Monday, December 7, 2009

The Care Package Gift, Part 2

I am big on care packages. I love putting random things together to fit a theme. It's like a puzzle and it's like writing. You start with an idea, a goal, and you search for pieces that push you closer to that goal. And sometimes it ends up looking very different than you thought. I guess that's like lots of things, but for me, it is very much like writing.

This week is dedicated to care packages. I know I have at least four to talk about, and I am trying for a full seven. I give you full permission to start a slap-war with me if I don't make it.

I am much better at actually sending care packages when I am not working a zillion jobs, like now. Otherwise, I am really good at coming up with care packages that then sit on my kitchen table and gather dust while I feel bad about not getting to the post office. My friend A and I both love peanut butter. When we lived together in our first year in Chicago, we could not keep a jar in the house past two days. Between the two of us, I think we may have eaten our weight in Jif in about four weeks. When my friend A went to Guatemala to work on saving the world and other wonderful things for six months this year, she also started a blog. Within this blog, she asked for donations and gave us all updates on her progress and adventures there. (One of which included a story about a scorpion and the bathroom in the middle of the night. This is enough to make me not go there. Ever.) Anyway, being the wonderful friend that I am, I thought, I will send some money AND a care package. And then some unforeseen expenses came up. So then I thought, ok I can still send a care package. I bought a giant jar of peanut butter and a card and I found several old pictures of the two of us in college. And then I went out of the country for a wedding. So then I thought, I am a horrible person who has a giant jar of peanut butter sitting in a shoe box. I finally asked A for her address to send this package. To which she responded that there was no viable package-receiving address. So I ate the giant jar of peanut butter. I meant to send a donation instead, but then I got fired. And I still have all the rest of the parts of the package sitting in a shoe box on my kitchen table.

Anyway, when I am successful, a care package is sent at LEAST in the vicinity of a month around the celebrated date. For my mom's new teaching gig, I actually gave her a care package for Christmas, which kept me on time. My mom works at the same university at which I received my undergrad degree. Within the past few years, she took on an adjunct faculty role, teaching classes in the social work department. As a former, and sometime current, teacher, I decided to give her a package comprised of useful teaching tools. The entire thing was housed in, not a shoe box, but a clipboard that opens up to hold whatever stuff teachers need to have handy. This clipboard was something that did not exist when I was in the classroom and I have been eyeing it ever since. I think it is genius. I also think I would have shoved too many things in it to be effective.

In my mom's clipboard, I placed Post-It notes, binder clips with painted flowers on them, clickable Sharpie markers, stickers, index cards, file folders with pictures of France on them, and the coup de grace -- scented markers. Why on Earth would a college instructor need scented markers, you say? Because everyone loves them. In fact, I guarantee college students love scented markers MORE than my fifth grade students did. It reminds them of being a kid, of coloring in class and picking out their favorite scent. (Mine is the cinnamon.) To make this, and all other usefulness clear, I put little notes on each item and explained how I used them and why I included them. My mom cried.

To be fair, this is the best indication of whether my mom likes a present or not. If it's meaningful, thoughtful or just something really cool, she will cry. If my dad gives her a present and she cries, he will do a fist pump and then give the rest of us a thumbs-up.

The best part of this present is again, that it was useful. This time I am 100 percent sure that all of it was used. In fact, after using the scented markers in class once, my mom called me.

"They loved those. It was incredible. I've never seen anything like it -- they were all picking out their favorite."

The power of the care package is finding that piece that doesn't seem to fit and making it stand out as the whole point of the gift.

No comments:

Post a Comment