I used to love Christmas: the bustle of the busy shops, Christmas carols and mulled wine. I even loved wrapping hundreds of presents and writing all the cards. But 12 years and 12 Decembers teaching five- to seven-year-olds has drained my Christmas spirit.
On 30 November, I decorate my entire classroom with foil tat and tinsel galore. Even the role-play area becomes Santa's sleigh station. An advent calendar appears with 30 boxes so that each child can have a go, and it is definitely worth the time and effort when you see the pupils' faces on 1 December.
But the next job is 30 Christmas cards to make and write, plus a few extra for the teaching assistants, midday supervisors and governors. Then there are the calendars to make that will be hung up but never used.
As if that wasn't enough, don't forget the Nativity and the songs that will go round and round in your head while you are trying to sleep until well into the New Year. You might be lucky and get away with one performance, but you'll probably have to endure at least two sessions of blubbering parents and distracted children forgetting what they're doing.
On top of that, you will have a Christmas party, a Christmas dinner and probably a pantomime or two.
All this while doing your normal day-to-day job, which is likely to include the added delight of an assessment week, with levels and data to review.
Oh and if, like me, you can't bear coming back to the decorations in January, you'll take it all down and put it away on the last day of term.
So now you can understand why I am losing my Christmas spirit. And it gets worse. Christmas is just the latest in a long line of things that have been sidelined by my job. It has ruined so much that I am starting to fear it will dominate my life completely. My friends are all teachers, our conversations are about teaching, I read about teaching. I'm becoming a bore. Retirement is a long time to wait to get your life back.
The writer is a teacher in the South East of England
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