Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Beyond Belief: Comment

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Beyond Belief: Comment

Article excerpt

I'm knackered. It's been a back- breaking term: we've had a visit from the inspectors, mock exams, book trawls and management shake-ups. And, now we're at our weakest, Christmas is at our throats.

I think I'm over Christmas. When my kids were little, it felt different. Their faces would light up if I gave them a sock stuffed with satsumas, but now I could spend Pounds 1,000 and they'd still look underwhelmed. And they're not shy of letting me know.

The first thing they do when I hand them their gifts is to ask if I have the receipts. That's a bigger vote of no confidence than your husband tipping your lovingly created turkey soup straight into the dog's bowl.

In my children's defence, we do have conflicting ideas about the best place to shop for presents. They want them white and shiny from the Apple Store; I prefer them white and shiny from Catalogue Clearance.

My daughter is the only one who pretends to like what I buy. Each year, she puts in an Oscar-winning performance: her insistence that "They're just what I wanted" as she stares at a pair of thrice-reduced slippers is enough to break my heart.

So this year I'm skipping the sorry charade and handing out some cash.

Surely Christmas doesn't have to be this shallow. With all the retro stuff going on - ballroom dancing, home-made pies, children living in Victorian destitution - we could garner support for a more old-fashioned celebration.

Yuletide's the one for me. What could be better than spending the winter solstice drinking ale, lighting fires, sacrificing beasts and smearing yourself with blood? …

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