My childhood was spent in Australia; Christmas there is celebrated in the heat and for me it was without my extended family of aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents who lived in England. The magic of Christmas, the joy of the celebrations never felt quite right. Something was always missing.
But now – I love Christmas and I especially love celebrating the run up to Christmas at school. At BGS Christmas begins with the Association’s Christmas Fayre. The night before, the Head Girl’s Team in both the Junior and Senior School decorate the Christmas trees and on the following day we open up our doors, this year to over 300 people, our biggest Fayre ever. The Fayre is always a special occasion – a lovely mix of girls’ stalls raising money for Charity and professional stalls selling Christmas gifts. Parents and girls move between both, spending money and donating generously. It is special because it brings together the whole community, young and old, neighbours and parents, all entering into the spirit of Christmas.
The next Christmas event on the BGS calendar is the Year 3 Christmas production. This year it was enchanting, telling the story of Silent Night. I marvel at the maturity of our girls; at the age of 7 or 8 they have the presence to command the stage, singing, dancing and learning for some, large numbers of lines. Every girl takes part and every girl has her special moment on the stage. We give girls opportunities at BGS at a very young age, but what delights me most is that the girls readily seize them. The performance this year was exceptional and I commend the girls and the staff who directed them.
Polished performances are always on display at our Christmas Music Recital evenings. Always heart-warming and uplifting they demonstrate the wealth of musical talent from the Junior and Senior Schools and are a highly anticipated moment in our calendar. This year has been extra special for our Junior School choir who had the honour of performing for His Royal Highness Prince Charles as part of the opening ceremony at the Christmas Tree Festival at St Paul’s Church. It was a moving and memorable occasion for everyone involved.
Christmas is also about the Christian message; the birth of Jesus Christ. It is one of the most important traditions on the Christian calendar and we remind ourselves of this message with our annual Carol Service at St Paul’s, Bedford. We are, however, a school of different faiths and beliefs and although not all our community take part we give all the opportunity to experience this tradition.
We finally celebrate the other great English tradition of the Christmas pantomime. On the penultimate day of school, the Upper Sixth work with the staff to put on this annual production. This year it is Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and staff are already learning their lines, dusting down their costumes and looking forward to the roar of the approval of the whole school. It is a time of enormous fun as the staff share the stage with girls, acting spontaneously and revelling together in the slap stick humour of the event
Yes Christmas is a special time and I have to say, at BGS, one I look forward to every year.