Countdown to Christmas begins…

This is the period where work and life go into overdrive so brace yourself.


It’s getting into that overdrive part of the year when everything on the work and the life side go into freefall.

There are requests for baking cakes, doing shifts on the tombola stall, costumes, Christmas jumper day, xmas presents for teachers, cards for entire classes, class xmas party contributions and then all the home stuff.

If you have more than one job, going to office xmas dos becomes fairly time-consuming. While a party is a good thing generally, more than one means you have to catch up on work into the small hours. By Christmas Eve Santa finds it very hard to stay awake, let alone climb down a chimney.

This is why I give thanks for secondary schools. Christmas seems to be of no real concern to them. The end of term is just another excuse for exams and parents evenings. They might have Christmas dinners and Christmas plays, but if your child is not into extra-curriculars [and none of mine want to stay one second longer in school than they have to by law, even though one of them is world class at drama of all kinds] then you have a free pass. The only Christmas-related thing I am aware of is a ‘reward’ day for daughter three, which she is somewhat dreading in case it involves no school uniform.

There is no need to buy presents for teachers because I only have a vague idea of who they are – and the idea I have is based on what I am told so I know that Mr xxx is great, but I suspect that this is mainly because he lets daughter two eat her lunch in class and talks about George Michael. I see the teachers every so often at parents evenings, but there is a big churn and all the ones I have warmed to over the years have left. I think there is a xmas fair, but no-one wants to go to it. This is the great thing about teens – there is no motivation whatsoever to do anything, particularly when related to school.

Then there is the home front: trees, xmas cards, decorations, presents. Only son is on cards. He has some designs in his head and will be committing them to paper. Daughter three is on decorations. My partner would rather starve than let me do the food and daughter two will make her own vegan concoction on the grounds that she cannot trust meat eaters to do it. Which leaves presents and general organisation.

I’ve spent many evening hours this week scouring the web for Black Friday deals and concluded there are none that bring the much coveted Nintendo Switch into an affordable price range – not even second hand.

It’s seems silly, though, to complain about Christmas preparations when so many families will be struggling to do anything at all to celebrate this year. We live just down the road from a place where homeless families are temporarily housed after being forced out of London due to benefits cuts. It’s a disused hotel, stuck in the middle of nowhere. You can’t walk to the shops because there is no pavement. I’ve seen mums with pushchairs struggling because the bus stop is right on the edge of a busy road.

We know too that many families are up to their eyes in debt just to get through everyday life, let alone Christmas, and that many will be deciding whether to heat their home or eat this Christmas. It feels to some degree as if we are in a perpetual Narnia. Some people have thick, warm coats to cope with it, while others are just in t-shirts. The difference is huge, but all of us are impoverished by it.

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