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Anyone besides me go to a school where roses were delivered on Valentine’s Day as a class fundraiser? Typically, one class or organization would arrange to sell roses with notes to be delivered to other students in class. They could be signed or anonymous, and the whole thing was supposed to be a wholesome, fun way to raise money.

I hated it. Hated it with everything I had. Because wholesomeness aside, the class Valentine gram was also a way to attach a physical measurement to one’s popularity—or lack thereof—with the opposite sex. And really, did I need the damn Valentine grams to remind myself that the boys weren’t tripping over themselves to ask me out? No, no I did not. And did the beautiful people need heaping armfuls of roses to remind everyone else of their superior social rank? No, they did not either. And I was one of the lucky ones. I at least had a couple of girl friends, a few close male friends, and a boyfriend my last two years to send me roses. There were always those who got no roses at all. Even in my adolescent selfishness I knew that those kids had it worse off.

However much money the Valentine grams raised, they were extremely costly in terms of hurt feelings. But at least I was in high school and, having survived middle school, had the wherewithal to deal with it.

Now the 3rd graders at Brandeis are selling pumpkin or ghost grams to be delivered in class. These are suckers with cute little pumpkin or ghost cards attached to them that the 3rd graders are making and delivering as a fund-raiser. It is such a cute idea, and yet I am very wary of it. We can send to our bus-stop friends, to Simon’s soccer friend in another kindergarten class, to Leah in 1st grade, and to cousin Ben in 4th grade. That’s easy enough.

But what about friends in his class? I had thought about sending to what seem to be his three best friends: James C. James M., and Menelik. But what about Shaina, Bobbie, and Taliyah, the girls I sometimes hear about? Or Iris, whose birthday party he will attend today? Or Emilie, who wrote him out a really sweet birthday card? Or Gus and Blake, who are his fellow pick-up partners in the afternoon?

In other words, what about any other child who might either get Simon a pumpkin gram or feel bad bad about not getting one from him? How awful would I feel knowing that some 5- or 6-year-old went home with hurt feelings on my account? For that matter, how awful would Simon feel? The whole thing has put me right back to high school with a knotted up stomach.

I still haven’t decided how to proceed, but I’m leaning towards an all-or-nothing strategy. As in, either everyone in Simon’s class gets one from him, or no-one does. Simon is figuring out who his best friends are, and I can think of lots of ways to get those friends together and allow the relationships to flourish in a smaller setting. But singling out those children in a public venue with a physical token of affection is not on my list of ideas. I don’t like the idea any more today than I did 25 years ago.


4 Responses to “Cute Things I Loathe: The Class ____-gram”

  1. eveleigh says:

    My school had carnation fundraisers, and I remember the hurt feelings. I also remember talking about how I didn’t want one anyway because I was too cool for all that, and of course it became a self-fulfilling prophecy that left me feeling like a loser at the end of the day when some girls got armfuls of flowers while others went home empty-handed.

    I vote for the all-or-nothing strategy, as long as it isn’t financially prohibitive. Also remember that this is something your son will be doing for the next six years, possibly a few times a year. Or maybe he can give out his own ‘ghost grams’ in the form of a unique lollipop or something? It may not raise the desired funds, but it’ll show that he gave it a little more thought.

  2. tlalbaugh says:

    Ugh, those carnation fundraisers were the WORST in high school. I can’t believe they even allow that sort of thing in elementary school. I have hated ALL school fundraising since I was a kid and our PTA already had one of those awful gift wrap/candy fundraisers this fall that realistically only the parents were responsible for (“Don’t sell to strangers or door to door” say the materials; that means the parents are supposed to sell in their offices or something, which Tom and I will not do–makes us crazy). I already told my family (all out of state) that I will not ask them to buy from us as long as we don’t have to buy from them, and that’s worked so far. For that first fundraiser, we wrote a $30 check to the PTA. That way all the funds go directly to the organization and I didn’t have to ask people to buy a bunch of junk they don’t need. I do buy a Christmas wreath from the Boy Scouts in my neighborhood every year and support bake sales and whatnot, but the fundraiser catalogs/”win great gifts the more you sell” rackets, nope, I cannot abide. Girl Scout cookies are even on my no list these days because the ingredients are so horrendous. Yes, I’m very crabby about this issue!

  3. blg says:

    The difference between the gift wrap fundraiser and the candy-gram is the added wrinkle of it turning into a popularity contest. For the gift wrap fundraiser, I, too, write a check directly to the school or PTA…who really wants their crate of dried out oranges (my godson sold these four years in a row). But the popularity contest sort of fundraising is a tough one. If you can afford it, I guess you should buy one for everyone in Simon’s class. And then get to work to help the school find less painful ways to raise money.
    PS – I wonder if the teachers of that third grade class take a moment to look at the list of recipients and find a way to balance things out?

  4. Jessica says:

    Thanks for weighing in, ladies. I’m going with my gut and am ordering 26 pumpkin and ghost grams from school today. The teacher said it wasn’t necessary, but I’ll feel better knowing that every kid will go home with at least one.

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