“I can always spot you a mile away – your coat is a beacon.”
We were chatting in the schoolyard as usual, waiting for our children to exit for the day and hurry home for snacks.
“I should get one of those for outdoor learning time with my kindergarteners. I hate wearing those safety vests, especially over my winter coat. That looks so warm, too. Might need to invest in some new teacher gear.”
We both chuckled and then moved on to other small talk. The bell rang minutes later and our children rushed over to our waiting spot, bursting to ask if their friends could come over and if we’d carry their backpacks for them while they did the monkey bars one last time before the walk home. Eventually he went his way, and I went mine.
A few months later there was a knock on the door. When I opened it, there he was, the husband of my friend, smiling and holding out a brand-new neon orange fleece coat.
“I got this for you at work. I remembered how much you said you could use one for your job.”
I’ve received many thoughtful gifts in my life:
- a copy of my favourite novel after I’d dropped the original in the tub
- a necklace with all four of my boys’ names engraved on it.
- my four children (most days)
- a latte dropped off when I was housebound with four children under six who had the chicken pox
- the chipmunk stuffy from my dad that was not what I’d asked for, but cherished
There are many others I could mention, but the best gift I’ve ever been given was the bright orange safety jacket.
I’ve bestowed the name Big Orange to this coat as it is indeed big and quite orange. It is a fantastic coat and by far the best piece of teacher clothing I have ever owned. It is roomy and has large pockets where I store bandaids, tissues, mittens, pens, and sometimes my sanity. Students exclaim over it, teachers envy it. The coat is essentially the Room of Requirement in clothing form.
Its functionality is second to none, but that is not why it is the best gift I’ve ever received. You see, the coat was really a message to me. I was valued enough that a casual comment I made was filed away and remembered. That coat told me that I was heard and seen by this friend, that I matter.
Best gift ever.