I had an interesting chat with my class last week when one asked me what I wanted for Christmas. My answer of “nothing” clearly bamboozled them. The thing about children is that they are naturally curious and my answer most definitely caught their attention. “Why not” tumbled from the mouthes of several of them. Good question. “I have everything I want or need” I replied. “So you are rich?” questioned another of them. An interesting question and, it turns out, a hard one to explain fully to eleven and twelve year olds.
I’m not rich in the way that they mean — oodles of cash and can buy anything I want in a flash. I am rich in comparison to many of them though. I have a nice house and it is well heated and warm. I have the luxury of a well stocked fridge. The things that I have I own outright, no interest free credit needed. I have very little family but I do have a group of friends so close that they have become family. My life isn’t perfect but I attack it with relentless positivity and that approach has brought me through some really tough times. I have enough money to be able to give to charity and gifts to friends and family and also strangers. I am rich in that respect.
Teaching children from poverty ridden backgrounds can be tough at times. I have given my own lunch away on many occasions. I have helped to put well fitting shoes on pupils feet and contributed to getting others uniform that actually fits them. I have answered tough questions about why ‘Santa’ brings more to some youngsters than others. Well, this conversation made me think deeply about what I treasure the most and the answer is that I enjoy giving people gifts. I had planned to give each of my pupils a small gift. I have changed my mind now, though. I’ll be giving them two. They can choose whether to keep them both or whether to give one away. My gift to them is not actually the ‘things’ I have given them. It’s the opportunity to experience the joy of giving.