever.
You did not say whether or not you had your own children at home that year but if you did, I'd bet they remember that as a special Christmas too.
I know how one feels when they can provide that kind of help to someone in need. There is nothing quite like it.
I hope you had a very Merry Christmas and that your new year will be the best one ever.

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