Christmas Tree

Our Christmas tree is too elegant. I think it sends out the wrong message.

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Not about Christmas. I don’t know what message Christmas trees send out about Christmas. That it is here. That we recognise its approach. That rebirth from the dead of winter is possible. Something like that. Nor about the professionalism of the school. The tree is neat, of a piece, well put together. As are we.

No. It sends out the wrong message about language learning. It suggests that, as an institution, we provide a neatly assembled finished product. You come in freshly cut and we assemble you, perhaps add a few baubles, some discreet lighting, and set you up in the window.

We do not  For all the talk about eloquence, learning a language, and being eloquent and expressive in that language, are much more of a ragpicking affair, a hotch-potch hand-to-mouth accumulation, more akin to the Christmas Trees of my childhood, where the dusty, slightly rubbish  decorations were brought down each year and just lumped up on the tree, perhaps added to a little, or winnowed. It was not beautiful and heaven knows not elegant, but it was expressive of something, of a certain narrative, of family history, of good humour, and just a little bit of the carnivalesque, perhaps. It had, in short, personality because it was not elegant.

In an ideal world, students at the school over the Christmas period would each bring in some piece of tat or other, and assemble, over time, a totemic, pleasing, energetic monstrosity, along those lines. And then perhaps we could all dance around it. Although, come to think of it, that might also send out the wrong message.

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