Bah humbug! For all its cheer and festive celebrations, Christmas isn't always one big happy bundle of fun. In part 3 of our TEFL Teachers At Christmas blog series we take a dive into the downsides of the festive season.
Let's not beat about the holly bush - Christmas is expensive. If you're an English teacher thousands of miles from home with a temporary contract and earning just about enough to live on then it's doubly expensive. Flying Bangkok to London or Singapore to San Francisco doesn't come cheap at the best of times - at Christmas even more so.
Then you add in presents for all those people you haven't seen in a long time, a new outfit, all the parties you'll be going to etc and you get the picture.
Let's not forget the self-employed teachers, to whom Christmas is a nuisance and a distraction that impedes earning potential.
Rex English, a self-employed English teacher in Madrid for nearly 40 years, epitomizes the disgruntled feelings that many have towards this time of year.
"Christmas is a curse."
He continues "No work for almost a month and never any money. Since people began thinking that a paltry €20,00p.h before tax was a "fair rate", Christmas has become a nightmare. I was charging 3,500pesatas (approx 21euros) p.h 18 years ago! I would work if anybody actually wanted classes over the Christmas period but, no, I'll probably stay at home and try not to venture out for fear of spending money I don't have."
Family? Surely enjoying the time spent with loved ones is the very essence of Christmas? Except some families don't work like that. For dysfunctional families being forced to spend time with one another can be filled with anxiety. Be it a ten year feud after a fight at a wedding, sibling rivalry or auntie Dot having one too many glasses of mulled wine, there's often something to be cautious of.
Some teachers do this job because they want to avoid certain family situations so Christmas is effectively just a time of year to dig out the excuse book and make sure they don't use the same ones for not coming home as last year.
You don’t have to check the calendar to figure out that the holiday season is on its way. A trip to any public space will let you know.
'Last Christmas' starts playing in one shop and then that's it - the playlist of what seems like the same 7 Christmas songs bellow out from everywhere. As the lyrics no doubt tell you about how wonderful Christmas is and past stories of love and happiness, the dread kicks in. Christmas is coming. But the worst thing is.... we're still only in October....
Let’s be honest, that boss who is horrible to you 11 months of the year hasn't suddenly developed a caring personality. Can he/she keep up their holiday kindness for the rest of the festive season? Could they even make it to January? Yeah, right!
Then there's your colleagues Disco Dave who declares 'Christmas drinks' every evening after work from mid-November and Jolly Jenny who insists festive costumes and big smiles must be worn every day from December 1st. Put the reindeer antlers down, Jenny.
It's minus 5 and you've got the sniffles. It's rained non-stop since your flight landed three days ago, it's dark at 3pm and all you want to do is curl up into a little ball in your bed. And then the phone rings. Uncle Jack and Aunt Mary have made a special cake and eggnog for you and they're on their way over. Get the kettle on.
"Another mince pie, dear?"
"Aye, go on then, mom. It's Christmas."
If there was one word that summed up Christmas this would be it. Excess. From presents to parties, food to drink and everything else in between Christmas is one big excess-athon. Be it gorging on turkey or indulging in wine there are no limits at Christmas. The trouble is you'll soon be back to the daily grind - 4 kilos heavier and an expensive new gym membership to boot.
And on that entirely miserable blog from all of us at TEAM TEFL have a wonderful Christmas and a very happy 2020. See you on the other side.