More Precious than Crayons

Dec 21, 2013 | Art, Spirit of Adventure, Stuff I Believe

SnowmanWhy is it that the humblest gifts always conjure the most priceless magic? My 20-something stepsister teaches at an inner-city school in L.A., so since I was limited on funds this Christmas, instead of sending her a personal gift, I sent a few basic school supplies. I had visited her third grade class last year, and I’ve led programs in underfunded urban classrooms over the years, so I’ve seen first-hand that low-income students rarely have sufficient supplies. Teachers often scrape money from meager salaries to provide some of what poor districts cannot.

I didn’t send much. Just some pencils, crayons, and drawing paper. But this week I received two texts from my sister. The first one simply made me smile:

Thank you so much for thinking of us! They all made beautiful cards for friends and family today.

It was her second text, and the accompanying photo, that brought tears to my eyes:

This is _______, her dad went to jail last week and she was able to create a card to give to him today with your paper and crayons 🙂

At that moment, I wished I’d sent more. Surely I hadn’t earned the disproportionate joy the photo gave me—their gift to me. I’m sharing this moment with you not because it is great, but because it is small: a reminder of how the simplest things we do for others multiply in ways we may never understand. I hope that after the holidays are over, you’ll find an opportunity to do something small for someone who gives greatly every day—maybe a teacher.

Long after the paper is gone, my sister will still be sharing mind, heart, and soul with her students every day, for little financial reward. The reply I texted to her could easily apply to many teachers I’ve known:

…I hope you know you’re a blessing to those kids every day.

Next chance I get, I must send a gift just for her, so she’ll know that to me she is more precious than crayons.

About Cara

Cara Lopez LeeCara Lopez Lee is the author of They Only Eat Their Husbands. She’s a winner of The Moth StorySLAM and performs in many storytelling shows, including Unheard L.A., and Strong Words. Her writing appears in such publications as Los Angeles Times, Manifest-Station, and Writing for Peace. She’s a traveler, swing dancer, and baker of pies. Cara and her husband live in the beach-town of Ventura, California, where they enjoy tending their Certified Wildlife Habitat full of birds.
Cara Lopez Lee

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