Today was our last day of school, starting our winter break.  As I looked at my desk, covered in gifts and cards from my students, I thought to myself, “I am blessed.”

My kids gave me cards and letters telling me how I made a difference in their lives.  That was the best gift they could ever give me. 

It reminds you of the true meaning of this holiday–and it isn’t about material gifts.  At the end of each class, I had a line of students waiting to give me a hug and wish me “Happy Holidays.”  Yes, some gave me actual gifts ranging from chocolates to fun fuzzy socks to Starbucks gift cards galore.  But to me, a hug and a smile with well wishes are more meaningful.  And the handwritten notes/cards where the kids tell you how much you have helped them make you remember why you get out of bed every morning.

As stressed out as my job may be (I was more than ready for a break), it is nice to be reminded why I do what I do–it’s the kids.  There is nothing more profound or meaningful in this great big universe than making a difference in the life of a child, in my humble opinion.

I think that too many people get lost in the materialistic aspect of the holiday season.  It is not about how much money you spend on someone or getting them the latest, most popular item on the market.  It is about being together with your loved ones and letting them know how much they mean to you.  And for me, personally, it means more to me to get a letter from someone, telling me how much I mean to them, than to get an iPad or some other extravagant item. 

The best Christmas gifts are the ones that have meaning.  I have heard people say that Christmas isn’t as good for most families because the economy is bad and they don’t have money to buy an Xbox and or TV and other big ticket items.  But I think that Christmas should be better because the economy is bad.  I remember when I was a kid and my Mom would make our Christmas presents.  I thought it was so cool that I had a homemade diaper bag for my baby dolls.  I had a unique gift that no one else had.  And now, as an adult, I love the gifts my nephew makes me.  I treasure the rock he painted just for me and the dish he made me to put my keys in.

And maybe I am weird but I love to make presents for my friends and family.  I have made quilts, knitted scarfs, created photo albums, made costumes, and created family slideshow DVDs.  Yeah, I could go to Macy’s and spend tons of money that I don’t have on my friends or I can mat and frame a picture I took of their kid.  By not dealing with the hustle and bustle of the mall, my holiday is less stressful and I also get a warm fuzzy feeling inside, knowing that I gave my friends and family a unique gift that they will treasure.  That’s supposed to be the true meaning of Christmas, right?

Well, whether you agree with me or not, I just want to restate again that it was an amazing feeling to receive so many wonderful letters and cards from my kids today.  So like I said before, “I am blessed!”