At this magical time of the year - a two-week respite from the trials of the classroom - four of our columnists reflect on the true meaning of Christmas
"Don't smile 'til Christmas!" as the behaviour consultant said to the NQT.
Hurrah! At last we can forego chill severities for seasonal frolics. The school becomes a kinder and more gentle place. There's merry missives from the management and level 3 cards from the tots.
"Mery Crissmas sir!" scrawls Aisha "your my favorite teacher 'cos you trie so hard."
Who cares about targets when we can watch Decibelle as mother Mary murdering "Silent night".
The neighbourhood's even better. I walk down Portobello and see my pupils flogging things in the magic Christmas lights.
There's Cordelia on the corner selling hot toddies. I buy some mulled absinthe and wander pleasantly on. There's Anthony "Big Ant" Furnace outside the Salvation Army. He waves an axe at Norwegian Christmas trees.
"Blue spruces! Norman spruces!" I order a blue one. "No needles - trust me, sir!"
I wander to All Saints church. Hoodies trill carols in the chill night air.
Who is this hoodlum's gleeclub? The Dillywig twins! They sound like the Everly Brothers. The choristers of King's are not as sweet.
Sabrina moves amongst us and collects for charity!
"Which charity?" "Slow learners, sir!" "Ah yes." "And the poor!" "Which poor?" "Us poor".
I spot Santa's Merry Grotto. My more illustrious hooligans on work experience! Attila Dervish, Dave Mania and Toby Lunk. The three wise hoodies?
They used to bunk like monks down back alleys and now they're merely merry Santas. It warms the cockles. They merrily flog walnuts, satsumas, snow shakers, bubbles, berries, baubles, grandmas and myrrh.
I purchase a bottle of myrrh, pound;4.99p. "Top stuff, sir." There's mistletoe and condoms.
"Never know sir - one thing might lead to another!" That sex ed module seems to be working. There's DVDs. King Kong A bit quick! What's this? The Ashes Three Disc Box Set - about 10 hours. Perfect!
"Tenner to the punters. Yours for a fiver, sir!" I snap it up. "Have a good one, sir!" "You too!"
I feel moist-eyed and rather smug. I have such excellent rapport with the more disenchanted urban youth. I zoom home to watch the cricket. All that schoolwork can go hang. These are the only tests I'll be looking at this Christmas.
I sink into the sofa. I pour the mulled absinthe. I press the remote and prepare to relive that timeless burnished summer ..... the screen is full of snow blizzards. A seasonal touch? Then it's full of nothing. For about 10 hours! I have bought a blank. I have been fleeced. Those wise men are wise guys. And Father Christmas is just another hoodie.
I blaspheme. I hate this time of year. Tawdry! Meretricious! Good cheer? Forget it. I won't smile 'til those three wise men are in detention. And I bet that myrrh's off!