It is the last day of the year with a fully-crewed school. From next week we will run with a skeleton staff of students and teachers, and the atmosphere will change.
This is fitting for a mid-winter language school, which needs quietly to regrow itself from tubers in the dead of the year, like anything other institution. This, after all, is the True Meaning of Christmas™.
It is an oddly protracted business, celebrating the solstice and the end of the year, and it comes in no particular order: in Britain, of course, we celebrate Christmas on 25th and New Year’s Eve on 1st, and mostly rest or shop in between; in orthodox cultures Christmas is celebrated on the epiphany, after New Year; in Japan they go to KFC on 25th; and in China we have to wait until some time in February before everything really gets going.
And then there is the Christmas Truce. The Christmas Truce is the sudden peaceful cessation of spending and consuming which descends on the Western World every year around 25th December. The brutal and dehumanising trench warfare of the preceding few weeks, where desperate shoppers with thousand-yard stares go hand-to-hand over wastelands of tat, gives way to an eerie silence. The streets are deserted, the shops are all closed, a few people start to emerge slowly, mistrustfully, late in the morning, perhaps driving over to equally suspicious relatives; some walk down to the pub, the only establishments open, or, later in the day, take new bikes or hats and gloves out for a walk. It is an oddly human time, away from the crunching cash-registering machinery of modern consumer warfare.