Who’s Gifting Who?

Looking back on a Christmas 2021 – I realized how sneakily it slid past, without truly, 100% recognizing what an impact others made to others this holiday. I had walked into a Wal Mart and saw already Valentine’s items up – and it is still December. The opportunity to SLOW moments down, to reflect on them, to soak them in, and have time to truly appreciate them, lives on a totally different time scale in Mexico than in the United States.

While both American, two different realities exist when it comes to the element of time devoted to reflection and celebrations – often over way to quick to absorb. Here are a few examples of extraordinary giving that occurred, that competed and helped many overcome the setbacks that 2021 presented to many.

Front stage and CENTER Having been invited to a colleague’s Christmas party – I found myself in the Rehoboth area stopping at a Dollar Tree store in search of labels for a funny / strange Christmas gift exchange that would be occurring that afternoon. Sure enough – Murphy’s Law would strike- (ironic history of this phrase, right? Check that link!) – For the last few days my 1997 Mercury Mountaineer, which has weathered several trips back and forth to Mexico City to Delaware and back, pile ons of whole Seaford Cross Country Teams, and carrying 6 total animals (canines and felines) from Mexico to name just a few, decided not to start. Randomly the last few days, just not starting then starting, trying EVERYTHING, in lieu of having a new key made to open all doors from the outside, it just chose the most inconvenient time to do so.

Although, again, all of these had been unexpected and inconvenient in their own way. Hood up, generous individuals will ing to come over and offer help, a jump, advice, etc to no avail. Calling my colleague letting her know I wound probably NOT make the exchange but holding out for that moment my vehicle would decide to jump back on – and 1 1/2 hours later, Voila!- it started! I decided at this point, it would stay running until I reached my final destination, not ideal, but darn it, I was avoiding Murphy’s law! As you might have guessed, I missed the gift exchange but my friend was gracious enough to feed me, we chatted (yep with vehicle running) and she gifted me some pretty awesome center pieces their Mom has made – and although the frustrating things had happened, keeping the faith and following through with making that visit – no matter what, resulted in alot of those centerpieces going home with students to share with their families, that might not have had centerpieces at all made of real pine and items from the outdoors.

It was a gift that lit many people’s eyes up, presented a warm gathering following a difficult and frustrating vehicle experience, and transforming the whole concept of what a gift really is and how it evolves. I appreciate the gifts I received from so many during my time in Mexico City and carrying them forward with me to Delaware. Priceless.

Gifting the Gift of Giving – When I first received the email from our principal, Mrs. Kirkland, it read simply this:

I am a Trooper at Troop 5 in Bridgeville and I organize our annual charitable campaign, The Needy Family Fund.  The reason for my e-mail is that I had the idea to offer the opportunity to assist with the wrapping of the gifts to some students who might need volunteer credit hours.  I reached out to Mrs. Sharp and she referred me to you.  If this is something you would like to offer to your students I would love to chat more to discuss details.

Thanks for your time and attention,

Cpl/3 Juanita Huey

What occurred next was pretty darn amazing. Over a period of a month, we were able to have the Woodbridge Library Media Center serve as a center for giving, but all thanks to the faculty, students, and community. The previous post I mentioned the project that Independent Students had finessed and organized to get books into the hands of many different locations – that was happening, the amazing giving campaign of community businesses like Callaway, Farnell and Moore, as well as immediate and farther neighbors of our community donating decorations and trees that would last for years to come, that was happening. (WRDE was amazing to bringing this holiday story to light to show what community means when combined with educational projects and reaching out into the community!) Add to this mix a decision to invest financially in Gingerbread House kits and watch students put these together, some that had never thought of the idea and wow, they turned out amazing – and I had never in fact done one, so the investment out of pocket to get these grew ten fold, it was the best thing I ever purchased watching the time and care the put into each of these – (OKAY I admit it, Math Skills WERE in play too!) that happened, so I was a little nervous about another activity happening – and yet –

Students from the Woodbridge National Honor Society, classes that had signed up to assist in wrapping, as well as Woodbridge High Independent Study students, combined tackled volumes and stacks and stacks of presents. It would have taken all day – and yet, students kept coming back for more and more and more – and finished leaving nothing to be done for the remaining two periods that had signed up!

If you watched closely, during this process from period 1 to 5- the holiday music in the background,

students getting candy canes and looking like a small gift production factory during the whole wrapping process, -it was pretty out of this world amazing to see members of the State Trooper division, Woodbridge High Students and faculty involved in a process that they otherwise might never have found themselves in together. I think what is even more outstanding is having a principal that had ideas that ultimately will impact so many others, and passing the wand on to so many others to let such generous ideas to help others occur, and let others make it happen. Be it from the library, educator’s classrooms, the students’ ingenuity, putting SGA and other groups to the challenge, the belief that someone can believe in another to carry out a generous act- is a whole other type of giving. The whole gifting entourage we experienced in December, with so much happening, magical.

Wreathing and Writhing – One of the coolest opportunities was Deck the Halls day as we take a break to work through some holiday cheer at Woodbridge High the last day of break. One of our students, without hesitation, volunteered to be on hand in the Library Media Center that day to help with the making of book wreaths. This used to be our goal when we wrapped gifts at Barnes and Noble for the holidays, and while we had students waiting, we would make a craft, often being the holiday book wreath which always snagged attention of those coming in and out. Hands down, from checking burnt out holiday lights, to putting on the factory hat, Wesley was able to churn out several book wreaths to gift to faculty and administration, as well as sit down alongside another faculty member supporting them in learning how to make her own, in ADDITION to suggesting what would make a better centerpiece for the book wreath and sure enough – it was AMAZING! Knowing a student like Wesley, his attention span runs at a pace faster than mine (yeah, I know!) and his ability to focus his abilities to benefit and gift the above mentioned energies to so many others in such a short span of one afternoon? – Again, priceless.

Looking back on all of these amazing feats occurring in December, and thanks to the countless individuals that came together to make so many possibilities a reality, it is worth slowing down, NOT getting caught into the machinery of what is next months ahead of the “What’s Next?” and appreciating the gifts that have been gifted to us, right in front of us. That is worth bringing in the New Year, looking back on gifts such as these.

About Harry Brake

Employee of Woodbridge High School, Library Media Specialist, Media crazy! :)
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