The Harvest Festival is one of my favourite school events of the academic year. I love the build up, of listening to the children singing and practising their songs over and over. I love it when they ask to teach them to me, to practice their lines, their part in such a beautiful assembly. An assembly with such an important message, about giving and thinking of others.
The Harvest Festival takes me back to my childhood. It takes me back to the church school that I attended for my primary education. I can remember how grand and special our church felt, how small it made me feel as I sat their with my bright, blonde hair, having donated a couple of tins of soup, some baked beans and some rice. I was right about the church, years later, Matt and I were married there.
I remember singing the lovely songs about crops, God, giving to others and looking after each other. I remember the warmth in my heart. I remember feeling kind, happy to have helped and like it just made sense to pull together, so that everyone feels like they are cared about.
I remember passing the baton of my youth to Noah a few years ago. He started school and it all became his turn. The Harvest Festival was the first event I went to after I lost my first child to education. I can recall the way that my eyes welled up when I saw him walk in with his class. My little boy who smiled his biggest one for me. His little legs shuffled along to make enough room for everyone and I wanted to scoop him up in my arms and hold on to him in disbelief that this would be his life now. His face locked on to me in the crowd and he sang so beautifully, with such care.
I remember saying to him once (about Harvest, about life) that if we had nothing in the world to offer someone in need, absolutely nothing of value… we always had kindness. I hope that he remembers that still. I hope that he is learning something from these songs. Like I did. I hope that they both do…
Of course, this year I lost my second child to education. It was Ellenah’s first Harvest Festival. Honestly, If I ever manage to forget her singing ‘You Can Pick A little Bean, It’s Harvest Time You Know…’ I will be very surprised!
Again, I saw her walk in with her class and shuffle along to make enough room on the stage. She searched for my face in the crowd, found me and locked her eyes and pretty, little smile on to me. It wouldn’t have been hard, I was standing up, in the second to back row, waving vigorously until we found each other.
I felt the familiar sting of tears and my cheeks were mildly twitching to prevent me from full on sobbing on the mama next to me’s shoulder because my daughter is just so lovely.
And then she started to sing and sign the cutest actions with her arms. She looked so happy, so pleased to sing in front of everyone. I think my heart grew a little more, if that’s even possible.
Unfortunately, I only managed to see one performance from her and never did manage to see her singing the song about picking a little bean. The different classes were rotated on and off the stage and unfortunately, my short little beauty was behind a bunch of older, taller kids. The most I could see was the top of her head. It was quite sad. It made me feel flat all day, a tiny bit upset, selfishly.
Harvest Festival was tiered between classes and stages so Noah’s group was small. It was full of song and I had managed to move into a seat closer, to see him sing at the front. It was wonderful. His class managed to rewrite and perform ‘I Will Survive’ relevant to Harvest and it was really good, It completely picked me up. And just because he is a little bigger and things like this have become more normal, it doesn’t mean that I don’t get the prickle of emotion behind my eyes anymore. I absolutely do. I think that I always will!
Today’s Harvest Festival might not have been completely perfect but you know, the whole reason that it is so special, so necessary, is because life isn’t. Sometimes the world and the people in it need a little help from their friends and today, my favourite people in the world helped make a little difference.
This makes me happy!