Monday, December 14, 2009

Hey Macarena

So, Friday afternoon as I mentioned, I went into school with four other "moms" to talk about Christmas. Half the kids in Little Guy's class are Jewish and a smattering are being raised in the dark, religiously speaking (Little Guy being one of those), so knowledge of the Baby J isn't actually a given.

I had organised my day around being in the classroom at 1pm, (meaning that there was no room for a workout alas), then teacher e-mailed to say she should have said 2pm not 1pm. I stuck my fingers in my ears, sang La-la-la loudly, and carried on as if there was no time for a workout.

The first mom (actually a granmother) told the Nativity story and explained that Jesus was actually a Jew; born and died a Jew. I'm not sure how this was translated by the Jewish 6 year olds that night at home, but so far I haven't heard any complaints that we told them all to become Jesus. I give grandma full marks for keeping them riveted for a full 6 minutes though.

Next was me, with the Christmas crackers (thus avoiding talking about the religious side of Christmas and possibly being hit by a bolt of lightening). The word was out the Little Guy's mom was bringing in crackers, and indeed, there was an audible sigh of disappointment when they saw a box of long paper things instead of food. However, when I told them how we Brits all pull these crackers and sit around the dinner table with silly paper hats on, they all had a laff.  I did tell them there would be some kind of "gift" inside, but knowing how terrible and cheap these items usually are, I tried to temper their excitement.

As one could predict, it was bloody mayhem once I'd given them all a cracker. Two little girls went flying backwards into their desks when their cracker finally snapped. One boy claimed to have a paper cut from the hat, until I pointed out that it was made of tissue, and I nearly broke my son's wrist trying to pull the cracker for him. They all gamely wore their paper crowns, even though they appeared to be adult size and kept sliding down over their noses. (Do the manufacturers use Shrek as a head model? Those crowns never fit.)

And sure enough, the crackers contained small, plastic toys, the quality of which was highly questionable. No matter - the kids loved them. A big hit was the red, thin plastic "mood" fish that curls up on your palm and is meant to tell you about your personality. There were squeals of delight as they watched the fish move about as if my magic. Trouble is, a lot of the kids can read fairly well and were able to make out words like "passionate" and "in love" on the instructions. (Note - "passionate" now means only that you have a lot of emotions, and "in love" means that you love your parents a lot.)

We moved on to decorating cookies, which was another event as the small red sweeties were actually Hot Tamales, (revolting hot taste) which caused the more dramatic in the group to howl in pain and generally make the cookie mom feel awful. The last mom talked about Winter Solstice (being a fellow heathen) and played beautiful winter New Age-y type music. After that, the teacher let the kids "visit" which is the American term for "talking to each other". They shared their cracker toys and generally had a great time.

Half of the toys from the crackers were teeny tiny musical instruments, and before we knew it many of the kids had started marching and dancing around the classroom to the music. The teacher let them get on with it and soon all 18 six year olds had formed a conga line. Teacher then put on the Macarena and the kids let rip. It was the funniest thing I'd seen for a long time as they all had their own personal "moves". My guy could be seen doing a fake moon walk, but had to stop since he was going in the opposite direction (as usual) from his classmates and an accident was inevitable.

How a Christmas presentation ended up as a congo/Macarena I'll never know but it was uplifting, and just as Christmas should be.

16 comments:

  1. Damn- where were you when I was learning about Christmas???????

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  2. A good time was had by all then! Nothing like a cracker to get things moving!

    Nuts in May

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  3. Sounds like great fun. I've just managed to find crackers in a supermarket - the first I've seen. Can't have Christmas without crackers....

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  4. What a great idea! Our kids are having a multicultural day and I may have to copy it! I just found my crackers in a little british shop here in SF, and the black treacle for my christmas cake too!

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  5. Great post! Had me laughing all the way.

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  6. And the best thing about it is you've just supplanted all my memories of the dreadful dance that went with the original Macarena... Thanks!

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  7. Aww! What a fun time! I'm assuming from this that the US don't have crackers?? Excuse my ignorance. I love the image I now have of your 6yr old moon walking the wrong way..Haha!

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  8. I'd forgotten about the red plastic mood fish! I liked those!

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  9. It's about time someone taught the Americans about crackers, they are THE great Christmas tradition.

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  10. Sounds awesome. What a great way to introduce the children to so many different traditions/histories.

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  11. I'm fairly certain that Jesus could conga like nobodys business! Sounds like the Christmas play on Love Actually..."the Christmas Lobster' and all that. tres cute!

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  12. This is my fifth Christmas in Britain, and I only recently found out about the silly paper hats. But why? Why? Why?

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  13. I tried introducing Christmas Crackers, from World Market, to my father-in-laws house last Christmas. They were luke-warm about the whole idea, lots of 'so we have to wear this hat for the entire meal?' etc etc, but the mood fish - that was a HUGE success.

    The more I live over here, the more I realize that half of what I consider good, secular Christmas, is a complete load of paper hats and mood fish!!

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  14. Oh I love crackers too and make everyone wear them for Christmas dinner. Did you find a spider ring too?

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  15. Those mood fish were absolutely my FAVORITE when I was a child. We all fought over the mood fish.

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