It’s the one event of the year that is bound to bring a tear to the eye, the Christmas concert. Not so this year, though. With two teenagers on the verge of leaving school and a toddler not yet started, I’d seen it all and had it all to come again so I was looking for something good, I had high expectations for my six-year-olds, winter concert, we are unable to use the word Christmas at the school.
Sure enough, they were good, four classes beautifully choreographed sang songs about recycling and the water cycle. No pink, black, silver, gold or multi-coloured t-shirts, which might depict or imply personality just good safe blue, yellow and red and the honorary primary, Green. (which I told my child was because of Ireland, my exact words were, because there’s Ireland and then there’s the rest of the world, he seemed happy with that). Children from sixty different countries all over the world, wearing primary colour t-shirts, nice and clean. Unable to acknowledge Christmas in a Muslim country, there could be no mention of Santy Claus and talk of Baby Jesus was out of the question. The concert continued, all about the earth, recycling and the water cycle, it had everything, an internationally experience music teacher, a fully equipped auditorium, and perfectly in- tune children from all over the world. Their faces, telling, well-telling nothing really because let’s face it recycling doesn’t evoke as much excitement as Santa does. After an encore, yes, we demanded an encore of the reduce, reuse, recycle song, the curtain fell, the children went back to class. A master performance, coming from a school, city, country and region that doesn’t practice or indeed support practices of recycling at even a domestic level.
‘That was beautiful’ as Lebanese lady said beside me, not one to mince my words, I said ‘really you thought that was beautiful? I really didn’t think so, I couldn’t see one hint of culture, heritage or tradition, and speaking of things I miss from home I recalled the good old Christmas concerts of old.
Ah the nativity was there ever anything like it.
When we pretended that two six-year-olds were about to give birth but were faced with homelessness, before it’s time really when you think about it. The intro, little donkey little donkey, setting the lonely scene, until finally someone somewhere took pity on them and they were able to have the baby, here they present last years present from Santy, baby Annabelle aka Jesus for all the school to see, Away in a Manger capturing the delicacy of the moment. After things take a turn, presumably Mary and Joseph secure a house, possibly because now they have the baby, they are hurried onto a different waiting list, a more urgent one.
The three wise men bring shiny gifts, gold, frankincense and a Newbridge baby brush and everyone burst into, God rest you merry gentlemen….. Oh, tidings of comfort and joy. The rest of the class dressed up as Shepard’s are bordering on bored after all the seriousness of the scene but before the real fun begins they must listen to that girl from sixth class with the voice singing ….O Holy Night, brilliant altogether a real up-lifter for the parents and signal to the kids that the next three songs were what it was really all about. Rudolph the red nosed reindeer, Jingle Bells and the piece de resistance, you better watch out, you better not cry….Santa Claus is coming to town, the whole hall is in great spirits, drunk on the beauty of the innocence of kids.
Before you give up the day job, kit the kids out in flip flops and board shorts and move to the Middle East, be aware of one thing, our Irish and catholic culture is invaluable and spending an evening with a tea towel on your head pretending to herd sheep might not be everyone’s cup of tea but it’s ours and it has been for years its what schooldays at Christmas are all about. So before you throw in the towel and head for the sand, be aware that there is no place or replacement for traditions in Doha.