The Christmas Present
It was the week before Christmas and the weather had turned very cold. The lake froze over, making it ideal for skating and playing hockey, and the toboggan hills were busy all day Saturday and Sunday and every evening. At school, however, it was a completely different story. There were large mounds of snow created by the snow plow that cleared the playground every morning, but of course we were not allowed to play on them. Each day, our principal, Mr. Evans, got on the P.A. system and warned us to stay off the hills at recess. And naturally, any icy patches on the playground were strictly off-limits, too. That left us with nothing to do at recess but stand around and shiver. It was probably because of our boredom that we noticed that the teachers who roamed around the playground on yard duty looked even colder than we felt.
"Looks like the teachers are suffering, too," I said, slightly glad that they were sharing in our misery for once.
"Yeah," said Paulo. "Look at the grade 8 teacher. He doesn't even have boots on. And look at Mrs. H. I guess she forgot her gloves."
Our teacher was walking around the yard with her hands stuffed into the pockets of a large coat. A trail of little kids followed her.
When the bell rang and we finally got back into our warm classrooms, I noticed Mrs. H. blowing on her hands to warm them up.
"Forget your gloves, Mrs. H.?" asked Gordon.
"No. I must have misplaced them," she said. "I'm sure they=ll turn up."
But the next day, Mrs. Hoagsbrith was still wandering around the yard with her hands in her pockets.
"I guess her gloves haven't turned up yet," Gordon commented.
"What?" said Paulo. "Whose gloves?"
"Mrs. H's," Gordon replied. "She said she lost hers. Hey, you know how some of the kids in our class said they're getting the teacher a present for Christmas? Well, how about if we chip in and get her a new pair of gloves? You know, to kind of make up for some of the things we've done to the poor lady."
| Paulo and I thought that was a great idea. Gordon's family was going Christmas shopping at the mall that night, and we decided to ask our parents if we could go along with them.|
When I told my parents that I wanted to go shopping for my teacher, they were pleasantly surprised. They agreed that I could go shopping with Gordon's family and my dad dropped me off at his house right after dinner. Paulo was just ringing the Smith's doorbell as I got out of the car.
Once we got to the mall, Gordon's family decided to split up so that what they bought for each other would be a surprise. His parents went one way, his sisters went another way, and Gordon, Paulo and I went to the department store to look for gloves. We had been told to meet at the food court in one hour.
The mall was crowded with Christmas shoppers, and we had to wait for 10 minutes before the saleslady could help us.
"We need a warm pair of gloves," I told the woman behind the counter.
"They're for our teacher," added Paulo. The woman pulled out several pairs and we picked out a nice fur-lined pair in black.
"What size does your teacher wear?" the saleslady asked.
"We don't know," said Gordon. "But she sort of looks like you. What size do you wear?"
The saleslady tried on several sizes and found the one that fit her best. "Would you like them gift-wrapped? It doesn't cost anything extra."
We paid for the gloves and left the store with a beautifully wrapped present. We had some extra time, so we decided to try and find Gordon's parents and snoop to see what they were buying Gordon for Christmas.
It didn't take long to find them. They were in the same store where we had bought the gloves. We were too late to snoop, though. They had several bags with them and we could see boxes all wrapped up in paper just like ours.
We met Gordon's sisters in the food court, and Mr. Smith treated everyone to hot chocolate. Then we loaded our gifts into the back of the mini-van and everyone piled in for the ride home.
| "Thanks for the ride and the hot chocolate," I said as I got out at my house. "Don't forget the present tomorrow, Gordon." I added.|
The next morning, Gordon appeared at school with the gift and a nice Christmas card. He had written a note to the teacher inside and told Paulo and me to sign it. Then we would give it to the teacher together. I read what Gordon had written.
Dear Mrs. Hoagsbrith,
We hope you like the present we bought you. We noticed you weren't wearing any the other day and thought you could use a new pair. The saleslady tried them on to make sure they fit.
The teacher's desk was piled high with gifts from students. We added ours to the pile and sat down. Mrs. Hoagsbrith thanked everyone and said that she would open the gifts at home. I guess she didn't want the kids who didn't get her a present to feel bad. I was feeling very good about our gift, and even better that today was the last day of school before Christmas vacation started.
* * * * *
At my house, we always open up our presents on Christmas eve. I think that's so my parents can sleep in on Christmas Day without my sister and me bugging them at the crack of dawn to get up. I got a bunch of really neat stuff, and for the first time since I can remember, not one single box contained underwear.
I woke up early the next morning and looked at all my stuff under the tree. No one was awake yet at my house, so I decided that it would be fun to go over to Gordon's house to see what he got for Christmas. I quickly got dressed, put on my coat and boots, and quietly closed the door behind me.
When I arrived at the Smith's house, they were only halfway through opening up their gifts. Gordon has four sisters, so it takes a long time to open all those presents. Gordon's mother insists that the presents be handed out one at a time by the youngest daughter.
| Gordon's mother got me a glass of eggnog and a cinnamon bun for breakfast, and the family went back to opening presents. I recognized the wrapping paper on several gifts. They came from the same department store where we had bought Mrs. Hoagsbrith's gloves. I hope she liked them.|
"Now these next gifts are all the same," said Mrs. Smith. "So you should open them together." Everyone tore the paper off the boxes at the same time. All of the boxes contained underwear. I laughed as Gordon held up a new pair of boxer shorts, and then it happened.
"Hey," said Gordon's youngest sister. "Mine's not the same. I didn't get underpants. I got these nice gloves!" She held up a pair of fur-lined black gloves.
"Hey," exclaimed Gordon. "Those look just like the gloves that we bought for.....OH, MY GOSH! THOSE ARE THE TEACHER'S GLOVES!"
"But then what's in the box we gave her?" I asked, and then it hit me. Gordon and I stared at each other open-mouthed. "Gordon!" I hissed. "You must have gotten the boxes mixed up! WE GAVE OUR TEACHER UNDERWEAR FOR CHRISTMAS!!'
Gordon's dad laughed out loud, and I thought I saw a smile on Mrs. Smith's face, too. His sisters began to giggle, and Gordon himself burst out laughing.
"It's not funny!" I said. "Don't you remember what you wrote on the card? We said 'We noticed you weren't wearing any!' We said 'The saleslady tried them on!!'"
That only made Gordon laugh harder. The entire Smith family was in hysterics. Apparently I was the only one who didn't think that this was funny at all. How would I ever be able to face my teacher again?
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