He sits and waits. Cupid, his faithful reindeer lays alongside him, hooves pointing forward, antlers standing high and proud on his head (that’s Cupid not Santa). The demand to see Santa Claus this year has been extraordinary.
She waited patiently in the queue, the sound of raucous laughter could be heard coming from behind the screen that separated “Santa’s Grotto” from the rest of the building. She can hear children singing “Jingle Bells”, joining in she supposes with the man in the red suit and beard that usually represented Santa Claus, or is it Father Christmas at this time of year? Does it make a difference what I call him she thinks!
As the previous party of children departs Santa takes time to compose himself for his next visitor. He doesn’t know if it will be boys or girls or their age. It could be one family or two. It could be a mixture of friends or just a child and a parent. In years past it seemed to be less complicated. It would be parents and children – they would all line up in neat rows and wait patiently for their turn. The expectations of children may have changed over the last hundred years, but not for Santa. For him it has always been about the joy of the occasion, and the sheer belief that in this magical world you could still dream and hope and wish. He remembered the time when he would awake early, too early, and pull back the curtain in anticiptaion of seeing the wonderous sight of Santa Claus dashing actoss the sky, urging on his reindeer – “faster, higher – children are waiting”. And now the responsibiity was his to maintain that dream, to give children hope, to make them smile and to bring a moment of joy into their lives.
She enters the Grotto, along with her young cousin and the grown-ups she is with. She sees Santa sat on a chair and takes her place on the other side of the grotto, as instructed by the Elf. Behind the beard she can see him smiling and then he speaks to welcome them all.
He thinks from behind the smile “how can you possibly hear what these children’s names are when they talk so quietly and the adults are communicating through masks! He leans forward slightly so he can hear better.
She stands and walks towards him. They talk – “no” she hasn’t made a list, “if I made a list then what I got wouldn’t be a surprise would it”, she adds.
He pauses. “Christmas he says isn’t just about presents though is it” “No”, she replies – “family and friends are more important than presents”.
And in that one moment of time everything that he believed in, everything that he held dear to him about Christmas came flooding back. And he once again realised that in spite of all his misgivings the true spirit of Christmas had survived – and the young girl who stood alongside him was the living proof that it had.
Later that evening with his sleigh packed, and his reindeer tethered, he took a minute to fly again over this area in the South West of the United Kingdom. And as he looked down on South Bristol he recalled the words spoken by that little girl earlier:
“Christmas is about Family and Friends” – and once again Santa smiled.