Christmas Cookies

Last week, one of my 4th graders brought Christmas cookies as his snack.

“Try one, Wheatzie!” he insisted.

“Oh, no thanks, buddy,” I said.  “You enjoy them.  They look great!”

They really did look great.  The one he was currently breaking a piece off of for me to try was a gingerbread man, decorated in a red icing suit with little candy buttons.

“I made them with my stepmom last night,” he explained, “and they’re so good.  She made sugar cookie batter and gingerbread batter, but I mixed both together and made these cookies.”  He signaled to the gingerbread cookie and another star-shaped cookie on his desk.  “You’ve got to try them.  They’re amazing!”

“Oh, I’m sure they are. And trust me, they’d be great with my coffee…”  I held up my Christmas-themed coffee mug; Christmastime in the classroom is truly one of the best times of the year.  Our maintenance man asks us if we want lights strung—he’d be happy to do it, he says, and I always take him up on the offer—and I put up a tree that the kids and I decorate with personalized elf ornaments complete with the kids’ pictures.  They get to take them home just before Christmas Break so their parents can hang them on their trees at home. The air is so full of Christmas spirit that you can feel it. 

“…but I’m gonna pass today—"

“—Here,” he said, ignoring my protests and placing a bit of cookie in my hand. 

I sighed.  “LISTEN, Jimmy. I’m not eating this cookie.”

“Why?”

I sighed again, this time a huge, exaggerated thing.  “Because I’m fat and I need to be skinny, okay?”

He paused for a moment and cocked his head, studying me with a confused look on his face.  “You’re not fat,” he said after a few moments.

This kind of made me stop in my tracks.  You see, my students and I have the best rapport, and it includes playful ribbing constantly.  So much so that sometimes I have to remind them that they are crossing a line and that even when we both know they’re joking, some things just shouldn’t be shouted out loud in front of a hundred other people at recess. (”Hey, kiddo…I know that you were joking when you said to me, ‘You’re so ugly I can’t believe you got your husband to marry you!’ but we can’t really say those things, even in jest…”)

So when they give me a compliment and they’re being all serious, it kind of melts my heart.

I looked at him and said, very simply, “Thank you.”

And had the story stopped there—had the story stopped where my 4th grader gave me a compliment that warmed my heart and added to the sparkling Christmas joy of the classroom—it would have been a beautiful thing, no?

But of course that’s not the end.

Still being totally earnest, a really good boy, thinking he was expanding on the compliment he’d just offered, Jimmy turned back to his cookies, snapped an arm off the gingerbread man, and bit into it as he said, “Yeah.  You’re skinnier than my dad.”

And then another child who had wandered into the vicinity nodded his head vigorously.  “You’re totally skinnier than my grandpa.”

In keeping with the Christmas spirit and the feeling of love that the children thought they were spreading that morning, I snarfed my piece of the gingerbread man (it was delicious), washed it down with a guzzle of my strong, dark coffee…and waited until I got home to cry.

‘Tis the season!

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