Please don't give me soaps

16th December 2005 at 00:00
My nephew has written his letter to Santa. He tells me I had better hurry and get mine up the chimney. He has also been to Carols' Discount Warehouse and bought teacher's present. A purple teddy for her desk.

She is going to be thrilled. Can't you just see her face?

Christmas-gift receiving is one of those teacher moments no amount of training prepares you for. The mercenary science department has a barchart up in the workroom illustrating who has received how many bottles.

Mind you, the gold star tinsel is also up from last year as we have not had the time to take it down. Still, it means we are festively early this year.

At a local craft fair I spot homemade fruit cakes for sale with a sign proclaiming "ideal gifts for domestic staff, chauffeurs' wives and teachers". Third place behind the wife of the driver. My, how the mighty have fallen.

My most unusual gift ever has to be the orange roadside lantern Liam gave me. He plonked it down on the desk, albeit with a gift tag and tinsel on.

Or could it be the a metre-long multi-coloured papier-mache caterpillar? My own fault for telling pupils not to spend money but to make me something.

As I gasped in feigned delight I was admonished by Elizabeth for not realising it was, in fact, Macbeth's pet dog and not a caterpillar.

Macbeth's pet dog? Never open any gift in front of the giver, just in case.

"My mom said do you drink a lot Miss?" I wonder if my pre-Christmas exhaustion and mania are manifesting themselves in addictive ways. Alcohol always welcome, unlike soap and candles. Please, no more.

What do I want? Anything small in a pale-blue Tiffany, white be-ribboned box, I tell the class. A week later Robert bounds over and places a gift in my palm, beaming profusely.

"Got it Miss, got your present."

And there it is, a pale-blue velvet pouch. I gasp, is it really? Yes - inside is a tiny, ring-sized box, pale blue and emblazoned with the immortal word.

I sit down, sweating, and lift the lid. Inside I unfold a scrap of paper with the word "something" typed on it.

Robert is beside himself with laughter. I too laugh - at my greed and his skill.

This Christmas be careful what you wish for, because it might just come true.

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