I teach in Christian school and when I was interviewed I agreed to uphold the Christian ethos of the school. In actual fact, we are a multicultural school as we have children that speak 16 different languages, over 90% of whom are Muslim. In my class this year there are no Christians at all. The children are, mostly, fantastic. All from deprived backgrounds, many refugees and asylum seekers; some of them have seen so much more than I would ever want my children to see in their short lives. Some of them use school as their safe haven and, as staff, its our job to make sure it stays that way. Since having my son I only work two days a week and let me tell you, that’s more than enough for me right now.
Our children are high maintenance. They need lots of love, lots of understanding, lots of consideration, lots of attention and lots of support. Some of them are even higher maintenance; these children just need someone to care just a little bit.
Anyway, I digress. Being Muslim, the children at our school don’t officially celebrate Christmas. They obviously cannot get away from the fact that it’s here- let’s face it, the baubles are bouncing in our faces from September onwards and the shops are pushing the season upon us earlier and earlier every year. But despite the fact that Eid is so much more important for these kids, boy do they give the Christian kids in our school a run for their money in terms of enjoyment!
The kids in my class are all 8 and 9. The sight of Santa sends them into a frenzy. The eleven year olds, ready for high school soon, are the same. They LOVE that fat man in the red suit! They embrace Christmas. They love the story. They love that Jesus was born with nothing but some hay in a shed and they love the fact that every year we, for some reason, erect gaudy trees and spend loads of money to celebrate. They love the fact that we spend around two weeks eating cheesecake at ten thirty in the morning “because it’s Christmas”. They just love the celebration. And hardly any of them get presents at Christmas.
My daughter found my Christmas present stash today and my first thought was that I would have to go out and re-buy EVERYTHING for her… but hang on. It’s not just about presents, is it? We had a chat and we discussed the fact that Santa sometimes asks us to get things for him and we don’t know who those presents are for. I felt a little like a shady dealer of some sort but at least we averted disaster. It left me wondering, however, do my kids really enjoy Christmas as much as the kids in my class do? My school kids don’t get a tree at home or presents in a stocking. They don’t get a Christmas dinner and they don’t get to see pantomimes with bags of sweets. But they LOVE Christmas. Not as much as Eid, admittedly, when they do get presents and sweets etc- but they only get one day off school then. Imagine if we had to send our kids back to school on Boxing Day…
So, school’s broken up and my children have left me with a huge smile on my face. They really love this time of year, almost as much as my six year old, and for them it’s all about being happy and nothing more. Lovely.