The Gift of Giving

The Gift of Christmas Giving

Exactly one week ago, the entire Bruyns clan sat down to enjoy a meal together. It was the first time in 4 months that all five of us were at the same table. My daughter was home from UBC and our eldest son, who now lives in London, was joining us. The kitchen was filled with lots of laughter and many conversations overlapping each other. As things started to quiet down, I asked the annual question, “So, what would everyone like for Christmas?” Gone are the days of helping to write letters to Santa and with two of our children living on their own, I expected a response of, “Rent money”. But much to our surprise, each of our three children had one thing on their list that they wanted, which meant I would have to brave the crowds and head out for some Christmas shopping.

 Our youngest son has recently taken up snowmobiling, so he wanted a heated helmet. There just happened to be an advertisement on the radio for a sale, so I scooted out to Crazy Al’s. I had never ventured in there before, but I was immediately greeted by a pleasant sales person, who assisted me in choosing the right style and size. I started to browse and found a coat that fit perfectly. I had just finished my husband’s shopping at that point! The second salesperson, noticing that I was also purchasing the helmet, offered me a deal on the coat. I was very thankful and would highly recommend that store to friends.

Our eldest son wanted a pair of Timberland boots. As is the case with most young adults, the brand name means everything. So, on Monday, I decided to brace myself and venture to White Oaks Mall. I should have realized  when it took me three circles of the parking lot to find a spot, that it was going to be a busy day. Busy was an understatement…. After a few hours of purchasing some gifts, I wandered into the Bay and found myself in the shoe department. To my surprise it wasn’t that busy. I was immediately greeted by a friendly salesperson who was very knowledgeable about the boots that I was looking for. She took the time to explain the pros and cons of each style and then successfully found me the right size. While she was waiting for her turn at the till to ring in my sale, she looked over and noticed that the day of shopping had taken its toll on me. She cleared off a chair and invited me to sit down while she finished the sale. That small act of kindness was almost as wonderful as finding the right boots in the right size.

 Now for our daughter… Her initial response to my question filled me with happiness. “I’d like an IPOD Nano”. Ah, now there was a gift that I’d enjoy shopping for. Future Shop, Best Buy… who knows, maybe a little techno trinket for me too. But then came the clincher… “A 5th Generation ~ but they don’t make them anymore”. Yikes… Visions of midnight trips to Zellers to try and win an elusive Furby when Kaitlyn was 10 were swirling in my head. We were two for two and I was determined to find this gift for our daughter. So I contacted a friend who suggested I find one online. The AppleStore did have them and guaranteed delivery in 2-3 days. That would bring us to December 24. Should I chance it? I took the plunge and placed the order.

On the 23rd, we were able to track the FedEx delivery route of the IPOD. I remembered Tom Hanks set out on FedEx plane on Christmas Eve in the movie, “Castaway”. I hoped our IPOD didn’t end up on an exotic island. I was truly impressed with the online tracking system. The IPOD travelled  from China to Tennessee to Mississauga all in one day. So, as of Dec. 23 at 7:30 p.m. it was in Mississauga. On the morning of Dec. 24, I contemplated driving to Mississauga to pick it up, but then I decided to trust in the system and be patient. As of 10:50 a.m on Dec. 24 it was in the depot in London and as of 1:59 p.m. it was safely in my hands. I wish I had a plate of homemade cookies for the FedEx delivery person ~ they would have done that if this was a movie. The level of service that both Apple and FedEx provided was outstanding.

So, as Christmas morning rolled around, each of our three children were thrilled with their gifts and even surprised that I had come through and purchased the “right” gift. They were very thankful and I was so happy to sit there and watch them open and enjoy their gifts.

As I reflect on the last week, one of the things that I was so thankful for was the level of customer service that I received in each of the three scenarios. People took the time to not only sell the product, but assist me in more ways than they would ever know. One store provided a discount, one provided a much needed place to rest and one provided me with a piece of mind.

 We often talk about education in terms of customer service. What is it that we can provide for our students ( our customers). And not unlike the salespeople that I met this week, teachers provide students with what they need at the time. Sometimes our job is to give students as much information as possible ~ we challenge them to get as much as they can out of a lesson or an activity. Sometimes our students need us to take care of them and school can provide a safe, comfortable spot for them to stop and relax before accepting the next challenge. And we always do a great job of tracking our students’ progress. We know where they have come from and where we want them to be.

I hope that your holidays were filled with the wonders of the season and that you found gifts in places where you least expected.

Mrs. S. Bruyns