I find Christmas presents difficult at the best of times. I am ok when it comes to my husband, family and close friends but when it comes to anyone else, I struggle.
And this year, I have a new group to buy presents for – the creche workers who mind my daughter every day while I am at work.
What on earth do buy for somebody who is so incredibly important, so intrinsic to the functioning of your life, so central to the happiness and wellbeing of the person who is most important to you in the world? Someone your child spends most of their waking hours with, but you see only for a few minutes twice a day.
Is there a protocol? Should it be a tip or should it be a thoughtful token as you would buy for a family member? How much should you spend? What are the rules?
“I generally give a big box of sweets” said one friend. “I am never sure about the present thing, any time I do give gifts I feel a bit weird. I always wonder if it is the done thing.”
“I am never sure even now, three years on. I usually give one present to the main minders – usually beauty related” said another, “and then something to share between everyone else, like a big box of sweets.”
“I never gave anything” said a friend of mine whose child is now in school. “Was I supposed to? Oh God that’s one more thing to worry about!”
“Soapy, bathy stuff” said a male colleague.
And then I remembered that I had the perfect person to ask – an old pal who used to work in childcare. “For me, I loved getting a voucher or chocolates” she told me. “Or a really nice hand cream.”
Taking all the advice into account, I bought some gifts, and delivered them on the day that the creche threw a party for my daughter’s first birthday.
It was a great party, with a cake, and a birthday hat. My husband and I sat on tiny chairs and all the staff came and sang happy birthday. We got a book of all her little drawings during the year, a Christmas card stamped with her feet and a Christmas decoration with her little face on it. It was lovely to see her in her so at home in this, her little world.
There is no Christmas present we could buy that could even come close to expressing our appreciation, our thanks to these wonderful ladies who look after our daughter so well. We can only but try.
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