On the last day of term I realise that I still have deeper depths to plunge on the chocolate orange front. It is the Sixth Form Christmas Review and one tutor group challenges the others to take on their Chocolate Orange Challenge. I am officially teacher tired and tetchy but my interest is piqued by this new event.
For once I am almost hopeful that the students might ask this old teacher to join in – after all, if there is a chocolate orange to eat, I have form. Give me a sofa and a good yuletide film and I can certainly polish off a chocolatey globe of orangeness – I may even be able to polish off two. Readers of this blog will know that when it comes to tapping, unwrapping and sharing a little luxury, Mama J has been practising this art since she started on solids. Oh youth is wasted on the wrong people.
There are 14 tutor groups and it transpires that the Sixth Formers have no difficulty encouraging their peers to come up on stage to see who is the fastest to polish off a chocolate globe. No man is a failure who has friends.
My own personal speed of confectionary consumption relates to my choice of Christmas Film. When watching ‘The Snowman’, ‘Die Hard’ or ‘The Polar Express’ I can be a speedy chocolate chomper. ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’, ‘Arthur Christmas’ or ‘Home Alone’ can see me happily juggling a milk choc orange in one hand and a clutch of Quality Street in the other. Multi-tasking is no problem with these films. Mulled wine? Don’t mind if I do.
‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ is a totally different seasonal creature however. Just the thought of George Bailey and Clarence Odbody and I am finally distracted from Terry’s finest. I will need over two black and white hours to recalibrate my year and get my head right in time to quash my Jacob Marley, Grinch or humbug before December 25th. No space in this pre-Xmas ritual for chocolate; I have always found it difficult to eat and have a little weep at the same time.
With term finishing it finally dawns on me that I am not going to be able to completely dodge Christmas family traditions or pretend I am not missing absent friends – especially absent Sis. I admit I have been in denial and now realise I need to do something about it. I know Clarence – with or without wings – would approve of a trip down memory lane and allow me to pretend I am totally absorbed in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ when really I am missing that life that touched so many other lives and remembering when Sis and I used to watch this film together.
I have a special memory of one Christmas when my lovely Brother In Law (Let’s call him BIL) ‘insisted‘ on cooking Christmas Eve supper and ‘locked’ Sis and I in their front room with a roaring fire and a glass of bubbles (well ok, a few glasses – ok, he left us a bottle each), telling us not to move from our respective sofas (it was a big lounge, don’t judge them) until James Stewart had done his best. We were extremely obedient. We both got a little leaky eyed but pretended not to notice each other’s wet face because we were both also a bit squiffy. We pulled ourselves together by the time the dinner bell rang (BIL’s little joke – for every time a bell rings an angel gets its wings). We were ravenous for not a chocolate orange segment had been harmed during the watching of that film and by then we needed something to soak up the alcohol.
All good things, all good things.
Back in Sixth Form and, as the Tutor Challenge commenced, I suddenly felt relieved that ‘Teach’ had not been invited to join the contest. 14 students looked more than orange around the gills as they struggled to cram a whole globe down in one go. Terry certainly knew what he was doing when he divided his oranges into segments. Every day’s a school day, students. The students were literally saved by the bell and disappear for two Terry-free weeks.
Away from school, lonely though this Christmas feels without Sis, I have no doubt that she has her wings. I have no doubt that she would want a lot of chocolate oranges eaten in her memory – she particularly liked to sneak Terry out on country walks and break him out when the rambling got tough – we will need to keep this tradition going.
I know Sis would approve of my seasonal recalibration with a ritual viewing of our favourite film; her’s was certainly a wonderful life.
I know Sis would have found the Tutor Challenge unworthy of Terry but it would have made her laugh nonetheless. She would be happy that I continue working on my Grinch and I am sure dear Frank Capra wouldn’t mind me mangling one of his best lines, in my sister’s honour; ‘Each (wo)man’s life touches so many other lives. When (s)he isn’t around (s)he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t (s)he?’
I will attempt to use my mound of Christmas chocolate oranges as something of a seasonal distraction. I won’t be able to watch George Bailey again this year for I am emotionally drained from my end of term viewing, but I can honour Christmas in my heart and I might even catch up with Christmas in Whoville – sometimes even the Grinch finds the right words; Now you listen to me young lady! even if we’re horribly mangled, there will be no sad faces this Christmas.