Why does everyone else get better presents?

21st December 2007 at 00:00
Everywhere there is the hell of Christmas. Houses lit up like, well, like Christmas trees. What about global warming? There can be no ozone left anywhere above our catchment area. But hey, it's Christmas. Let's party.

Christmas, they say, is a time of pleasure and anticipation. But don't make me laugh.

The exam papers are piled high, you are up against an impossible deadline. There is a sleighful of uncompleted work that won't go away. Oh yes, it is so easy to be Scrooge.

Christmas? Bah Humbug.

But we continue to turn up to carol concerts, services and nativities.

And there is never only one to attend - especially if you have children of your own. You switch from parent to teacher, singing "Hark the herald angels sing" in your sleep.

It all merges into one.

Wrapped in your coat, hands deep in your pocket, your feet chilled by the stone floor of the church, your mind drifts away. But even in this state of semi-consciousness, the real world intrudes, riding shotgun on the back of your favourite Christmas tunes.

"Joyful and triumphant" - that's hardly the staffroom, is it? Why is it that everyone else has more Christmas gifts than you do? I know it is only shower gel, but even so.

"Three wise men?" It certainly doesn't bring the leadership team to mind. They couldn't organise a Christmas carol in a monastery. And as far as "The hopes and fears of all the years" is concerned, that just means there is no early retirement package this year. "Five gold rings?" No way.

The "Poor man gathering winter fuel" is the assistant caretaker, collecting crisp packets again. We both know that as part of his rehabilitation regime he is not allowed to use matches, but in the circumstances we might have to make an exception. After all, "The earth stood hard as iron". The heating system's buggered again.

And that "deep and dreamless sleep" of which the choir sing so movingly? That seems to affect quite a few members of my Year 10 class. And "Proud young virgin?" Who are you trying to kid? Virgin is something they see on a mobile phone. What they are most likely to hear in my classroom is "Come hither Paige and stand by me". You're in detention, doll.

Perhaps it is true. Perhaps "The Christmas we get we deserve". When I reflect upon this I find it a really scary idea. What have I ever done in my life to deserve yet another version of "Feed the world?" I have always tried to be good and honest.

Mind you, it could just be that we are condemned to be teachers to atone for sins committed in a previous life. That's why we have carol concerts.

And it all ends on a really depressing note as you realise that all too soon in January, you will drag yourself back to school to pick up all that work you never finished.

Geoff Brookes is deputy head of Cefn Hengoed Community School in Swansea.

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