There was great cheer in our house this weekend for the Christmas countdown has begun.
No, the decorations aren’t up (they will be staying firmly in the attic until about 10 days before the big day). Call me a Scrooge, if you like, but I tire very easily a dust-laden tree and shedding needles.
And the cards are still in the carrier bag in a drawer in the spare bedroom. They’ve been there since I bought them in the January sales. This year, like every year, I am determined the write them and send them with second class stamps on, thus precluding the need for a panic first class postage for UK-based family and friends and sending cards to Bermuda, Germany and Australia on Christmas Eve.
No. The reason for such simmerings of festive cheer is this: the school Christmas has taken place!
This year, for the first time in six years, I didn’t help the parents’ association. I was chair for one year and vice chair for two and committee member for three. I felt guilty, but circumstances have been different this year.
I didn’t relish the idea of going through redundancy and finding a new job while writing letters to organisations to ask for prizes for the grand draw or sitting through committee meetings, organising hampers and stalls and drawing up a schedule. Don’t know why, but I imagine even a super woman like Nicola Horlick would struggle to keep the stress levels down when organising an event like this.
It takes up a stack of time and the meetings become bogged down with the same topics of conversation crop up. Every year the same problems occur: the queue for Santa is too long and people become fractious. One year, some poor frazzled parents stood in a line for nearly an hour. Thank goodness, therefore, for a parent who is a magician. He managed to keep some of the increasingly frenzied youngsters (and adults) in good humour for a little longer.
Every year, the committee agonises about what to do about it, then nothing really happens. Except for this year and a colour coded ticket system, which meant visitors went to see the strange spectre who looked more like the Grim Reaper (but in red, naturally) than Santa at allotted times.
So this year, I decided to go to the fair and walk around with the children (giving husband a well-deserved break from it. The thought of attending sends him into a cold sweat).
The choir sang beautifully and there was some festive tunes over the loud speakers in the hall while we jostled to get some tickets for the tombola. Isn’t it funny how the same things seem to crop up every year at the tombola? I usually win something and stash it away to donate to the next fair. It’s the ultimate in recycling. I do wonder how old some of those toiletries are that crop up, though. Maybe we should install a discreet device on these items to see how often they make the journey to school…
This year, I went one better and put the ticket back in the drum when I realised I’d won a bottle of something that was called buck’s fizz but was about as genuine as Jordan’s boobs. It looked a bit dog-eared, too. Bet it was won at the summer fair and returned for the festive event …
In the hall, there were tables decked with red table cloths where we weary parents could sit and drink a polystyrene cup of wine (always get a licence … this is crucial). Perhaps I should have written “wine” rather then wine. It was quite simply the most revolting stuff I’ve ever had the misfortune to drink – and believe me I’ve tried some stuff in my time (including Mad Dog).
The children won a bunch of tat and tons of cheap and nasty sweets; I won a jigsaw (being donated to a friend’s mum) and some Tesco secateurs (ideal gift for the summer fair tombola, I think) and – shock – two prizes in the grand draw. Not the £100, sadly, but a photography voucher and a mobile phone. Woo!
But, I’m already looking to next year’s fair. Why?
Well, as I wasn’t manning a stall I walked around and spent an ABSOLUTE BLINKING FORTUNE. I know the money goes to a good cause (the school parents’ association), but looking into the empty purse, I felt as if I’d inherited the Treasury’s national debt.
So, next year I’ll be back and helping out. I’ll be doing a good turn and saving myself some dosh. Fantastic.