My last two weeks before the Philippines are being spent at Shonan High, and I have been charged with injecting some festive spirit into the school and its students. I am officially “Head of Christmas Cheer” (a self-appointed title I must add). We have two Christmas lessons per class, and are making christmas cards! As ever, each class will begin with an inspirational song, and, it being the season of joy, they will obviously be Christmas Songs. The first choice for Xmas Song was taken out of my hands- John Lennon (it is Japan, after all) and “Happy Christmas” or whatever that dreary song’s called. As for the second, I was rooting for what we all know is the best Xmas song ever, Fairytale of New York, but as many native English speakers can’t understand Shane MacGowan, its not really fair to inflict him on the Japanese kids. Instead we’re going for the bizarrely popular “Last Christmas” by Wham.
Luckily the festive songs aren’t just limited to our usual “English song of the week”; while the students scurry around making their cards, we’ve been playing background Christmas music to fill everyone with love and joy. We’ve also been learning such classic seasonal phrases as “Happy Holidays”, “‘Tis The Season”, and “Wishing You A Joyous Christmas” (I vetoed “Make It Merry” as a step too far).
Everyone’s been enjoying the lessons, and the students have warmed to me and my crazyness, getting used to me wandering into the lessons singing “Silent Night” and other songs in a ridiculous style. I even suggested a musical lesson in which everyone sings instead of speaks, for example “Please can you pass the scissors” to the tune of Come Al Ye Faithful (you probably have to be inside my mind for this to make sense I fear). But alas no, it was vetoed. Strangely, many teachers have been shocked when I’ve told them I’m not religious. I’ve been trying to explain that, dispite evident popular belief in Japan, not all Westerners are Christian, and many are just into Christmas for the general spirit of generosity and kindness, like myself. Plus the gifts, food and (most importantly) port, of course.
Finally, I was given a lovely classic children’s book “Hyaku man kai ikita neko” (The Cat Who Lived A Million Times) by the kindergarten and its teachers on wednesday, after my last kindergarten lesson of the year. It’s so nice! And I can more or less read it. It was signed by the 5 20-year old Japanese teachers and their teacher, Reito-sensei, who is a cool guy with the most excellant turns of phrase in English, and given as a late birthday present, even though I never told them when my bday was! How kind.