Term 4 attacks

Term 4. Eek. During the September break I think “Term 4” and I little shudder rattles me from the bottom up. After that, every time I look up to breathe, I shudder again. I don’t stop shuddering until around mid-February.

Term 1 is bad, but it eases off into terms 2 and 3, which are manageable. But term 4, well, it just looms darkly, and nothing the children bring home from school reassures me that it is not as bad as I always make it out to be.

We have Christmas concerts to contend with. Not just one per child, but one per activity. And end-of-year parties – one per activity and one per class. Each activity, party and concert brings with it a flurry of paper, stupendous diary management feats and requests for dribbles of cash that eat into the Christmas budget.

Our family has now also just entered exam territory, which brings a whole new zing to the already tense atmosphere of the ghastly final term of each year. And just yesterday I had to fill out the stationery form and seal – with a handsome amount of lolly - my children’s school stationery needs for next year.

Market day and Halloween (even though I don’t “do” Halloween) also fall in this period.

I was once given a gift voucher to see an astrologer for an in-depth analysis of my astrological personality and a peek into my near future. She said that if I was planning to have another baby, March would be the best time for me to conceive.

This is something I already knew, having conceived in March twice. Sex in March has the disasterous consequence birth during the summer holidays.  I made a vow never ever to get into bed with Number One in March again. March is our month of abstinence. The astrologer was a little taken aback when I snorted at her suggestion of March nookie.

So, on top of all the usual term four school stuff, I have to organise 2 birthday parties way in advance in such a way that friends critical to the perceived success of the party are in town at that time.  

Then there’s Christmas, of course, with all its many and varied concomitant expectations: family and friends from up-country and out-of-the-country who want to pop in for visits (at best) and park off for 2 weeks (at worst). There is Christmas dinner to plan, cater and pay for. There are Christmas gifts to plan and buy or make and bake. I spend at least 24 hours of December wrapping gifts and – a day later – folding the same paper flat for the recycling bin. Pointless and mad.

There are people who live 2 streets away whom we never manage to see during the year and with whom we have made steadfast arrangements to braai this December, come hell or high water. There are charitable things one should be doing. There are Christmas extravaganzas on at the theatre which one must see. Uurrggghh.

Each year I try to whittle down the number of things to do in the 4th term but I never manage. I am all for dispensing with Christmas but the thought appals and horrifies Number 2 and 3. Birthdays are non-negotiable. I prefer not to dispense with charity or friends. So what goes?

Sanity. That’s what. By 7 January, when the last summer birthday is done and dusted, I am no longer shuddering. I am a gibbering wreck.

Does the end of the year make you shudder in horror?

Read more by Karin Schimke
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