Pure magic is here in school
I've peaked early again, but this year I'm wiser. I refuse to be caught up in the commercial frenzy and marketing bonanza. The Christmas rush gets to us all and I know I'm not alone. In the playground, as pupils line up and parents stand around chatting, there is a sense of increasing panic and strain.
Dozens of conversations follow the same pattern.
"Done your shopping yet?"
"Yes, I started it in October as December is always so busy, it becomes a nightmare?"
"I know, time flies this time of year, I haven't even started mine yet, it's no fun just stress."
It does go quickly, but last year a significant change occurred as far as I was concerned. For the children, Christmas Day and the delivery of the long-awaited presents from Santa remains the raison d'etre, but personally December 25 no longer does it for me.
Yes, it is lovely to share a nice meal with family, and the enforced inactivity is very welcome.
It hit home that Christmas in school is what it is all about. Whenever I walk into school I savour the environment created by children whose innocence, natural optimism and energy is a wonderful antidote to the cynicism of our adult world. During December it is wonderful.
I realise this term must be especially tough for teachers - warding off all those winter germs, rehearsing constantly for concerts and plays on top of the usual workload, plus trying to organise their own family's festivities.
But the Christmas spirit in school is special, it doesn't exist like that anywhere else, certainly not in the corporate world. By the time term ended, I didn't need the actual day.
My change in attitude was confirmed on Christmas Eve, when asked by the master chef of the household what vegetables I had bought for the following day. I knew we had carrots, a bag of frozen broccoli and four jacket potatoes. A hasty visit to the corner shop for a bag of sprouts, and an even later trip after church for alternative potatoes, averted disaster and confirmed my lack of interest.
The problem was I had already had Christmas. Well, the true spirit of it anyway. And that true spirit was watching the concentration and delight on my child's face as a church full of mums, dads, brothers and sisters listened with pride to the carols they had worked so hard to perfect.
It was the Christingle service, where the story of the true reason for celebrating was told, with the infant nativity play, which both humbled and filled me with pure joy. All the money in the world cannot buy this.
The whole point of all this sentimental rambling is to say thank you.
Thank you to all the teachers and staff who create magic at Christmas time, not just for the children, but for us parents too.