The votes are in, and what teachers really want for the holidays from the parents of their students is really quite simple. If you feel moved to spend money, a whopping 71 percent said a gift certificate is best. Warwick teachers particularly like the option offered by downtown merchants of a certificate that can be used in most of the village businesses. But you don’t need to dig into a treasury already depleted by the endless demands of the season; many teachers said that a hand-written note saying how much their efforts are appreciated is better than even the most exquisite imitation marble #1 Teacher statue. The online survey drew 93 responses, with most coming from Orange County, N.Y., and Sussex County, N.J., and others from Pike County, PA., Passaic County, N.J., and even Bergen County, N.J. Thirty-eight respondents took the time to contribute a personal story about a memorable holiday gift. We are reproducing some here. I love to get a letter from a student that is heartfelt and appreciative. Last year my students put together a scrap book with one page for each student with a personal letter from each one. It was one of the best presents I ever received. Received a mug from Ireland with my families crest and name on it, IT is in our China cabinet now. Very thoughtful I received a Christmas ornament from a student who I had to discipline many times for inappropriate behavior. It was her way of apologizing. I have decorated my tree with this every year. I substitute teach K-5 and I also teach religious ed for 2nd grade. The children make little gifts for me all the time as well as draw pictures and write adoring notes (all of which I keep). I’m thankful for the gifts I get but I would prefer that the parents donate the money to a charity like the Cancer Society or Diabetes Foundation. A simple thank you note is always appreciated. I received a gift certificate to the WMAA Art Gallery. I bought a lovely handmade vase (and a pair of earrings for my mother). I placed the vase on my desk, and as it turned out, it was made by the mother of another one of my students! West Milford is a great town. If you were thinking of buying a coffee mug that says “World’s Greatest Teacher” on it, stop right now. Your child’s teacher already has a cupboard full of them. If she’s been at it for 20 years, make that three or four cupboards. And she’d like you to know as gently as possible - because no teacher worth her lesson plans wants to hurt the feelings of a young and impressionable child or the older and taxpaying parent of that child - that she can very nicely make it through the rest of her days if she never gets another. The same thing goes for those statues of teachers. One may be cute. Forty are clutter. Teachers also tell us that they don’t like, as one put it, “Dollar store items.” In other words, junk. It’s not that teachers are greedy or avaricious. It’s just that, believe it or not, they’re pretty much like everybody else, except with more patience. If a gift is something you wouldn’t want, a teacher probably doesn’t want it, either. An Unforgettable Gift I had a student who came from a single-parent home. Mom was doing her best just to make ends meet. At Christmas, the child presented me with a present she had obviously wrapped herself in newspaper. I wasn’t sure what to say when I opened it to find a partially used jar of tempera paint. The child smiled at me and said, “It’s paint! I know how much you like the color red!” Even though that was over ten years ago, I still have that jar of paint. I smile every time I see it. Funny Gifts I received a box of chocolate from a child and the thank-you note was from the entire family. That afternoon around lunch time, the mother of the student who gave me the candy came in to speak with me. I opened the candy and offered her a piece. When she took a bite of the candy, she had this mortified look on her face. I asked her what was a matter, and she excused herself and walked out the door with the box of candy in her hand. She came back an hour later and handed me a wrapped gift box with a Looney Tunes tie in it and then admitted to me that the candy in the box was rotten! We then had a good laugh. I’ve gotten some pretty weird gifts throughout my years of teaching, but this one takes the cake: One holiday I actually received underwear! Yup - three pairs of panties. Talk about a personal gift! Not-so-Great Gifts I’m Jewish and my students all know it. Why do I receive three or four tree ornaments every year?! One year I had a student whose parents owned a local restaurant. When I received an envelope from the student before Christmas vacation I got excited thinking I might be getting a gift certificate for the restaurant. Imagine how surprised I was to find out that inside the card was an ad for the restaurant and not a gift certificate! The best was the year I received a broken mug and the $1.99 frame (price left on to impress me) from Ames which had been out of business for how long now?