Memorable Christmases

19th December 2003 at 00:00
Every day is Christmas day at East Ravendale Church of England primary.

Jan Christmas, reception teacher at the North-east Lincolnshire school, often finds that, like her seasonal namesake, her arrival is greeted with excitement among the four and five-year-olds in her class.

"The children tend to think I'm connected to Christmas, or that I'm married to Father Christmas," the 51-year-old said.

"When I do home visits, the children can't wait to see me. They think I'll turn up in a red coat."

While Mrs Christmas attempts to clarify her relationship to Father Christmas for pupils ("there are two boys called Harry here, but that doesn't mean they're related"), her husband fends off jokes from 14-year-old boys.

Nigel Christmas, 51, married to Jan for 30 years, is an RE teacher at nearby Toll Bar specialist business school. "Pupils say to me, if you were a priest, you'd be Father Christmas," he said. "One student asked me if I had a cat and when I said yes, he asked if it was called Santa Claws."

Pupils have greeted his arrival in the classroom with a chorus of "So here he is, Mr Christmas", to the tune of Slade's 1973 Christmas number one, Merry Xmas Everybody. But the couple deny that they have grown into their names with age.

Mrs Christmas is a long way from the rotund, grey-haired Mrs Christmas in the picture book she reads to her class. And, while Mr Christmas sports a beard and has crafted homemade toys for his three sons, he says he is far from the universal father figure the name suggests. But he does find the name an advantage: "I like having a name that's memorable. There's never that embarrassing moment when a former pupil says, 'I remember you teaching me, but I can't remember your name'."

Mrs Christmas, however, is not entirely convinced: "Whenever you sign your name, people make a joke or a comment. You can't be anonymous. Sometimes I wish I was called Smith."

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