Thank God for the film The Polar Express.
As the big month nears, pressure is starting to build – the start of my daughter’s spanish inquisition as to whether Santa is real or no real.
I am having to dust off every acting face and quick-thinking wittedness I can in an effort to try and delay the inevitable. So I had to confess to her that both myself and her Daddy would be very sad when she no longer believes (just like in the Polar Express) because she (just like her fellow classmates) are seriously questioning FC’s presence and many of her friends have already drawn their conclusions.
I said to her that the magic of Christmas goes once the belief goes (as it did with me and hubby) I am a bit of a bah humbug about Christmas and ‘the most important thing is being together’. If you can only find time to be together once a year then that’s a bit crap. It also instantly short-changes those who are not in a typical family unit and who struggle to get together or even have anyone to ‘get together with’.
Thats why I am keen to volunteer for Crisis to help those living rough in London use Christmas as a chance to get a better life away from the streets. Its not easy giving up time at Christmas, particularly if you are a parent, but providing I can get the childcare thanks to my Mum (either before or after the 25th and 26th, I think it will be brilliant and will set an example for my children who could also do it once they are old enough.
In which case Christmas really will be worthwhile in years to come, with or without FC.
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My daughter is nearly 9 and she asked me if Father Christmas is real.
I came up with the most realistic response I could think of, ‘Thank God he is real because Mummy and Daddy wouldnt be able to buy you two lots of presents. Father Christmas saves money for Mums and Dads worldwide’. Seemingly satisfied she asked no further questions and I breathed a sigh of relief inside.
Every parent wants to prolong belief in Father Christmas for as long as possible because Christmas just isnt the same afterwards.
The pressure builds every year and you find yourself getting angry with high street retailers for giving the game away. For example, I picked up the Boots gift guide the other day and found a section titled Stocking Fillers ‘great gifts to keep your little ones happy at Christmas’. It made me so angry to read this. I was then thinking up excuses to tell my daughter if she happened to stumble upon those pages.
Marketers forget that children can also read and still believe in FC.
I wish FC was a reality for everyone – Christmas just isnt the same once you discover Dad in a red dressing gown (which is how I found out). I forget what age I was……
This blog is for Unicef.
Thanks for reading.
Before bed-time my daughter and I were enjoying the Raymond Briggs book ‘Father Christmas’ – a cartoon that follows the life of an ordinary man who happens to be Father Christmas. Most of the time he is swearing about the weather and the size of chimneys and how to get into caravans. He finishes by saying ‘Happy Blooming Christmas to you too’. My daughter loves it because she finds it funny that he is so grumpy in the book and it makes sense to her that someone who shoulders the burden of delivering every child in the world their presents should be a bit grumpy about the whole Christmas thing.
She then remarked how good it was that father Christmas doesn’t die. “How do you know that?” I said, “because he isn’t human he is special human” she said. I then started to daydream that being father christmas was a bit like being summoned for jury service. I wondered if there might be a Father Christmas rota and that someone somewhere in the world receives a red and white letter congratulating them on being randomly selected to play the role of Santa this year. I wish this system did exist because it would make life easier for all us parents.
It is not the sourcing and buying of presents that is necessarily a pain in the arse, it is all the conspiracy that goes with it to make sure that the presents are hidden from view and are wrapped in special santa wrapping paper etc etc. It’s exhausting. I haven’t been able to use the loft this year either as we are having loft insulation put in. So, the top of my wardrobe resembles a game of tetris, with all the children’s presents surrounded by various different shaped boxes and toys they have already seen me buy for other children.
Add the extra complication of being somewhere else for christmas this year and then you have a real headache on your hands to ensure FC’s presents are successfully transported from one location to another (using a pick-up truck rather than a sleigh) without being noticed by eyes that are getting more and more inquisitive as time goes by. I remember the time when I realised at a young age that FC wasn’t the person I thought he was when we went to Toys R us and on leaving (with me a bit miffed that we were leaving with just mug) I noticed a suspicious looking box covered by a blanket in the back of our car. I asked what it was and dad said it was a bike for the daughter of one of his friends – not satisfied with his response, I sneaked a peek and saw the My Little Pony Paradise estate. (So my first realisation prior to the FC one was that Dad lies and because he lied it must mean the pressie is for me). So when Christmas day arrived and I opened up the present from FC and discovered it was the Pony Paradise estate I was so excited to get it that I pretended not to have seen it before so that my parents wouldn’t know that I had found out their secret and subsequently had lost faith that FC was real. I was only about 6 or 7 and I was already pretending that I believed in FC to keep my parents happy! I don’t want my daughter to do the same thing but I think that she is the kind of person who would just to keep me and her daddy happy.
We are seeing the Polar Express tomorrow at my daughter’s school. They put it up on a giant screen and the headmaster dresses up as the conductor – he even sounds a bit like Tom Hanks. I love the film, particularly at the end when Father Christmas’ sleigh disappears like the Back to the future Delorean (the Robert Zemeckis influence) and the idea of the sleigh bell ringing only for those who really believe sends shivers up my spine every time. Last year my daughter received a book about Santa with a bell attached to it as a bookmark. When she showed me the book I rang the bell and said “That’s funny it doesn’t ring” and she absolutely loved the fact that I couldn’t hear it and was shaking it madly and laughing because she could hear it and I couldn’t.
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Thanks for reading. Ten days left! See the Xmas clock