The School Letter and Why I Don’t Hate #Christmas Like I Used To

FC

Okay so hate is a pretty strong word for it but at one time that was how I felt. Not about the day, the reason for it, the sentiment. But the build up…the overwhelming and relentless build up that threatened to crush any joy out of the festivities.

Baubles

It was when my children were small that my dislike for the entire Christmas season peaked, which seems a shame but like I say, the day itself was alright (although my favourite days have always been Christmas Eve and Boxing Day.) Watching the excitement grow in the children until it felt an almost palpable presence in the house was wonderful and none of that enjoyment was lost (even if it was experienced through a tidal wave of exhaustion that only well timed top-ups of mulled wine could dispel) it was just the dreaded acceleration towards the climax I couldn’t stand.

Mostly I blamed the school for the pressure and I have one particular example to share with you. When my children were at primary school our county was one of the worst funded areas. There was some reason for this but I haven’t retained the details and I have no idea if the situation is still the same. However the knock on effect was that money had to be raised to help support the school and there was an events schedule in place to do this…which felt to me like it peaked at Christmas because as well as everything else, there was the Christmas Fair.

Tree

Now all parents, and I guess anyone who was once a child, will be aware of the ‘letters home’ set up. Although at our secondary school, recently vacated by my son, this has been replaced by an email system which makes sense with over two thousand students. However at our primary school of less than 120 pupils the letters popped into rucksacks on the way out of the door was the way to go. It was a good system with most of the notes (at least those that hadn’t been left on the bus) making it even if they weren’t actually found until weeks later when the bag was eventually cleared out.

Snowman

There was one particular letter that has stuck with me, even though it was over 15 years ago that it arrived, screwed up with a couple of others, and it nearly pushed me over the edge. I only wish I’d kept it to insert here, but hindsight is a wonderful thing.

This letter arrived towards the end of term and I remember the Christmas Fair was being held the following weekend. I was already exhausted with all the Christmas preparations, shopping, cooking, writing cards, wrapping and delivering presents for a huge family, sorting out the decorations…well you know how it goes. In those days, on top of running my own business it sucked the life from me and the surge of adrenaline as panic set in was what woke me each morning.

This letter was on red paper, I suppose it was meant to be festive…and it read…

Bells

Christmas Fair (or it might have been Fayre?)

Saturday ** December

2-5pm

Please don’t forget we need your donations of mince pies (preferably homemade) and items for the White Elephant Stall.

Friday has been declared a non-school uniform day in exchange for your child bringing in a gift/bottle for the Tombola (but please, no homemade wine this year – labelled or otherwise)

Homemade cakes are needed for the Cake Stall and volunteers are still required for most of the stalls if you could fill in the gaps on the rotas where possible.

Cake

The school will be open after hours on Friday for the setting up of stalls (including Santa’s Grotto for which we still need a couple of elves! And can anyone remember where the fairy lights are kept?) and from 1pm on the Saturday if you could make sure you are all in place ready for Father Christmas’ arrival! No one wants to miss that!

Christingle Service

Wednesday 1-3pm

Christingle

All children are to bring in an orange (a Satsuma or similar is not a suitable replacement) by Monday and any volunteers to help make up the Christingles would be welcomed throughout all classes.

Your children have been sent home today with a cardboard candle and if this could be filled with any coins you can spare and sent into school before Wednesday please.

Parents are needed to help with the candles on the day (fire prevention!) and to get children safely to and from the church.

Nativity

Nativity (to be performed by Year 1)

Performances – Thursday matinee and evening and Friday evening

All costumes are to be named and in school by Monday ready for rehearsals. Tickets are available from the school office in person only please.

As a final celebration of the season we have decided to have a Book Day on the last Friday so please send your child in dressed as a character from A Christmas Carol.

Scrooge

(Really!! Is it any wonder I ended up feeling like him?)

holly

Now, I do realise that there will be those among you who are now shrugging your shoulders and wondering what the problem is because you could deal with this in your sleep and I can tell you that you are the parents that used to scare me silly during this time in my life.

I remember nearly staggering beneath the weight of all this extra stuff and after drying my tears and telling myself firmly to get a grip I gamely set off with yet another ‘to do’ list as if on some festive treasure hunt.

baby FC

Youngest child was at this stage!

My oldest child (the only one at school then) was to be an angel (of course :-)) and along with the sewing and tinsel edging I can recall doing battle with a couple of coat-hangers as I tried, unsuccessfully, to make them into wings without any welding equipment to hand. I would include a photo of my angel here but she occasionally reads these offerings and I’m sure would not appreciate her wonky halo being on such display.

angel

If this were a brunette it would be perfect 😉

I realise this post reveals so many of my inadequacies and am pleased to say these days are now well behind me and I cope much better with it all mostly because I ignore everything until the last possible minute. This is very easy to do when a) you don’t watch television so have not seen any of the Christmas adverts, and b) you don’t go shopping and so avoid the hell of the high street.

