I love Christmas. I love going home in the days leading up to Christmas. I love seeing the house I grew up in decorated to the high hilt in all things glittery and festive. I love going to the pub on Christmas Eve and seeing people who now live all over the world, who you haven’t seen since the previous years annual ritual and wont see again for another year. I love putting on my festive jumper and getting the family together for one of the rare occasions we are all together for the day. I love waking up on Christmas day and not caring. I love not caring if we will get a seat in church, how late dinner is, how much red wine I knock back or whether or not my presents will again consist of socks and a ‘teaching coat’. What I hate is when Christmas begins in October!
It was with a sickening churning of the stomach that I saw Christmas adverts begin to appear on television before we even had Halloween out of the way! The great commercialisation of Christmas is enough to drive the best of us potty, but in school they serve as a sickening reminder as we know we have much more to worry about just around the corner. There are the Christmas performances, the choir concerts, the school fairs, the pantomimes and cinema trips, the charity days and much more; not forgetting the end of term scores with evidence of progression for 99.9% of the pupils. The pressure to provide results does not diminish amidst the expectation of endless hours devotion to the schools provision of all things Christmas. It is enough to take an inch from your hairline, and yet I love the two or three weeks that lie ahead of us now like no other in the year.
The truth is I have been rather like the Grinch up until now. The mere mention of Christmas has sent shivers down my spine for I happen to believe that if we allow Christmas to enter too early, the magic is lost all too soon. However with the Christmas Fair, the switching on of the Christmas lights, the putting up of a Christmas tree, the visits to the Christmas markets, the donning of the festive cardigans and the imminent arrival of the Christmas dinner in school, the Christmas performances, the Christmas night out and the fact that we only have 9 more school days left, I suppose it is time to let it in.
While we, as practitioners, deal with the day to day burden of achieving the impossible and struggling to meet targets that have been grabbed from the sky, Christmas can be a great nuisance. Yet the next few weeks will create the memories that our pupils will recall in years to come. It is what we do over the next 9 days, often with little academic purpose, that most pupils will build their adult conception of school life around. With the pressure to push forward these days, pupils are often given less and less time to be kids. So forgive me if I make a minor admission here, but my classroom isn’t going to be one that OFSTED may approve of over the next few days as English, Maths and Science take a back seat, but my kids and I are going to have a festive period to remember. They (and I) deserve it.