I always wanted to be the kind of mom who has the house decorated for each holiday. In Nate’s lifetime, we’ve managed to pull of Christmas. Sometimes, there’s a spring-like decoration, too. And we always keep the spirit of autumn with us because my dear friend Anne gave us some pumpkin dishware that I never manage to put away. By the time I remember, it’s so close to fall that I just figure I’m better off leaving the dishes on display in the cabinet.
I used to be pretty crafty, too, but the time for those types of adventures has also faded since Nate’s arrival. However, I combine the two passions — crafts and holidays — when it comes to classroom gifts.
As we’re making the gifts, Nate and I like to think about the person who will receive it and how much they mean to us. I get a lot of my ideas from Pinterest (you can follow me here; Yolanda Vega is my pseudonym. She’s my most favorite lotto numbers announcer in New York City!) and we give the ideas our own flair. When Nate was in day care, we made these sweet treats for his classmates for Valentine’s Day. They’re shovels in a bag of candy with a note that says, “I Dig You!”
For the younger kids (Nate split his time between a younger and older class), we gave out bubble wands with a note that says, “You Blow Me Away!”
At the end of extended school year, Nate made special bookmarks for each of his summertime therapists.
During the academic year, we try to use the holidays to thank everyone who is on Nate’s team — and I mean everyone, from the librarian to the school nurse. Two Halloweens ago, we gave out themed tissue packs and hand sanitizer with a note that said, “Say Boo to Germs!”
Because of food allergies, our holiday treats to Nate’s classmates cannot be edible. So we did stickers for Halloween with fun tags.
We also turned orange socks into wee pumpkins for Nate’s teachers!
To facilitate all of this, I’m always on the lookout for a good deal. Nate’s immediate therapy team is huge – 1 lead therapist, 2 para-professionals, 1 speech pathologist, 1 occupational therapist, 1 physical therapist, and 1 BCBA — so setting a $10 per person limit already gets us up to $70. (And then there’s the teachers of Nate’s integrated classes – library, gym, art, and music!) One holiday when Nate was in pre-K, we gave his therapists acrylic drinking glasses (with a lid and straw), which held a gift certificate for an iced coffee. I scored the cups on clearance at Hallmark the summer before so we were able to give a really high quality gift at a reasonable price.
A few Christmases ago, Chad and Nate got me a Silhouette. It’s like a Cricut machine only it doesn’t rely on cartridges; you download all of the patterns online or you can easily make your own. The Silhouette let me transform a Pinterest idea into this for Valentine’s Day 2013:
Get it?!? Bee Mine – with a Burt’s Bee’s lip balm?!? It was the perfect gender-neutral gift too. Nate’s female teachers got the Burt’s Bees lip balm with pomegranate, which has a hint of pink, and Nate’s lone male teacher got the regular flavor.
Since Nate’s with the same therapy team for multiple years, we have to get creative! For Valentine’s Day 2014, I baked brownies for his therapists (we all trust each other well enough that I’m pretty sure they ate them). My friend Jamie made hair bows for Nate’s gal pals and we gave the boys dinosaurs…because Nate thought his friends were “dino-mite!” (Hardee-har-har!)
My favorite craft was very early on in Nate’s therapy when he was still using the picture exchange system (PECS). We created PECS bookmarks for his teachers and therapists at Thanksgiving time so say that Nate was grateful for each and everyone one of them!
How do I find time to do all of this? Well, with the exception of the baked goods, I plan ahead…I mean I really plan ahead. I might be making Valentine’s packages during Winter Break. I do what I can when I can even if that means it might be nowhere near the actual gift giving day.
Hope this post inspires you to be grateful for the ones in your life. It’s always lovely to remind your friends, family, and colleagues how very appreciated they are every day.