made arrangements with a close-by nursing home for my middle school students to read a Christmas story to the residents. The students were excited to partake in an activity outside of school yet nervous as to how to interact with the residents. They practiced reading their stories out loud and we discussed, as a class, how to politely interact with the residents. It is easy to misunderstand a middle school student. Many of us were one a long time ago and remember those years as being confusing and awkward. I watched my students go from being nervous and anxious entering the nursing home to elated and inspired kids walking out.
As I started to guide a particular group back, two girls ran up to walk with me. They told me that the lady they had read to shared with them that her last Christmas wish was to own a Christmas sweater to wear on Christmas. They looked at me with tears in their eyes and said, “We want to get her a Christmas sweater.” One of the girls asked me if she could call her mom who was in town Christmas shopping. She was so excited to tell me that her mom thought it was a wonderful idea.
The next morning, the girls came up to my classroom with a beautifully wrapped box. They wanted to know if I would go with them after school to deliver the gift to the lady. When the last bell of the day rang, the girls came bounding into my classroom overjoyed to deliver their gift. Before we left for the nursing home, I sat the girls down and let them know that I wanted them to be prepared if the lady cried. They looked at me horrified. “We don’t want to make her cry!” I explained that this kind gesture by two young ladies she had just met would most likely be overwhelming causing her to cry tears of joy. As expected the tears flowed down this beautiful elderly lady’s face as my two students blinked back their own. The look on that lovely lady’s face when she opened their gift will remain a special picture in my heart. She hugged the girls over and over thanking them profusely for making her Christmas wish come true.
As we walked back to school, I asked the girls if they realized that they had just given this lady so much more than a Christmas sweater. One of the girls, who so many people have misunderstood replied, “I will never forget her.” I looked at the girls and thanked them. They looked at me confused. I explained, “You have just given me one of the best Christmas memories I will ever have. That is what Christmas is all about.”
“We feel the same Mrs. M.,” one of the girls said as we walked back to school arm in arm.