Wednesday, December 20, 2006

One Man's Christmas Tree

I thought for sure that I was not going to have to work this week. Seriously, who wants English lessons the week before Christmas? Surely people will spend the whole week standing in line at the post office. It turns out that almost all of my customers wanted lessons. Although I had Monday and Tuesday off, I have 10 hours of lessons today, 4 tomorrow and 5 on Friday (Friday?!)

In order to make my lessons more festive I have injected some Christmas fun into the mix. I do a little worksheet with some Christmas vocabulary. We do a listening activity involving the song "Santa Baby" and writing letters to Santa Claus. We also fill out a chart about the differences between German and American Christmas traditions. This has caused a bit of a problem.

Last week we talked about the differences in Christmas trees. Whereas, Americans put up there trees as early as Dec. 1 and cover them with colored lights and balls, Germans put up their trees on Dec. 24 and use red balls, white lights, candles and maybe straw stars as decorations. Americans usually take their trees down on Jan. 1 but Germans wait until Jan. 6. Last week, I spoke quite affectionately about some of the decorations that my mom used on our tree when I was a child. One student screwed up her face and sat back in her chair with a look of disgust.

"Well that is just tacky!"

I usually don't offend easily. However, at that moment I felt like all of my childhood traditions had just been spit on. Instead of being a good teacher and counting to 5 and letting it go, I arched my eyebrow and starred out her.

"Seriously? Red balls and white lights? That is totally boring."

It was her turn to be offended. I should not have said it, but really, although you might find some one's Christmas traditions a bit loco, doesn't mean that they are not very special to that person. So in the spirit of acceptance at Christmas time, I will put on the red ball and white lights that the German so loves. However, some color may find its way on the tree in the back.


Jul said...

Ha! I totally know the feeling. When I taught English, I had to stifle many responses to students who had offended me. Sometimes I failed on the stifling part...

And my Christmas week lesson was always to watch The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (the orginal cartoon) and read parts the Dr. Seuss text. I practically know it by heart now!

Haddock said...

Christmas traditions are not really that old anyway. I believe the Victorians made the tree idea popular.

Personally I prefer the tinsel, lights & coloured balls on an Xmas tree. Mrs H would prefer no tinsel or lights but have candles. We compromise - so this year no candles (serious fire risk!), and no tinsel.

When Xmas is over I will chainsaw up the tree and burn it! :)

Berlinbound said...

A very Merry (and color-filled) Christmas your way ...

Dixie said...

As I've been collecting Christmas ornaments for nearly 30 years now I decorate my tree in the manner I've always decorated my tree and every German I know loves it. All of our friends and even some of my neighbors come to see my tree at least once during the season. They're all fascinated by all the little trinkets and do-dads.