We used to have politically incorrect, terribly exclusionary, discriminatory, ethnically and religiously insensitive fun and happy gift exchanges every Christmas between students. Sometimes with Secret Santa type assigned names and sometimes sort of a random distribution or grab bag approach but always with a dollar limit on expense.… One year when we had drawn names things didn’t go well when gifts were distributed and one student ended up without a present, luckily I had a roll of nickels in my desk which although not very personal and above the cost limit, was pretty special in 1972. The student who was supposed to get the missing gift cried and the student who drew her name swore up and down that she had had brought her one. At the time I chose to believe that a gift had been brought, information to the otherwise lacking, which was in retrospect the right decision.
Four years later I found the missing gift under a book case that had not been moved for at least a decade. It might not have been moved because it was very heavy and made of wood and full of books but it remained stationary primarily due to the fact that it had over the years been cemented to the floor by about 80 coats of wax and varnish… It had an open base at the back and somehow the present had managed to get in under the bottom shelf where it lay unseen for 4 years. Anything stuck to, written on the old hard maple floors in old buildings tended to become entombed in wax and varnish over the years like fossil insects in amber. I have seen flies, labels, paperclips gum wrappers and even names apparently written laboriously using a foot with a pencil held between the toes all permanently memorialized in a glistening coat of yellowed varnish and heavy wax. . When the present was found, it was a paper doll set, I delivered it to the now 9th grader and she cried again.