What’s the Best or Weirdest Gift You Have Ever Received?

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Jerry Citron (Science Teacher)

“The best gift I've ever gotten was a really high class terrain bike. It's a bike that allows you to ride long distances, and you use it to travel long distances. It was a long time ago. I think maybe my mother bought it for me.”

Carlos Bravo (Spanish Teacher)

“When I was about eight years old, my grandmother gave me a baked potato wrapped in tinfoil. I cried for two hours.”

Kristyn Pluchino (Chemistry Teacher)

“The weirdest gift I got from a student is makeup. I don't really wear much makeup, but they got me foundation. I've gotten a lot of other terrible gifts. In the ‘80s, my mom got me a little business suit, and I was a child with a blazer and gigantic shoulder pads.”

Jason Econome (Biology Teacher)

“The best gift for me would have to be the birth of my son, a month before Christmas. George was eight pounds and quite beautiful. It was a great way to bring in the Christmas holiday. and it couldn’t be any better than that. The worst gift is probably clothing. I was a hyperactive kid; all I had on my mind was sports and music. I was actually thinking I was going to get a bicycle; I just needed one badly. Instead I got clothing: a pair of pants and a couple of shirts; what a disappointment!"

Charles Kuang (Computer Science Teacher)

“The weirdest gift I ever received was from this student I taught in middle school, but also teach now. She gave me a dictionary because I misspelled the word ‘class’ on the board like one time.”

Marianne Prabhu (Biology Teacher)

“That's tough, because for the most part, people are pretty good gift-givers. My mom is an excellent gift-giver; she's always so thoughtful. But I would have to say, one of the worst gifts was that a guy I was dating got me a gift card to a teacher's store. I was like, 'This isn't something fun; that isn't a personal gift!'"

Ernest Oliveri (Assistant Principal of the World Languages Department)

“I think I got a weird kitchen utensil once. It was one of those multi-tool kitchen utensils that don't work very well. I've also given some pretty weird gifts; I gave my wife a weed-whacker—not the kind of gift you give a woman. When we bought a house, I couldn't touch the lawn mower—she wouldn't let me go near it. I thought to myself, ‘She has discovered her inner gardener; I'm going to get her something that she can use in the garden.’ So I got her a weed-whacker. To this day, she has not touched that weed-whacker. And she did not talk to me for about three days.”

Katherine Kincaid (English Teacher)

“The best gift that I've ever received was when I had first met my husband, we had first started dating, so he did my birthday gifts as a scavenger hunt. He hid the presents all over my apartment, and each present had a clue to finding the next present, and they got slowly better. They were all different things that I wanted, like a book or a nice shirt, and some of them were more sentimental things. The present that I liked the most was a little card that said he would take me out shopping to buy whatever outfit of my choice in whatever store I wanted.”

Madeline Horan (English Teacher)

“I'd say the weirdest holiday gift came from my grandmother, a devout Catholic who went to mass every day, which showed in her Christmas presents—usually holy cards, rosary beads, and prayer books. When I was thirteen, she gave me a statue of the Virgin Mary wrapped up in newspaper. I unraveled it to find a painted face smiling at me, but then I lost sight of the eyes as the head rolled out of the newspaper. She told me, ‘I dropped it in the St. Scholastica parking lot.’ I wasn't sure whether we should put it on the mantle.”

Eric Ferencz (English Teacher)

"As a Jewish child in a Christian country, I came to learn Hanukkah exists amidst the deeply-cast shadow of Christmas. It's a completely unfair comparison. Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Christ, a seminal holiday. Hanukkah is a minor Jewish holiday; a celebration of a successful Maccabean revolution, an event that cannot be found in the pages of the Old Testament. Hanukkah is not our Christmas. Considering this disparity, Hanukkah's proximity to Christmas on the calendar, and the gross commercialization of holiday gift-giving, Hanukkah is unfairly presented as the Jewish counterpart of Christmas.

In my family, Hanukkah was a progressive holiday: over the course of eight days, the gifts became progressively worse. The first night was always reserved for the best presents; a copy of Contra for the NES [Nintendo Entertainment System], or a new CD player. But as the seventh or eighth night rolled around, and parental creativity waned, gifts became more utilitarian as I'd received objects that I simply expected my parents to purchase for me. One could imagine the disappointed look on an eight-year-old tearing eagerly through decorative wrapping paper only to discover tube socks? Pencils? A new toothbrush? And as Jewish holidays begin when the sun sets, the anticipation of that night's gifts paired with some unrealistic daydreaming could only lead to disappointment when unwrapping the gifts of night four or five or six or seven or eight.

I know that I'm speaking of a child of great privilege, but at the time, considering the fortunes I perceived my peers had bestowed upon them, I somehow felt jilted."

Liliya Shamazov (Music Teacher)

“Mrs. Hall and I got a card picture of both of us. The kids went out to Central Park where people paint you, but in a caricature style. They had this guy paint us based on our photographs, and they brought it in, and it was really adorable and funny.”

Lee Brando (Social Studies Teacher)

“The best gift that I've ever received is not anything material. It would be having my family members around: the people that I love, the people that are close to me. I'm thankful for the birth of all my nieces and my nephew, that my family is healthy, and my friends are healthy as well. And for my health. And also my students. That's the best gift I can think of; everything else is ephemeral. We do have lives, but in terms of total fulfillment, it's people.”

Rebecca Lindemulder (French and German Teacher)

“The best gift I got was an iPhone a couple years ago, but it had hidden motives because my parents wanted me to stay in contact with them when I was away from them.”

Maria Nedwidek-Moore (Biology Teacher)

“I still have most gifts and cards I have ever received in my life, and Christmas is far and away my favorite holiday. Gift-giving is a precious thing, and I never want to forget when I am privileged to receive a gift from someone. I first thought of a Christmas gift from my parents that changed the way I think about the world. It was a small toy microscope, which I still have, and I was mesmerized, eventually pursuing biology as a career.

My father often took me to Tiffany's to look at the engagement rings when I got older. Eventually, I met my husband. Six months after the day I met him at my 25th Stuy reunion, he proposed. We went the next day for the ring, walking across Central Park to Tiffany's in the spring rain. I was excited to find something practical and pretty, and just what we could afford. We were married in August of 2014. That ring definitely qualifies as the best gift: something I wished for all my life, from the man I wished for all my life.”