Well, it’s that time of year again. The Christmas adverts which have been up since September, like a clock that’s stopped and momentarily has its time twice a day to be bang on cue, are finally relevant; we’ve been badgered to buy cards for anyone we’ve ever met, and kept a few spare in case someone buys us one late on; and, of course, it’s time for Christmas in schools.
See, SENSIBLE schools will keep the Christmas kerfuffle to a happy minimum. Too many DVDs put on by the teacher who’s lost all energy and is battling the ‘flu with 3 weeks left of term will lead to anarchy, boredom or both – especially hazardous to the poor soul who has to give them an end-of-term assessment the lesson afterwards.
Then, in younger age groups, there is still the nativity. A time for tea towels to be laundered, a time for Asda to clean up with ready-made outfits with parents whose kids have only told them they’re playing Camel 4 at 8pm that evening and the performance is tomorrow at 9am.
Most of us have been to a little school nativity. Worth watching in many ways. There’s the kid who has a main part because their pushy parent means the school give it to them as it’s not worth the hassle not to, despite the fact they’ll spend a good portion posing as their mum videos JUST THEM in the performance, rather than the whole nativity. I have seen it happen.
There are the kids who will be fiddling with their halos, sheep ears, tea towels and cords on their dressing gowns. There are the kids who will mime like goldfish at feeding time, as they’ve been too busy watching the ants’ nest by the hall doorway during rehearsals to have any idea of when the songs start or end or what the words are in between.
There is the nervous look on the teachers involved. Will little Chanelle try and push Jemima off the stage again for daring to edge in front of her (Chanelle thinks she has star quality as her mum dresses her in leopard print)? Will Rupert manage not to prod, poke, punch or otherwise assault anyone for a full half hour? Will Joe manage to not be eye-wateringly flatulent until the doors open for people to leave?
Mercifully, there are also those who hold it together. The troupers who know their lines, know their cues, know the words to the songs and can carry a tune in a bucket. If you’re lucky, there’ll be a child who can truly bring a tear to the eye in a solo of Silent Night. That, for me, is when I start to feel Christmassy. Those first beautiful notes soaring up, and a silence of the audience as they all realise this is what it’s all about. Christmas. Children. The scene around the manger. Suddenly, for those few moments until the end of the song, nothing else matters very much.
For those of you who have more than one child, you will have sat through endless traditions your school will have, endless routines, the same speeches and flat jokes (my former boss was so wooden you’d get splinters if you shook her hand, dull as a bag of doorknobs). It can be a test of endurance, yet we will all persevere. We will all get through to the holidays. A time for the tea towels to be taken home and returned to their original use. A time to either enjoy or endure family, depending on your circumstances.
A time for me to reflect on how lucky I have been to have my truly amazing class this year. They are brilliant. Not just for me, but wherever I send them around the school. They are brilliant. Happy times indeed. A very merry Christmas to every one of them and, dear reader, to you.