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Diary of a schoolteacher: Why I put Operation Christmas Payback into action

Thanks to the weather, we nearly got the Christmas holidays we wanted. After coming back from the Halloween midterm on the day after Halloween, I believed that the Department's utter and final separation from reality had come into being.

I ask you, who made that decision, returning to classes the day after most Irish kids have been enjoying themselves on the most busy night for boozing, arson, killing defenceless pets and stoning Garda patrol vans?

Do they have no respect for the traditions of this country?

Christmas holidays normally start just when the toy shops run out of all the faddy stuff and you've still got a pile of tests to correct and write up.

The 22nd or 23rd of December? Much too late, and my missus tells me that she's fed up schlepping a turkey and ham all the way back home from Dunnes on her own, with the kids and me stuck in an overheated school listening to 'Jingle Bells' when we could be helping.

Then the snow came to the rescue and we were off a good three days before Christmas Eve, free to dance around in the snow like in all the movies.

You even had time to fit in Hanukkah, already. Even though it was Christmas it was the devil who found work for my idle hands.

I think we all agree by now that snow is all very well on Christmas cards but from now on I'm dreaming of a green Christmas -- it's just too much hassle lacing up those mountain boots and falling over just to hand over my precious cash.

And then there was all that stuff in the papers last year about how the hard-working Irish 'private sector' was demanding that the evil 'public sector' should take a cut in salaries.

Yeah, thanks a lot guys, that's 15% less that I have to spend in your shops -- shops that this Christmas were so inconveniently situated a mile or so away at the end of a skating rink.

This made it easier for me to execute 'operation Christmas payback' as I went online and ordered in exactly what I wanted for really good prices from warehouses in England, Germany and India. No ice problem, no inflated prices and best of all, websites don't give you a dirty look and snarl, 'Are you all right?'

After that it was simply a matter of waiting for the deliveries (all gift-wrapped by Nigel, Helga and Raji) and hiding them under my bed.

We have missed so many school days this academic year already and yet it was only last Monday that we got back to work.

Up in the North they had no water but they still seemed by and large to struggle on from the fifth. I don't mind admitting that I'd have gone back earlier to finish off the Christmas tests, doing a partial day as usual; but was anybody asking?

No, we were all on holidays. That's cast in stone.

Irish Independent