There really is nothing like the last two weeks of the Autumn term. In all of the experiences of school, the last two weeks leading to the break up for Christmas and the festivities that go with it illuminate the darkening days.
Yesterday I attended the Prep School Nativity. Now a Prep School nativity is also a unique experience, the array of tea towels I alluded to in last week’s scribbling was replaced by much more elaborate costuming. In addition to the robed Magi, a cast replete with Christmas jumpers and the directional guidance of a ‘cat-nav’, the cast did a magnificent job of bringing the story to life with joyous singing, some lovely waving to the audience on the way to Bethlehem and baubles on the tree.
Our Senior School and Prep School had their respective Christmas lunches, I was sad to miss the Prep School’s, but the Senior School festivities were a real treat. Father Christmas arrived and distributed crackers and balloons, the staff spent much of the afternoon sweeping them up and gathering them from the ceiling fixings, but all good fun. The Carol Service, Christingle and the Christmas card dispatch to the North Pole via the Old Library fireplace in the Manor House mark Christmas as special. The giving of Secret Santa gifts do the rounds and classrooms are festooned with paper chains and Christmas trees. (Please take a look at our Twitter feed and Facebook page for lots of photographs of these magical events).
The traditions we carry through the years end up carrying us. The expectation, routine and familiarity of our traditions are growing and gathering a wider audience. Not everyone at the Carol Service was familiar with the routine, the Nativity was familiar to some and to others less so. Our community is diverse, backgrounds are multifarious and the narratives we grow up with are now shared across a wider spectrum than when I was at school, caution reader, it is not that long ago. But the traditions serve the purpose of bringing us together, they create memories and commonalities, they create the cognitive landscaping that allows us to grow in understanding and appreciation of each other.
I hope that you enjoy the familiarity of family, the pleasure of routine and the opportunity to create your own narrative. I hope the Christmas period is peaceful and that we all return to the Spring term refreshed and ready for the adventures that it will bring.
Cliff Canning, Headmaster, Hampshire Collegiate School (@HeadmasterHCS)