“Go and talk to your son!”. It seemed lately that every arrival at home, in the old section of Glasgow, began with “Go and talk to your son!”. “Why?…what has he done this time”…answered Angus’ dad. “What trouble did he get into now?”. “None…so far as I can figure” answered Mary, mother of the aforementioned Angus.
“Then why am I going to talk to him?”. ” He’s not selling autographs again is he”.
“No dear, he’s not…you should just go and have a wee chat with him…that’s all.”
“Alright, I will”….”will I need some hobnobs as ammunition, or should I be okay on me own?”.
“You should be okay without them, but, then again, a wee plate of hobnobs never hurt anyone…least of all our Angus”
Dad, poured two glasses of cold milk, set six hobnobs on a plate and ventured up to himself’s room. He knocked twice, just above the “No gurls alowd” sign that Angus had put up after last nights arguement with his Mum, over carrots. Angus refused to accept the arguement that carrots gave you better eyesight…while his Mum said they did. A snicker from Dad at Angus’ response almost got him banished to the sofa for the night himself, with his own “No gurls alowd” sign going up in the living room. He remembered Angus standing up from his chair, and stating “If carrots give ye such good eyesight, how come so many rabbits get hit by cars at night?”. Then he stormed off.
He knocked again, and Angus opened up the door. Angus was still in his blue school shirt and grey pants. “Can I come in?” asked his father. “I’ve brought milk…and hobnobs”.
Angus stepped back and let his father enter the room. The walls were covered with posters, of cars, footballers, horses, bikes, cartoon characters….so much so, there was barely any space left for anything else.
“Yer mum said I should talk to you…son…do you know why?” “Nope”…said Angus…”do you?” “That’s why I’m asking you lad….she told me to come see you…do you know why I’m here?”
Angus tilted his head and answered “because Mum told you too?”.
It was clear they weren’t getting anywhere with this, so Dad asked “How was school today?”
Angus was now in full time kindergarten at St. Martin’s in The Fields Primary School in Glasgow. The school was old, dank, smelled of age and was one of the finest in all of Glasgow…for it’s age. It was famous for having had two members of The Bay City Rollers as students, one for about three months and the other a little less. They never graduated from St. Martin’s, but, it was something to hang their hat on.
“I got all my Christmas Cards taken away today Da.” said Angus. “I was giving them out to everyone, and the teacher, Mr. McDonall came and took them away.”.
“Why would he do that boy?”….”Where were you doing it?’
“I was outside before school started giving them out….” , Angus sniffed, “and he came over and grabbed them from me”.
Dad, remembered Angus working away for the past two nights, printing everyone’s name on the cards, as perfect as he could. It only took 43 cards to get the necessary 21 Angus needed for all of his young classmates.
“Why would he do that?”…”did he tell you why?”. “No Dad” said Angus through the rapidly increasing flow of sniffles and snot that normally accompany a crying child.
“I didn’t find out until I went to the office to see the Principal afterwards”.
“You went to the office for handing out Christmas Cards?” . “That doesn’t make any sense son, are you sure you weren’t doing anything else?”
“I was just handing out cards Da, that’s all”, said Angus as he grabbed another hobnob, which he quickly stuffed under his pillow for later. He would get in trouble for that one, but, it would be worth it.
“The Principal said something about Christmas Cards that say Christmas on them, can’t be given out at school anymore. They can only say Happy Holidays. If it doesn’t say Christmas on it, how can it be a Christmas Card Dad?”.
“I don’t know boy”….”but I am damn sure gonna find out”….and “you’d better eat that hobnob under your pillow before Mum sees it”…smiled Dad.
The pair ventured downstairs for dinner, neither discussing what went on in the room where “No gurls were allowed”. Dinner passed in silence, with Mum looking from one to the other to get some sort of reaction. Once, Angus started to talk, but it had nothing to do with what went on between Father and Son, so she continued eating. She would find out later after Angus went to bed.
After dinner, Angus went to the park with his friends for an hour to play football, and tag, and swing on the swings for a while. Mum, took this chance to corner Dad…and corner him she did….”What went on up there? What did you two talk about?” “He won’t say anything to me…what did he do?”
“Nothing….he did nothing wrong at all, so as I see it….Angus didn’t do anything wrong”.
He kind of smiled at that, because normally after being told “Go talk to your son…”, Angus had always done something wrong…this time…it was The Principal.
“Tomorrow, I’m staying home in the morning and taking himself to school….I’m going to see The Principal”. “What for?…if he didn’t do anything wrong, why are you going to see the Principal?”.
“Well, what time of the year is it?”…..asked Dad. “It’s Christmas silly, you know that…why?”
