Crystal was a student in my first kindergarten class when I began my career as a professional teacher. She wore only thin cotton dressses to school. In addition, she wore high-top athletic shoes, but never any socks. It was obvious she came from a family where not much money was available. One day she came to school limping and had big blisters on her feet. I explained to her that if she wore socks with her shoes she would not get blisters. The next day she came to school wearing some new pink nylon with white lace around the top. She explained to me that they were her Christmas present but her Mom said she could wear hem early. Crystal had a "no-nonense" way of just taking care of things.
As Christmas neared, Crystal came to school excited about a hole in her mouth and a whole dollar from the tooth fairy. On the last day before Christmas vacation, I spent some time indivdually with each student who had brought a gift for me This would allow me to personally thank each student. There was the usual assortment of "teacher gifts" and gaudy angel figurines that, as one student put it, her mother had gotten at the "crap" store. (craft store)
When it was Crystal's turn I unwrapped a dime store figurine of a small, happy porcelain clown. "Where did you get the money to buy such a wonderful gift?" I asked. Crystal smiled her familiar and ever-present smile. She revealed a whole row of missing teeth. I had to turn away so she would not misinterpret the thankful tears I had in my eyes.
Our family decided to leave"Christmas" on Crystal's doorstep that year. However, she had moved and we didn't know where. I have often often wondered since where Crystal is and what she is doing but but I will always be thankful for a brief encounter with her and for all she taught me.
What I learned: We are never too small or too poor to share thoughtful gifts. MERRY CHRISTMAS!