Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Happy Birthday Jesus
I have just been to the school nativity to witness my three-year-old as a solemn-faced star and the older boy as a Scotsman. Not sure quite how Christmassy a five-year-old in a kilt and tam o'shanter is but you get the picture. Tinsel, an anatomically correct baby Jesus and a refusenik shepherd who threatened a sitdown protest at one point - in other words, the usual nativity plus a few racially stereotyped stop-offs for the jet-set angels hunting out the best place for the messiah to be born. (Scotland being one of them complete with cabers, sworddancing and Irn-Bru.) The Japanese, by the way, are very polite and do a lot of gardening while in India apparently the smell wafting across the stage was of chicken tikka massalla. At our previous London school there were more black and mixed race children than white and Black History week was a major event. The very thought of dramatising chicken tikka massalla would have given its politically correct teachers the vapours. But there are no real ethnic minorities at my children's charming village school. About the closest you get to an ethnic minority is a red head. Anyway, it was utterly lovely and quite lifted me from my pre-Christmas doldrums. The parents may have been smiling at their beloved celestial tourists but religion at the school is a serious business and not just for Christmas. Even the tots were expected to sing "Happy Birthday Jesus" to a candle stuck in a mince pie the other day at their Christmas party. I admit clap-happy enthusiasm like that brings me out in a cold sweat. I struggle hard to believe in God and other people's certainty impresses me but when they "Praise the Lord" in public - sometimes they even wave their arms while they do it - I am swamped by the thought "Not infront of the little donkey."