“Well, apparently it isn’t Christmas at St. Martin’s in The Fields…at least not as far as himself’s teacher and new Principal are concerned. It’s now Holiday time….not Christmas Time, Holiday Time. Our wee Angus got in trouble for handing out Christmas cards at Christmas. Does that make any sense?”…said Dad.
The next morning at breakfast, Angus looked up and asked “Dad, shouldn’t you be going to work? you’ll miss your train.”. “I’m taking you to school and going to see your Principal, son”. “Why?” asked Angus. “Let’s just say I’m going to give him a Christmas Card….have you seen my bible?”.
“It’s on the sideboard…but, why do you need that Da?”…asked the boy.
“Let’s just say…to make a point.”.
Mum smiled as the two men, both wee and tall, walked together hand in hand down the drive towards the school. Upon arrival, Angus went off with his friends, while Dad, went into the old, intimidating looking institution. He could smell the old wood soap and mustiness as he waled down the hall, past the class pictures and the old trophies that get hauled out and cleaned every year for games day, only to be put back again after the awards presentations.
Upon arriving at the office, he announced “I’m here to see The Principal…..where is he?”.
A pair of beady, spectacled eyes looked up from behind the front desk…and in a thin, reedy, voice asked…”And who might you be, sir…to come in without an appointment?”.
“Ah’m flippin’ Father Christmas, that’s who I am….I am Angus’ Mc Dougalls dad, and I am here to see the bloody Principal. Now where is he?”
“Without and appointment..” she started, quickly stopping when Dad, walked past the desk to the door marked M. Dingwall, Principal on it.
“You can’t go in there”…screeched the reedy voice…”not without an..” “I know…” said Dad…”not without an appointment…..well, I’ve got mine right here, and right now…” he said, waving his bible in needle noses face. He continued in to M. Dingwall, Principal’s office….and sat down.
M. Dingwall, Principal…looked up from the papers on his desk, which incidentally had 5, yes…5 Christmas Cards on it, and asked Dad…”and who are you to come into my office…”….”without and appointment”…finished Dad. ” As I told your chihuahua out front, all bark and no bite by the way, I am frigging Father Christmas, who I see on 3 of the 5 cards you have on your desk. That’s who I am, Father Christmas !!!”
“Well, Mr. Christmas, what can we do for you? ” asked a clearly shaken M. Dingwall, Principal. “I’ll tell you what you can do for me….you can apologize to my son, for a start. My wee lad Angus, came here yesterday morning and was sent to see you for handing out Christmas Cards, at Christmas. What am I missing here?”.
“I remember that….yes, he was disciplined and told no more Christmas Cards, it’s against the policy of the school board…it’s a religious holiday, and we are not allowed, with all of the various religious groups represented within our walls to favour one over another. So, no more Christmas Cards in this school. That is the policy.”, said M. Dingwall, Principal.
“That’s nice…then what are those 5 cards on your desk….the ones that happen to have Christmas on them and Father Christmas and a nativity scene, which if I know the book I am holding here, is a religious representation, and the reason we have Christmas in the first place. “…asked Dad.
“Those are private, they were given to me by staff” said M. Dingwall, Principal. “I don’t care if they came from Jesus Christ himself ” yelled Dad, crossing himself in the process, “They don’t fit in with the policy you gave my son a reprimand for yesterday.” He looked about the office, and saw a small, four foot tall tree in the corner as well. “Is that a Christmas tree or a holiday tree sir?, which is it?”
M. Dingwall looked up and said, “It’s a Christmas Tree, of course, haven’t you ever seen a…” and he stopped. He looked at the tree, and the cards, The eyeglasses out front went back to whatever it was she was doing before Father Christmas arrived. “I see….”. “You see what sir,?” asked Angus’ dad, looking at the tree, and the cards and ignoring the eyeglasses with the reedy voice out front.
“I see your point….It’s Christmas, not holdaymas, or xmas….it’s Christmas, and I followed policy that I myself am not following myself. I will change that right now….imagine, it took a visit from Father Christmas to get me to see the light…” laughed M. Dingwall, Principal.
“My boy Angus, will be in class, expecting to be told that he can give out his cards to the rest of his friends as he was yesterday…am I understood M. Dingwall, Princinpal?” asked Dad.
“Yes sir, the mark will be stricken from the record and his cards will be returned….I appreciate you coming in to clear up this little misunderstanding…even if you didn’t …” “I know…have an appointment.”. M Dingwall stood to shake Dad’s hand as he left, and as Dad reached the door, he said “Merry Christmas”. Dad thought a bit, smiled at what he had just accomplished and said to M. Dingwall, Principal….”and yes…It is A MERRY CHRISTMAS”.