Do I Have to Pay to Appreciate Them?

This note was in my son’s folder at school today:


Teacher Appreciation Week is May 5th – 9th

If each family donates $20.00, we can make it a GREAT TEACHER APPRECIATION WEEK for all the teachers here at C___ C___.

The money will be used to buy: Breakfast, Lunch, gifts, cards & more. Please place $20.00 cash into B____ M____’s folder ASAP!

All money needs to be collected by May 2.


I don’t have an issue with announcing that it’s Teacher Appreciation Week. I didn’t know, and it’s always a good idea to acknowledge people.

Still, several things bother me about this request. And it’s not just about this particular request, and it’s not about the teachers. Its about office group gifts and family group gifts and a general shift to doing things out of obligation, not because we really want to.

I hate that these days appreciation equals cash. To me showing appreciation is making a personal gesture to thank someone for doing a good job, or showing extra care, or going the extra mile. Giving cash is, to me, the most impersonal of gifts. It seems to say, “you’re not worth the time or effort for me to either figure out something you’d really enjoy,” or, “you’re not worth the time or effort to give you something of myself.” That’s why I hardly ever give cash. That said, I know lots of people like getting cash and gift cards, including me. I’m not saying anyone should never give cash, but it should be the choice of the giver.

I also don’t like the note practically mandating a $20.00 donation. Especially when gas is now $3.67 a gallon, and milk is about the same. And when my grocery bill went up 25% this month and Husband’s income didn’t. Perhaps for some people $20.00 is too much, but $10.00 would be doable. No mention is made of a lesser contribution, and no telephone number is included for questions.

And if I do decide to contribute cash, I’d like the gift to be not quite so complicated. The money will be used to buy: Breakfast, Lunch, gifts, cards & more.?” What, are we sending them to Club Med? If we’re going to give cash then let’s give them cash, or a gift card to Target or Barnes and Noble or Outback even Publix. Heck, they’re having to pay the same high prices for food and gas that we are.

And why must everything be a group gift? I really dislike group gifts, unless it’s to pitch in for a really expensive gift that I know the recipient would love to have.

I would like this occasion’s gift to be more personal. So I’m going to bake my World Famous Banana Bread and write each of the two teachers a nice note thanking them for investing themselves in Son. I’m pretty sure they’ll feel appreciated.


11 Responses to “Do I Have to Pay to Appreciate Them?”

  1. Patty Says:

    I am in shock that the school even sent home this note, but after hearing other things that you have said about the school in the past, I suppose I shouldn’t be. LOL I know if I had parent bring me banana bread I would be happy!

  2. learningwoman Says:

    Hi BTW, I feel just the same way about this stuff. I dislike feeling pressured to give money as part of a group gift and I think the banana bread is a great idea!

  3. Emily Says:

    How many students are there? $20 seems like a lot for each family. I like your idea better. Except, well, you know…I would want like cinnamon raisin bread and not banana. 🙂

  4. JHS Says:

    Thanks for participating in this week’s Carnival of Family Life, hosted at Write from Karen! Be sure to stop by on Monday, May 12, 2008, and peruse the other wonderful articles included in this week’s edition!

  5. janeycat Says:

    I was reading this and thinking… “Make something, make something”, so I’m really glad you will be doing that instead.

    Imagine if even half the families made or bought something special (and useful) and took it in for their teacher.

    I’m not a teacher, but I do know that I would prefer that to having to share an organised group meal with the people I work with fergoodnessake!

  6. Father Sez » Archive » Round Up for week ending 15th May 08 Says:

    […] asks “Do I have to pay to appreciate them?” Referring to a problem faced by many parents with young school going children – notes from the […]

  7. kxqmate Says:

    Kudos to you! You have well stated my unstated thoughts.
    I don’t show my appreciation to family members to that extent. But now you have me wondering what the recipe is to your World Famous Banana Bread.

  8. BeThisWay Says:

    @kxqmate – I’d’ tell you, but then I’d have to kill you. I’d hate to have to do that any of my wonderful readers…

    I may post it someday. 🙂

  9. Paula Cho Says:

    I love banana bread too! I make mine w/yogurt!

    I empathize with everyone’s comments about giving/not giving. Having been on both sides of the Teacher Gift Debacle – I decided there had to be a better way to make it work – easily. Hence – from: Everyone (I know, I’m ‘pitching’, but hear me out!). is a solution-based website created out of need – mine! from: Everyone let’s one person “organize” the group gift, invite others to participate, make a contribution ($5 minimum) securely and confidentially, then let the website do the rest. We send the emails, we collect the contributions, and we send a beautifully packaged gift card (dozens of national merchants) on the date you choose. Hassle-free, easy to use, online, any time. I know it’s not Banana Bread, but it will conserve your time so you’ll be free to bake! Thanks for ‘listening’, I hope you give us a peek! Respectfully, Paula Cho – Founder.

  10. BeThisWay Says:

    @Paula Cho-

    Thanks for your comment.

    While yours may be a good idea for those who want to give group gifts, it depersonalizes the gift giving process even more. And to me that is not a good thing.

    Not a good thing at all.

  11. Carnival of Family Life: Mother’s Day Edition | Colloquium Says:

    […] presents Do I Have to Pay to Appreciate Them? posted at Are You Going To Be This Way The Rest of The Time I Know […]

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