Friday, May 11, 2001

Happy Mother's Day and Teacher Appreciation Week

If you haven't been aware, through the bombardment of advertising, Mother's Day is this weekend. And Hallmark and many online stores are reaping the rewards of the guilt trip to get something for Mom. While I too, have gotten gifts and am sending them along to my mothers-I have a Mother and a Step-Mother, my complaint with this holiday, and many in general, is that it propels the idea of only giving to the special people in our lives on the designated Hallmark holiday day.

Giving and showing love and appreciation for the important people in our lives should be an ongoing, constant expression. It can come in the way of a phone call, a simple note, a card or a gift from a recent trip. It doesn't have to come all on one or two days of the year. Of course, it's vitally important to show your love and appreciation on those days as well, because some people have a hard time expressing themselves more frequently without a card store to help.

However, many holidays have religious or other origins that weren't about a card or a big gift. So the next time you're on the beach because it's Memorial Day, or you booked a last minute trip because of Veteran's Day-think of the actual significance and perhaps pay a visit to a monument or site that's devoted to the cause.

Now, back to our mother's. I'd also like to take a moment and point out that this week is also Teacher Appreciation Week. This holiday isn't as widely publicized, but is quite important too. Just think for a minute about who your favorite teacher was. Everyone has at least one. Remember how much significance they brought to our life? Or how special they made us feel? Or how important, smart, talented, promising they made us feel. Well, both of my mother's are also teachers and they've affected my life in many, many ways. They've both made me feel special - in class and out - and they're those kind of teachers who care deeply about their students.

My mother is an elementary school art teacher, and this week has been an unfortunate enlightenment as to how our nation treats art teachers. She has been one of those spectacular woman who gives more than she is asked, required or paid for because she cares and she simply could do no less. She'll institute school-wide projects and she'll feature children's art in public library exhibits. She brings art into the world where people wouldn't necessarily find it or think of it. She works in a public school system where Art is seen as a part-time subject, and thus spends half her year at one elementary school, and then the other at a different school. Recently, she was appealing to the school board for the district to change Art to a full-time subject, because of the value it has for children and education. The district denied the appeal and told the board that they had some funds available where they could choose to each get a raise or have the funds go towards a full-time Art program. And this is where the ugly monster of greed came into play when each teacher voted for a salary increase as opposed to the full-time Art class.

Of course we each want to have more money, and perhaps next year the same appeal can be made to the board, but when I see my mother, who's worked so incredibly hard for something, have a set-back like this, I get upset.

I would just like to take this time to tell the world (or at least my patient readers) that in light of all the hassles we face in the world, let's remember what's important in life and show our appreciation to those who matter. A call or a card at any time during the year speaks volumes more than when it comes on the day the card store tells us it should.