Christmas List For a Grownup

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This post if by Joe Stephens

Every new school year, I have this crazy idea in my head that I’m not going to get so attached to my kids. I’m going to do my job and care for them like I should, but I’m not going to fall in love with them and let them break my heart on the last day. And then, somewhere along the lines, something happens to remind me I’m just kidding myself. It’s often around Christmas time. This year was no exception.

As I’ve written in a previous entry, we do a gift of words oral presentation in the days before Christmas break. Well, this year, a bunch of choir kids decided to do something special since our exchange coincided with the annual choir concert. Several are in my fourth period, but even some who weren’t got permission from their teachers to get out of class long enough to meet with us in the auditorium. They sang “Grownup Christmas List,” one of my favorites since I first heard Amy Grant sing it in the 1990s. As they sang and I, being a big cry-baby, teared up, I realized that the privilege of loving these kids is one of the greatest gifts I could ever ask for. These kids open their gifts, presents, christmas, bow, ribbon, silver, redhearts to me, loving me through the happy and the sad. One student, a future famous graphic artist, drew a picture of me as a gift. I was surrounded by Christmas packages and was holding a coffee mug (they know my obsession with coffee). On the mug was printed “#1 Dad.” When I questioned that, Lucas said, “You’re just like a dad to all of us.” Wow. What a gift.

My wishes for Christmas no longer have anything to do with things I can receive. And what I do receive matters way more to me because of who gives it to me than what it is. Last night after Christmas Eve service at church, my close friends (close friends doesn’t suffice–these people are family to me) the Delgados invited me over to their house, which is literally next door to the church. They gave me a small package in green in red wrapping paper. I opened it to find a pair of socks. That might seem like a small gift, but, first, it wasn’t just any pair of socks. They were nerd socks, covered with 1960s Batman-style sound effects, like “Pow!” and “Kabam!” Second, they were part of a set of socks that they’d gotten for the other members of our nerd group. These socks were special because they came from my brother and sister in Christ and also because they meant I was part of their inner circle. A close-knit group of people that mean the world to each other. What better gift could I ask for?

My Friends

My nerd group.

 

My wish for this Christmas is that, to paraphrase the lyrics of the song, each and every person who reads this blog will find a life that is not torn apart, that right would always win in your life, that you will always be able to find a friend who sticks closer than a brother, and that love would never end in your heart.

If we could all get that under our tree, I can’t imagine it would matter what else we got.

I would love to put in a video of the choir singing the song, but, as of now, no one has uploaded it to YouTube, so I’ll settle for the lovely Amy Grant version. Click here to see it.

Joe Stephens is a teacher at Parkersburg High School. He is also the author of Harsh Prey, Kisses and Lies, and the recently released In the Shadow, all of which are available in paperback and Kindle formats. The paperback may be purchased from Createspace, Amazon, and most online booksellers. In the real world, you may purchase from J & M Used Book Store in Parkersburg and from the author’s trunk.

ITS Cover ArtCheck out his newest book on Amazon

kindle cover

Take a look at Harsh Prey on Amazon 

Kisses and Lies Cover Michele croppedTake a look at Kisses and Lies on Amazon

Join Joe on Facebook 

Check out joe’s website.

 

 

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20 Responses to Christmas List For a Grownup

  1. Joe, your students are so lucky to have a teacher and mentor like you. If more of the kids of today had people like you teaching them values they would be much happier and less prone to getting into mischief. I totally agree with you that it’s impossible not to let them into our hearts- God put them there, after all. I know the value of spending Christmas with special people. I cannot tell you of the many wonderful Christmases spent in Mexico that will forever stay in my heart. Merry Christmas!

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  2. Doris says:

    Joe, That is the greatest gift of all, the gift of love we give to others with no thought of return. Your students, friends and ‘family’ get the gift of you and your dedication. Wishing everyone that great joy. Doris

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This post may have made me cry. Like…. a teeny bit. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s nice to be valued by those we serve.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautiful post, Joe, and a great reminder what’s truly important, and it’s not the material things, it’s love, respect, and relationships. Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Mike Staton says:

    On the basis of how your students go crazy for you, it’s obvious you are an exceptional teacher. I had one back in 1968-70 at Fort Frye, an English teacher, June Berkeley. She encouraged me to sharpen and hone my writing skills. No doubt some of your students were given your books as Christmas presents.

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  7. Neva Bodin says:

    Thank you for sharing this with us, Joe. When you truly care about others, they return the favor, and it sounds like there’s a lot of caring going on in your school and inner circle! You hit the nail on the head with what should be under the tree too. How great for your students and you will make such a difference in their lives. And congrats on the socks! May your new year be awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wranglers says:

    Joe, I now you had a lovely Christmas. You’re just that kind of person. Your students are so lucky to have you and so are your friends. I feel blessed that you are part of this group that you came into my life thanks for this wonderful post. Cherley (We need to get together for coffee or to break bread. Del has therapy Wednesday from 10:00 to 11:30 I have a church meeting at 12:00-1:00, and Bible study at 6:00. Could we work someting in the middle or maybe coffee after 7?)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joe Stephens says:

      I’m the one who’s blessed by being in this group. Thank you so much for inviting me! I might be able to do something Wednesday afternoon. Let me get back to you.

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  9. Sounds like you had a wonderful Christmas, Joe, and it was wonderful for me to read about it. Thank you. You are a very lucky man but I think you know that already. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Nancy Jardine says:

    I’ve still got some very simple gifts given to me by ex-pupils at Christmas and I cherish them for the memories they bring – though in my case I see those kids in my minds eye as they were at 12 years old, and not the adults they are now. I hope your Christmas break was a good one, Joe.

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  11. S J Brown says:

    I think it is wonderful that as a teacher you are making a difference in the lives of your students and they in return are making a difference in yours.

    Like

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