Slice of Life: Packages of Lessons, Hope, and Heart

This post contains the stories of two packages filled with lessons, hope, and heart.

Package One

Christmas Eve, I pull into my driveway and spot a box on the doorstep.

“Hmm, I bet that’s the book I ordered,” I say aloud.

My husband gives me a look that says, well, you can imagine. I buy a lot of books. And I add, “…for Andy.”

Once inside, I rip the box open. Packing peanuts. I dig and pull. I find a package wrapped in hand-painted tissue paper. My kid-brain excitement still doesn’t connect the dots until I see it.


And the stories come flooding back.

Her art class. The tissue paper classes. This painting holds stories alongside its intrinsic beauty. Stories and lessons my dear friend Margaret Simon has shared.

The sunflowers grace my living room; holding stories and inspiration that ask me to reach out of what I am right now to what I could be. What a gift it is to have a teacher as a friend.


IMG_3021Digging deeper, I find BOOKED and NCTE memories.

I was standing in a long line to get
Kwame’s autograph and book.  I set aside the possibility of getting to the 4:30 session.  I had committed to this line.

Margaret walks up, “You’re gonna miss your session. Go! I’ll stay.”  I’m not sure what I said, but it felt like my mother had come to rescue me.

In the crazy of NCTE, I forgot the book. Margaret shipped BOOKED to New Iberia.  Now here it was in a Christmas package!

This book holds so much. More than the story or the autograph inside. It holds immeasurable friendship.

Package Two

The day after Christmas, another package arrives.

My thoughts go to that book that still hasn’t arrived.

In the dining room, my mystery package contains this and letters of thanks from students at Pine Point Elementary.  Thank yous for the books.


The story of this school found me quite accidentally through Voxer connections.

Kathryn Hoffman-Thompson is a sixth-grade teacher at Pine Point Elementary School located on a reservation in Minnesota. Over the summer she shared her school and her son’s 4H project, building a little library at the school for families who had limited access to books.

The library was built and installed. No small feat for a middle schooler. Now for books.

I reached out to my school community and received nearly 100 pounds in beautiful books that students and parents brought from home. I brought a suitcase to NCTE and shipped a few packages. But it didn’t end there.

Donna Donner’s fifth grade class in Long Island, New York sent a truckload of books.  IMG_3012

Talk about Christmas miracles.  As Donna so eloquently said, “Given the opportunity, children can make anything happen. Place books in front of them and they will read. Place a need in front of them and they will find a way to help. In times when our world feels scary, it is most important to take the time to zoom in on the good, and perpetuate that publicly. I have faith in our leaders of tomorrow.”

These stories, these gifts, fill me up. Stories of passion for books, of creativity and most importantly, kindness.

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers Blog for Tuesday Slice of Life. It is a joy to share with this vibrant community. Read more slices here.


18 thoughts on “Slice of Life: Packages of Lessons, Hope, and Heart

  1. I love this post, and not just because I am featured, but also because of your lovely dream catcher and the results of the book drive. Wow! What an awesome gift for those kids. I remember the hardship that went with the book transfer and how I worried about you letting that suitcase go. What I didn’t tune in was the goodness and love of your gesture.
    I am so proud to be your special friend in Louisiana. Not everyone would appreciate my little gift of art as much as you do. I knew when I sent it that I was sending love with it. I love you! Have a Happy New Year!

  2. I enjoyed reading about your two special Christmas packages! What wonderful stories were wrapped in Christmas paper and delivered to your door. I’m so glad you shared them with us.

  3. Goosebumps run up and down my body as I read your slice. Connections made possible because of the advancements in technology. Truly special gifts!

  4. Love hearing the stories, and the kindnesses of so many, Margaret included, then those who “heard” you ask and delivered such beautiful gifts of books. And I enjoyed the way you crafted this post, Julieanne. Well done. However, did you ever get that “other” book?

  5. You truly have good things happen because you give so well! Thanks for sharing your present story! Happy New Year. I hope we cross paths in 2016!!

  6. I love this post and how the threads of generosity, kindness, literacy, and friendship interweave! Merry Christmas Julieanne and thanks for being such an inspiring presence!

  7. What beautiful gifts and stories! I am always in awe of Margaret and her creative abilities…and yes, I do mean that in the plural form. What great friendships made through connectedness!

  8. Wow. These two gifts are amazing. You are so right, they are so much more than objects in a package. Wishing you a wonderful New Year’s Eve!

  9. I just read your post about the two gift boxes from my vacation in Germany! I am very touched by the stories and the genuine spirit of giving that inspired them. We have been receiving gifts and giving them throughout our stay here with friends and relatives; it has been an absolute joy to receive and give so much love. I am sure you feel the same way. I love that dreamcatcher!!

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