With less than two weeks to go however I do realise that something has to be done now particularly because my angel came to the house this morning with her brand new fiancé 🙂 and while I was out they put up the decorations as a surprise, because she knows what I’m like and because as I said before she is an angel (thank you xx)

baby angel

Sorry, but this was too cute not to include!

So there will be a little organisation over this weekend, a bit of online ordering and a couple of visits out to the shops over the next week or so. But I’m keeping it chilled, I like this new relaxed approach so long may that continue and of course if it doesn’t there is always the mulled wine to reach for…

mulled wine

Yum!

It’s far too early of course but in case we don’t see each other again I wish you all the best for a very Happy Christmas, a Healthy New Year and a fabulously successful 2016!!

Cheers all!!

…and don’t forget, every time this is shared an angel gets their wings 😉
Thank you x

About Georgia Rose

Georgia Rose is a writer and the author of the romantic and suspenseful Grayson Trilogy books: A Single Step, Before the Dawn and Thicker than Water. A short story, The Joker, based on a favourite character from the series followed and is free to download from Amazon. Her fourth novel, Parallel Lies, a standalone, encompasses crime along with Georgia’s usual blending of genre. Following a long stint working in the law Georgia set up her own business providing administration services for other companies which she does to this day managing to entwine that work along with her writing. Georgia’s background in countryside living, riding, instructing and working with horses has provided the knowledge needed for some of her storylines; the others are a product of her passion for people watching and her overactive imagination! Her busy life is set in a tranquil part of rural Cambridgeshire in the UK where she lives with her much neglected husband and dog. Their son, currently at university, comes and goes and their daughter, having delighted them all for long enough, has eventually moved out, got married, and is discovering the joys of being all grown up and having a mortgage.
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16 Responses to The School Letter and Why I Don’t Hate #Christmas Like I Used To

  1. Barb Taub says:

    AND if you think all that’s tough, try NOT being Christian, and having to handle all that plus your own religious/cultural festivals. Now we’re talking some fun!

    • Georgia Rose says:

      Crazy times Barb! I can’t contemplate taking on any other festival – religious or otherwise! I’m only up for as simple and quiet a life as possible – a roaring fire, a few carols, a glass, or two, of something calming, a tasty nibble preferably prepared by someone else, world peace…need I go on…

  2. Georgia, I’m so glad somebody else feels the way I do. Last weekend I spent about five hours wrapping presents and a further two to three hours writing cards. It’s not something I enjoy and I do it more out of a sense of duty. When I told my friend how I felt, she looked at me as though I had two heads. I also hate the pre-Christmas rush, crowded shops, traffic jams and everyone rushing around and in a bad mood because they are under intense pressure to get everything done for the big day.
    I used to enjoy Christmas up to being in my 20s and, thinking about it, it was probably the pressure placed on parents at Christmastime that changed my feelings about it, which is a real shame. Schools are partly responsible for piling on the pressure but it’s also become far too commercial.
    Having said that, I enjoy Christmas itself with the family. It’s just the build-up that I could do without.
    Now that my rant is over I shall wish you a lovely, relaxing Christmas with your family. As mothers, we’ve earnt it. 🙂

    • Georgia Rose says:

      I am totally with you on this and am so pleased it is not just me. I didn’t even go into the commercialisation of the whole thing as it might have become a novel, this was just one tiny aspect. I feel for you, I really do and as I haven’t even written a card yet – that thrill I save until the day after last posting, no, honestly I do – peace and goodwill to all! Take some time out Heather, that is my plan this year and I’m planning on sailing into the whole shindig on a wave of good intentions and I daresay the day will go off pretty much as it always does. I’m looking forward to it 🙂 I hope you have a very lovely Christmas too!

  3. Circumspect4 says:

    Wow!!! I about had a nervous breakdown reading that. Y’all celebrate so differently than we do. How overwhelming!

    • Georgia Rose says:

      You know what Ms C, we make life hard for ourselves trying to make everything just right, and it’s totally crazy. We end up exhausted, stressed and in no condition to enjoy ourselves. If only I’d realised that years ago 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting, it’s lovely to see you here 🙂

  4. Wendy Janes says:

    Georgia, that letter brought back so many memories for me (my youngest is now at uni)! Requests for homemade cakes, items for donation to the tombola, manning of the stalls, and (horror of horrors) the requirement to produce costumes for performances and dressing-up days. Luckily when Harry Potter was all the rage, my middle son happened to resemble Daniel Radcliffe so “go to school as a book character day” was a doddle – inked scar on forehead, a pair of glasses, and a wand, and were were done! Glad you’re keeping it chilled this year, and I hope you enjoy the festive season.

