I can’t remember as a teacher ever writing December 21st on the whiteboard and still trying, so close to Christmas, to convince students that GCSE set texts might be more interesting than watching ‘Elf’, ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’ or eating their own body weight in Miniature Heroes. Usually, to shake off the memories of school Christmas lunch, teachers finish term with a week in hand; by now we would normally have enjoyed days of lying face down in a tub of Celebrations (other chocolates are available) and have set up an intravenous supply of festive spirit.
Naturally, I battled on valiantly until close of play, trying to convince Year 11 that Priestly originally titled his play ‘An Inspector Clause’ and that Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ was intended as a ghoulish Christmas pantomime for the court of King James I, with Lady Macbeth penned as the pantomime dame. They were having none of it. I gave in and we settled for designing our own game of ‘Jekyll & Hyde’ top trumps characters. Naturally I won.
Now that term is formally finished, I’m actually delighted that we went to the wire. I’m delighted because I can use the feeble excuse that my pop up Christmas is lacking in finesse only because I couldn’t wrestle myself free of school carol concerts and Sixth Form mince pie eating competitions (6 mince pies in 2 minutes was the student record, by the way – young metabolism and all that). I’m delighted to excuse the total absence of sent Christmas cards with the time honoured excuse, ‘time at school totally ate my homework’.
Now that I have finished work, instead of hitting the shops to play catch up, spoiler alert, I took the decision today to spend the morning lying on a yoga mat to restore some peace and goodwill.
Driving back from the class I did some reflective pondering over the last 12 months and across my weekly blogs, and decided that while for those I know and love Santa may have dropped some lumps of coal over the last 12 months, he’s gifted people in the way that they have responded:
- Take Mildred for example. She was told to bog off in no uncertain terms, and, with a little surgery, my oldest friend (remember, I keep telling you, she’s not the oldest friend, but the friend I’ve known for the longest time) kicked her into touch. She pickled Mildred’s memory in gin and now she’s attending daily radiotherapy sessions to ensure the message has hit home. Only this friend could embrace an enforced daily visit to Brighton Hospital so gracefully, eulogising about the NHS, squeezing in some Christmas shopping, experiencing new coffee houses and attending a pagan festival called Burning the Clocks. Asked if the radiotherapy is making her tired, she responds, ‘I’m sleeping like a baby, it’s brilliant’.
- Then there’s mum. Turns out she had no plans to leave us in the summer, even though back then she seemed to have turned her face to the wall. Back at home now, she’s queen of the village again, swimming, wearing her purple tracksuit at pilates class and allowing her grandchildren to film themselves on her new stairlift for their instagram stories. 93 and trending on social media, another gift.
- Then there’s sis. That flipping rocking chair still keeps her busy, orbiting her every time she looks too comfy, but she refuses to replace it with a recliner (do they make an Alexa-activated Parker Knoll by the way? ‘Alexa, could you tell this flipping critter to take a long walk off a short pier with Mildred?). Sis just notches up the chemo, ignores her white blood cells and aces the 900 mile road trip back to Italy for Christmas. She’s rewarded by the most amazing sunset because she’s worth it.
- Then there’s Favourite Daughter and Favourite Son. They are the gift that just keeps giving and they’ve made this year such an adventure. I won’t embarrass them by pointing this out. I know how kids hate it if a parent singles them out, prattling on about how ace they are, starting to boast to strangers about their accomplishments, their good looks, their kindness. No, I won’t do that. Gifted those two, though
- Then there are my band of brothers, always keeping me on my toes. One of them turns up to Boot Camp this week sporting a new cobalt blue buzz cut. I’d love to see her doing her ward rounds over the Christmas break; her patients will love the injection of colour. It just raises your spirits to have such irreverent, gutsy, witty friends. Thank you.
- And then there’s me. Still standing. Still smiling and not as scared as I was at the start of the year. Still present tense. Santa must have written some sort of positivity clause into my mid-life season.
Now that I’ve done this Janus-style reflection – this end of term report – I can spare us all a ‘New Year, New Me’ type blog. Now there’s a present to be grateful for. It’s worth a Celebration even. Miniature Hero, anyone?