Its the most wonderful day of the year - or at least, it is for 'Salina and many of her counterparts in the Queensland Education System.
Break Up Day!!!!
I remember how we looked forward to it when I was a girl.
In those days (post-slate but pre-computer) there were 3 school terms of about 13 weeks apiece. They were long terms, it is true, but the last term was longest with the heat of Summer sapping our brains and the knowledge that at the end of its interminableness were 6 well-earned weeks of holidays at Christmas - Hooray!!!
My memory, however, is at odds with 'Salina's experience.
How come our teachers didn't quit teaching two weeks earlier and allow us to colour in and watch videos?
No, they quit teaching about two days before - but it was only to harass us into picking up every scrap of rubbish (of which there was very little - we were constantly harassed about such and therefore it rarely hit the ground); get us scrubbing desks and chairs; cleaning blackboards, science shelves and sports storerooms; sorting stuff, throwing out stuff and shoving stuff in to our bags to take home for our mother's to treasure (or throw out).
On the final day, however - break up day - every child was at school, smiles a mile wide and pleased as punch. It would be hot but we were all in our best playing clothes. Our parents also joined us in their going to town gear - with every adult and child from a 15 mile radius, however tenuous their connection to the school was.
Big Sandy - perpetual president of the P&C - would dig pits and all the boys would gather wood for fires to be lit. The ladies would gather their plates of sandwiches and cakes in the cool of the library and we girls would run to their every whim - water for the urns, scrub another pot or mug, rock the baby, talk to old ladies and give them seats in the shade.
When the fires had died, Big Sandy would put camp-pots of damper in the ashes and we would all head to the oval for various sporting events - sack races, egg-and-spoon races, 3-legged races, mother and son relays - it all happened - and prizes awarded were cheers from the crowd amidst the laughter.
At the first smoko break, the urns would have boiled and large pots of tea heralded by the grown ups, with icy cordial our treat. This was used to wash down damper and jam, cakes and slices. As children, we were expected to drop everything and attend to the older members of the community if directed, and so various of the over 70 brigade used to sit on the sidelines and grasp us to bring a refresher for tea or a bit more of that jam tart.
During the heat of the day, presentations were made - to the students, to the parents and to the teaching staff. We once presented a rather horrid teacher with the detention chair he had made our lives hell with for his two year posting as his farewell gift - the parents all applauded our generosity wildly.
Lunch was more of the previous meal with sandwiches added, and the students were generally allowed one can of softdrink and an icecream as a treat. At this point, a few yellow cans of a different persuasion used to circulate amongst the men.
Afternoons were a walk around the classroom showing off your meritorious work, plum and apple dunking (very refreshing in the heat), slabs of watermelon and finally the biggest game of cricket on the oval involving everyone - if you couldn't bat or field, you could add your power through extremely loud commentary on the sidelines.
Farewells were generally made with the dipping of the sun, as everyone suddenly remembered animals to feed or milk and dinners to be made - and as we all left waving wildly, our thoughts were not on returning in 6 weeks or the work our fathers would give us during that time - but the feeling of freedom and fun and joy.
Today, I collected 'Salina up early from school - she was one of only 10 in her class to arrive this morning and the place was a ghost town. I wish so hard that she could have the memories that I held - but we bade a glad farewell, as the outcome is the same.
6 weeks of school holidays - woo hoo!!!
This post was mainly inspired by circumstance, but the kick up the pants to actually put it down was Scribbit's December Write-Away contest - about "My Favourite Day". She has been holding monthly contests for the whole year now, and I often mean to do something about them, but this is only the second time got my act together! Anyone can enter, with entries closing December 21 her time.