Thursday, 10 December 2009

The True Meaning Of Christmas

As any parent knows, 'tis the season to watch your children dress up as angels or shepherds or, in my case, angry chefs. Yes, I've been to see Sam in the infant school nativity play this afternoon. The age old story was told this year using the conceit of Ned the donkey seeking out the true meaning of Christmas.

There is something wonderful about sitting in a crowded school hall, searching the assembled ranks of costumed children, who are in turn searching the audience, for that spark of mutual recognition. The surreptitious wave, Sam's grin and the look of possessive joy and slight relief that daddy is there to see him perform will be a memory that forms one of those great pleasures of parenthood. He is dressed in black and white, wearing a chef's hat, and is only partially obscured by the piano. As Ned searches for the true meaning of Christmas, Sam and his band of angry chefs prove that the festive season is not all about food, with my boy delivering his one solo line, “With flour in my hair!” loudly and clearly. It is up to other parents children to dismiss toys and even Santa as being the essential element of Christmas but my attention is focussed on my child as he sings and dances his way towards the nativity. Eventually we learn that Christmas is about a baby, born in a stable and, as demanded by tradition and grandparents in the audience, Away in a Manger is sung.

Last week I trundled over to the school to see Matty in the junior school performance of Panto-Pandemonium, a witty subversion of traditional pantomime stories. Matty was a member of the vast choir that supported the big kids of year 6 who got to do all the acting. Next year Matty will be one of the big kids of year 6 and he is already angling for a major role. He lives in genuine terror that the school will change its tradition and next year the acting will be shared out amongst the years and as a result there will be less starring roles for him to audition for. Matty is determined to be an actor and sees next years Christmas show as his potential big break.

We are now well into the festive season as far as the school is concerned. Tomorrow the boys have their Christmas dinner. I may be persona non grata after Sam told his class that daddy says sprouts are the devil's food. Next week they have their class parties. Matty has to take six satsumas. I'm sending Sam with a bag of sprouts.

Until next time.