Country School Christmas

My mother was a teacher during the last few years of the one room country schools and this is where I spent the first five years of my school days. I have many good memories of this time, but I think my favourite is my grade three Christmas concert.
Putting together a Christmas concert in a country school meant getting everyone involved from grade one right up through grade eight. The artwork would start in November, with everyone cutting out snowflakes and coloring Christmas trees and ornaments whenever there was a spare moment.
Next the singing of carols would start and finally Mom would start the rehearsals for the play.
In third grade I was very excited about this as I finally had a real part in the play. I was not with the ‘little kids’ holding a letter for the words “Merry Christmas,” I was in the play with the ‘big kids’.
David, another third grade student, and I were playing the part of children who catch Santa in the act. At our first rehearsal we waited at the side of the stage for our instructions and finally Mom called out: “Okay Lois and David; now you run over to Santa and give him a big kiss.”
We were half way across the stage when the last part of her instructions sunk into our brains. We stopped and gave her the ‘you want us to what?’ look. After a few unsuccessful attempts at the kiss Mom finally gave in and said a hug would be good enough. Hugs we could do, we just didn’t want any of that kissing stuff.
About a week before the concert an afternoon was spent decorating the schoolroom. Rolls of red and green crepe paper would be twisted together to make streamers that the older boys would hang across the ceiling in a big X and loop around the room. The snowflakes were hung from the crepe paper garlands, pictures of brightly coloured Christmas trees and ornaments were taped onto every spare spot on the walls. Cans of artificial snow were sprayed onto cutouts filling the windows with snow pictures of snowmen, candy canes and all sorts of holiday scenes.
At the end of the day we all thought our school looked very festive and felt proud of our part in making it so.
The big night finally arrived and the school was packed with proud parents and grandparents. The students were all dressed in their Christmas best and ready to entertain their families.  Merry Christmas was spelled out, Santa was caught and hugged and the carols were sung; with only a small glitch here and there.
Just as the last note of the last carol was sung there was a big scuffle at the back of the room and there was Santa! He squeezed his way through all the families shouting “Merry Christmas and HO HO HO” until he got to the front of the stage where he handed out small bags of candies to every child in the room from babies to the oldest student.
When the evening was over, parents came and thanked Mom; wishing her a very Merry Christmas. Many gave her a wrapped gift, usually a box of chocolates. When everyone was gone we made sure the lights were all out then made our way across the yard to our house.

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