With the approach of the end of term, I used my talk in the final Sunday Service to prepare the children for a more austere Christmas than they have hitherto experienced.
“We are in the second winter of the Great War and we do not seem to have gained much; but I believe we really are in a far better position.
But there is a long time before we can beat our enemies and win a lasting and glorious peace. We shall lose and suffer much before that good time comes, and your parents and friends at home will be full of anxiety, though they will try to hide it from you, their children.
The future is dark, everything will be dear and money short, but you will know they will make great sacrifices for you. They think that the most important thing is that you should go on and they will give up other things for that; and you must help them.
There will be few parties, theatres, etc., and you must employ yourselves usefully, cheerfully and unselfishly. Help them all quietly and show that you feel for them in their many troubles. Don’t grumble if you don’t have a lot of presents, a large Xmas dinner, etc., but rather ask for the turkey and plum pudding to be sent to the soldiers or Belgians, wounded or unwounded. Think of those who are fighting for us in danger and cold…
All of you know within yourselves whether during this term you have been brave and honest and helpful. You know whether you have lied, cheated, used bad language, lost your tempers, been unkind, wasted your time and your parents’ money, given your parents pain by not writing regularly. If you feel that you have done these things, do try to cure yourselves and don’t do them again.
We masters have doubtless often been unfair, thought you were lazy or inattentive when you weren’t, pitched into you when you did not deserve it, but we are only boys grown up and it is best for us all to forgive one another at the end of term.”