    • Georgia Rose says:

      Thanks for stopping by Wendy and I’m glad it’s not just me that found all of this overwhelming. My son generally went as an urchin to most things following a production of Oliver although I do remember a Professor Lupin/Werewolf get up as well which must have been for another book day – probably once he’d grown out of the urchin one. I’m very envious of the fact that nowadays fancy dress outfits are pretty easy to come by so that is one of the pressures off! I hope you are finding it all much more relaxing these days as well and have a very enjoyable Christmas 🙂

  5. Sally Wilkinson says:

    I wonder how many people feel like you, Georgia, but aren’t able to be honest about it. Christmas is a massive pressure for just one day, but then I wouldn’t be without it. I’m a sucker for twinkling lights on a dark winter’s evening!

    • Georgia Rose says:

      I imagine probably many Sally, the amount of pressure we put on ourselves is ridiculous but at that time in our lives it didn’t seem to be an option to just say, ‘No, I’m not doing that.’ I guess it’s because it’s all for the children and I do like twinkling lights that brighten those evenings but find I’m able to appreciate them a lot more now. Many thanks for commenting Sally and I wish you all the best for the festivities 🙂

  6. Linda Huber says:

    As far as Christmas is concerned, my own feeling is there’s a lot to be said for minimalism. And now that the kids are grown and there are no teachers etc breathing down my neck, that’s exactly how we do it. (Excluding the Christmas sherry, I’m never minimalistic about that!) 🙂

    • Georgia Rose says:

      I am totally with you on that Linda – minimalist is the way to go, and you can do this once the kids are older, as I am finding!! But sherry?? No, no, no, I had a nasty experience with that in my early years of alcohol testing and it’s put me off for life. However I hope you have your Christmas stocks in and have a very merry time 😉

  7. Georgia Rose says:

    Terry Tyler can’t comment on my blog – but she’d like to!! Here is what she says…

    I really enjoyed this post!!!

    I can’t believe the cheek of that letter. Even for the ‘professional mum’ types, it’s a lot to fit in. I think I’d have been tempted to send it back to the secretary with a rude word written across it, except that, of course, it would be the children who suffered.

    Being childless I have nothing with which to compare this except for my own childhood. Look, this wasn’t so long ago, ie the 1960s. I went to a church school, and even then they didn’t do all this STUFF – a select few were in a nativity play and those who didn’t get picked…. weren’t. That was in the days before the culture of encouragement, of course, when every child had to be made to feel ‘special’ (that SO prepares them for the real world, of course). We had a the nice carol service and possibly a bring and buy, and that was that. I certainly never remember being taken the piss out of for my crap angel wings, and I know my mother would have thought ‘stuff that’ about making any!!

    The point I’m making is that the pressure on parents from television, internet and now schools is all part of the have-have-have-until-we-explode culture…. which I loathe and refuse to buy into, too. So glad you’ve found a way to do it in a low key way too! I just have 2 more things to say – I think mulled wine is disgusting, and WTF is a ‘Christingle’????

    • Georgia Rose says:

      Thanks T! Oh this was a common thing at primary school Terry, but peaked at Christmas. I remember they never tried to fit in a book day again at that time of year I think that was one step too far for many. I think at that time that the pressure was on for stuff to be homemade as well, like the mince pies and the cakes whereas now no one would think twice about turning up with a box of Mr Kiplings. I’m just relieved that those days are over though I feel for those parents still going through it, although I’m sure most cope with it all much better than I ever did 🙂

      There’s a time and place for mulled wine Terry and it can be delicious when done right! We have it after the carol service here and it is very tasty 🙂 A Christingle is the orange thing and each part of the decoration of it demonstrates part of the Christian story though generally the children are more interested in the pointy cocktail sticks with sweets on them and of course the candle which I hope is still allowed to be lit in these days of health and safety. The church filled with tiny children each grasping a flaming orange is a sight to behold although, of course, a major fire hazard. My angel nearly lost her fringe one year because she wandered off into some dream world 😉

  8. Rose Edmunds says:

    I must also put my head above the parapet as someone who detests Christmas! It’s the pressure for everything to be just perfect that really gets me. And I hate the way everyone spends money they can’t afford buying people they don’t like stuff they don’t need. As the child of a hoarder, the waste and pressure to acquire really bugs me. And yes – those bloody schools – when you’re up to your eyes, just the thought of one tiny additional task can push you over the edge. Like you Georgia, I do enjoy the day and don’t even mind cooking the meal, but Boxing day is my favourite, and I’ll take a G & T over mulled wine any day! Anyway, here’s hoping everyone manages to get some enjoyment over the holidays! x

    • Georgia Rose says:

      Excellent, I feel I’m starting some kind of support group here where people can come and share their gripes with the so called ‘holiday’ season – for some it’s not! I agree totally on the spending money thing as well, all that worry for those people who go into debt over it, it’s terrible. Roll on Boxing Day 🙂 Ooh and I’ve never been known to turn down a G&T either Rose 😉 Many thanks for stopping by and I wish you all the best for the festivities!

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