Issue 54

Although I am not keen on the commodification of Christmas, I absolutely adore the religious and communal aspects of it; as the Head of a 3-18 school, I will have wept, snorted with laughter and a combination of the above by the time I have watched all the various nativity plays that my school put on for our parents. Equally, last year, one of my proudest moments as Head was the Nine Lessons and Carols that we held at Durham Cathedral. Even the prospect of tripping up in my heels on the way to the pulpit could not dampen my enthusiasm, and I am sure that this year’s offering will be no different.

For the past three years, my husband and I have spent Christmas in Spain, usually warm and often gloriously sunny at this time of year. However, we have decided that, this year, we will actually spend Christmas in the UK. Having become used to a relatively simple- and decoration-free – Spanish Christmas, I am a little unsure now as to how we will celebrate. Will we go full-out kitsch and glitter, or will it be a more pared-back, minimalist affair, sans tawdry baubles and tatty tinsel? One thing I won’t be doing this Christmas, however, is actually listening to radio stations that play ‘festive’ music. Even though I believe that ‘Last Christmas’ is one of George’s finest, I do become weary of hearing Christmas songs on a loop, and, notwithstanding its charitable intent, I cannot think of a more inappropriate one than Band Aid’s ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ In retrospect, listening now, 35 years after its release, it seems extremely patronising and culturally tone-deaf. I adored the song when it came out in 1984 but I think that it is time to remove this from the Yuletide playlist and replace it with a more appropriate song for the season: Steeleye Span’s ‘Gaudete’ springs to mind and even if nobody speaks 16th century Latin, at least you can sort of hum along without cringing at lines such as ‘Well, tonight thank God it’s them, instead of you’…

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