Keep calm. It’s only Christmas!
The children are hyper, the staff are being bled dry, and a festive buzz hangs in the air like an intoxicated mist high on sherry fumes. No one would blame you for suffering from ‘viciquinquiphobia’ – the fear of Christmas.
You’ve had a letter from Mrs Kelvin complaining that Kara is ‘only a mince pie’ in this year’s Christmas production and that she was ‘in tears’ because she really wanted to be a Christmas pudding. Mitchell’s mum said that being a ‘sprout’ would scar him for life. It didn’t use to be like this.
Once upon a time, a letter went home asking parents to send their child to school with a dressing gown, a tea towel and a bit of tinsel but now Christmas productions are epic, and nativity costumes can sell on eBay for almost £200 as desperate parents bid for camels, gold stars and angels.
School life is panto in the raw and not for the faint-hearted.
If you are ‘in charge’ of the Christmas production, then you are doubtless running on adrenaline, caffeine and tubs of Celebrations around now. You probably volunteered to do it around May time when the sun was shining, and all things seemed possible. Now you just want to emigrate. But there is nothing more iconic of life in a primary school than a nativity. It’s one of the key highlights of the school year, and if you’ve directed and staged one yourself, then you’re a teacher for life.
They are full of learning curves and fun, peppered with heady unpredictability, ‘ahhh’ moments, guaranteed parental waterworks, hoots of hilarity and colossal relief – especially after the Shepherds were fighting in rehearsals.
Although Christmas has gone crackers, there is no place we’d rather be during the silly season than a primary school. The excitement and anticipation are tangible. Children and Christmas go together like cheese and crackers, Wallace and Gromit, turkey and stuffing.
It’s also the busiest place on the planet. Apart from the Year group productions, there’s the Christmas ‘Fayre’, Christmas concerts, Christmas disco, Christmas parties, Christmas lunch, Christmas jumper day, the Staff Do, Secret Santa and more. If you are lucky, you’ll also get some snow thrown in for good measure to drive children into more of a frenzy.
December is a crazy month. You’ve got holiday stress and your classroom's a mess… but deep down, you love it.
Then there is the Christmas postbox. This needs managing with military precision.
Once you’ve found the box that Miss Cumberbatch made five years ago, and touched it up with a bit of red poster paint, you’re good to go. Well, not quite. You’ll need to interview for postmen and women. This is an important job and in the interests of parity you’ll need to get two children from every class across the school.
What you need are sorters, so children who have shown themselves to be good at using Venn and Carroll diagrams are the ones to choose. You will also need GCHQ Code-breakers to read the sometimes impossible writing on envelopes. Having someone who can analyse handwriting styles and know in a second who it belongs to is paramount, especially for envelopes with names without class names. ‘Evie’ isn’t all that helpful when there are about 100 Evie’s in KS2 alone.
You will also be looking at reliability. If the post box doesn’t get emptied and cards delivered, you soon appreciate why Royal Mail are up against it.
Don't have nightmares
Christmas in school is magical, but it does take over your whole life. If you are starting to dream about paper chains, squashed 3D snowflakes, reindeer made out of pegs or teaching assistants miming actions to confused Reception children, then you're ready for a break.
Like Nigel Farage, you dream of getting your life back but once you have it back, you don’t know what to do with it, so you start thinking about January and the next term. Try not to if you can and enjoy the time away to celebrate with family and friends.
And as everyone seems to say, if we don’t see you before…have a good one!
Try your hand at answering some of our Christmas jokes here.