Inconsequential Gifts

A gift worth its weight in gold…

One afternoon, during my first year of teaching, one of the parents of a student came into my classroom and asked me if I wanted a box of envelopes.  She worked at a Hallmark (google it, kids) and for some reason or another had this huge box of envelopes that was just going to get dumped, and she wanted to know if I had any use for them.  “Sure…I guess…” I responded.  I wasn’t really sure what I would do with them, but as a new teacher, I needed all the supplies I could get.  Plus, it looked like it meant a lot to her, since she took the time to come by the classroom after school to offer them to me. So, in the spirit of scholastic community, I reluctantly agreed to take them, and the next day she brought in this gigantic box full of envelopes.  I’ve never seen so many envelopes at one time!  There were thousands of them!  All different kinds, shapes, sizes, and colors.  I thanked her, found a cabinet large enough to store them in (no easy task), and went about my business of learning and growing as a teacher over the next several decades.

As the years rambled on, I came to realize that these envelopes were indeed pretty handy to have around, and I utilized them quite often.  Whether it was holding loose change and bills from a book order or a baby tooth that fell out during math, I found more and more uses for them.  I’d employ them to send confidential messages to other teachers, for student pen-pal letters, and on bulletin boards.  Having them available saved me lots of time over the years, as well.  If I needed a container for something tiny or to send something small home to a child’s parents, boom, it was readily available.  No need for a frantic search of a container in the middle of a lesson!  I ended up finding a plethora of applications for those envelopes, and they proved to be worth their weight in gold!

One day, earlier this year, just before school got cancelled because of Covid-19, I reached into the box to grab a few envelopes and realized that my supply was approaching near depletion!  It caused me to reflect on the fact that this seemingly trivial contribution from the past ended up serving me remarkably well for 25 years!  I wish so much that I could find that parent and tell her how useful that “inconsequential” box of envelopes ended up being for me over the course of my teaching career!