As I handed out the envelopes on the last day before Christmas break, I cautioned my students, “Everybody has the same gift, so don’t open yours until everyone has theirs. You will, however, find a personal message inside, so be sure you read it.”
They dutifully waited until I gave the word, and then the room grew quiet as they read their cards. A few looked up and grinned at me without saying anything, but one girl said, “I kind of want to cry now.” Another girl echoed her agreement. One student jumped to his feet and gave me a quick hug.
Inside their cards they’d found just a few specific lines about what I appreciated about them personally. For one, it was how quickly he volunteers to help; for another, it was how hard she works to improve. I told one that while some days he makes me crazy, his sense of humor always makes me laugh. And I told another that even though she still has loud days, I appreciate how hard she is working to be more quiet.
I wrote 29 cards this year, but I’m pretty sure you have fewer teens than that in your life. What if you took the time to write a few thoughtful, meaningful words and give it to them? You don’t have to be eloquent; just mention one or two qualities or actions that you appreciate.
It’s a gift that will stick with them long after the gift cards are spent and the electronics are obsolete, and one that could make a real difference on those days when they feel unlovable.