23. Nov, 2021

The golden rule of Christmas

My Christmas cards are written and will be put into the post on December 1. The presents are all bought, wrapped and are ready to be posted or distributed. (I should confess that quite a few relatives will be receiving a signed copy of My Father's House, accompanied by promotional bookmarks for them to give to their friends. Opportunities for promotion should not be missed!)

The reason for this efficiency? I used to teach. As soon as December arrived work life got crazy. There were concert rehearsals, Christmas concerts, Christmas parties, Christmas assemblies, department parties all cracking off.

Each day there were excited school children to cope with. From the first school day in December, registration was interspersed with the surreptitious swapping of Christmas cards and gifts. It was the festive season so, in the spirit of the season, I ignored these furtive exchanges. There was no litter left behind! I wasn't feeling that relaxed! Each day the classroom floor twinkled with glitter particles that had fallen from the cards.

That was the extent of classroom Christmas decorations for my classroom. The boss said it was business as normal so there were quadratic equations to solve and graphs to draw. There was no time to construct garlands and Christmas stars, as Mathematical they might have been.

Some children used to give their teachers cards and presents. What they didn't know was that the Maths teacher with the most cards and presents had to buy the first round of drinks at the department's Christmas celebration. A lot of cheating and dishonourable behaviour went on.

One particularly Scrooge-like reaction occurred each year. The first card that Teacher X received would not be opened. It would be torn in half and thrown into the bin. "I don't do cards," Teacher X would say.

We knew for a fact that Teacher Y did not declare his total honestly. We knew this because we used to test him every year. We would buy cards and give them to students to write and hand to him. They were never seen in the pile handed over on results day.

On top of all that, there were the demands of my own family. Visits to pantomimes, nativity plays, family baking sessions and all the other things that made those days so special.

Personal discipline was the answer. I issued a decree in our household. All Christmas cards had to be written and all presents bought and wrapped by the end of November. It was strictly adhered to to enable us all to be stress free so we could all embrace all they nonsense and all the joy of the festive season.

I don't teach now. I write full time. I still obey the letter of that December 1st law, passed so many years ago in our lovely old home. So I shall scribble away through December with a stress free flourish and enjoy all the joys the season brings.

I hope you won't be running yourselves ragged with the preparations for the season....but, if you are, try to enjoy them. It's a special time.

Love and joy