The first window of the advent calendar has barely been opened and I’m already feeling that my festive spirit is somewhat jaded.
You see, from mid November it starts. At first it just looks like anticipation of lots of fun-packed seasonal spectaculars – parties, pantos and the like.
However, a couple of weeks in, and sparkle is well and truly off the tinsel.
For starters it all seems like an exercise in emptying my purse. Normally I don’t mind parting with a few quid for the benefit of school as I know how pressed education budgets area.
But lately there were books to buy at parents night – the kids were given tick lists to fill in and present eagerly to their parents with many ‘books’ actually being toys at more than twenty quid. There have been fayres in gym halls with table after table of overpriced costume jewellery and gourmet hand-made kitchen dust traps. There are forms to be filled in and money handed over – separate envelopes please – for celebration shows, turkey dinners, hand-made mugs, photos and special school trips.
This is annoying and expensive if it were only extra-curricular, but my children are already reporting upheaval from the business of learning for the business of Christmas. That’ll be my children who notionally attend non denominational schools.
So in class time, they have been making things to sell (see above), learning to dance, decorating things, preparing celebration shows (see above also).
It’s bad enough that they are distracted and bewitched be the cynical commercials everywhere they turn, but school, usually a haven of common sense and routine, has become crazed by over consumption of mince pies too.
And don’t get me started on the utter lunacy that is the Christmas card fiasco. As far as I can see every child must give nearly every other child a Christmas card – bought by their parents – and another lot of children will deliver them. Some children will leave them in their bags until they are found at the start of the January term, other children will carry them carefully home, measuring against what classmates received. These children still fret and agonise about who got and who gave, as if they didn’t have enough to worry about.
It’s not that I don’t like Christmas – on and around the 25th of December – and all the celebrations, mulled wine and surprises that go with it. It’s just that the pressure – stress and panic – seem to start earlier and earlier.
Understandably, shops are going to get on Rudolph’s sleigh as soon as they can, they are in it for their hard-earned profit. But schools should have no place in the insanely early, disproportionate nonsense of it all. By all means have a bit of a knees-up in the last week of term, but, for pity’s sake not in November (or even earlier). Let’s get back to some reasonable, affordable and manageable seasonal celebrations and, who knows, we might actually enjoy them better.