Adam Bird


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Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Giving Santa the Sack

Christmas Presents

Lying in bed, trying to keep your eyes and ears open for the noise of reindeer and the falling of soot coming down the chimney, a sense of excitement known later on in life as butterflies. You've written a letter, left some food and drink for Rudolph and his friends. More importantly you've spent the last three hundred and sixty five days being as good a boy as you could possibly be and this was your just reward.

You'd succumb finally, but your sleep would be shallow, the slightest creak or squeak and you'd awake again, alert and ready to catch the man with the beard and his sack full of toys. You'd prepared your questions and readied your shoes just in case he asked you to come along with him, just like in the movie. But you realise it was nothing, your baby sister shuffling in the room next door.

Back again, into the land of fitful dreams only to wake at the first signs of dawn. Living in town there was no cock crowing but you'd sit staring at the alarm clock as it passes time slowly by. Your heart sinks as you know you've missed him. But your spirits immediately lift as you wildy imagine the mounds of boxes that are sitting beneath you in the lounge below your bed - all with your name written, from Santa.

Give up waiting. It MUST be getting up time now. You remember your Dad. Bah Humbug. He's not a morning person at the best of times. No getting up before eight he said. Tapping on the wall, trying to wake up your sister. She cannot be sleeping. Father Christmas has been! If we are both awake, Dad cannot say no. She hears, you rendezvous in the hall. "shall we knock? You do it" you say, knowing that your not going to be the one in trouble. "Go away" comes the sound of Scrooge from within. Your heart sinks, but the door opens. Mum comes out. She's not like Dad. She likes Christmas! You make your way downstairs, but she calls you back "Dressing gown, slippers and brush your teeth", prolonging the agony. "We can't open anything till Dad wakes up anyway!"

What seems like an hour later, you're downstairs, you and your baby sister, both by the lounge door, both wanting to be the first one in. Both wanting to have the biggest pile of toys, both wanting different things. The door opens, in you go, the presents, the colour, the crumbs on the floor. Father Christmas has been! He had made a mess, and the carrots, are gone! And like a whirlwind, you and your sister disappear amongst a maelstrom of paper, boxes and excitement. It's Christmas.

It's funny. Looking back at Christmas as a child and remembering the magical times, the carefree and innocent times you cannot help but wish you were back there again! Being a father of a three year old boy I am in some way living my life all over again, this time through his eyes, it makes me as a parent more determined to make sure that his Christmas memories are as magical as mine are.

Therefore, as I learnt last week that due to reasons of faith my cousin wouldn't be teaching their children about Father Christmas, that he doesn't exist and that the gifts purchased were already lying in wait underneath the Christmas tree hit me with some surprise!  As the days have passed and Christmas gets closer, surprise has turned into sadness. Sadness for the circumstances behind the decision and sadness for the children, missing out on one of society's greatest gifts - imagination.

We used to have long debates and discussions about logistics, how was it possible that this man got from house to house, all the houses, in the entire world, which was to the moon and back, all in one night! How did he get the presents under Aunties Christmas tree when she didn't have a chimney. What about Nanny Bird, why do we go around her house and give her presents on Christmas Eve instead of letting Father Christmas do it. We fed upon a frenzy of thought, conspiracy and as we grew older and more wise to the ways of the world, our thoughts turned not to how we could meet Father Christmas but how we could expose the people behind him, namely my parents, leading eventually to the end of the dream, a dark crevice in our kitchen behind the washing machine. Santa's elusive Toy Making factory was all but a hoax.

Whatever your faith, the myth of Father Christmas is known to all and yes, commercialisation has created a monster, but that is for the adults to see through the marketing and false messaging, leave them to talk about where it all went wrong. Most of the time Christmas is an anti-climax and doesn't meet the hype, certainly was until Oliver was old enough to start believing and making Christmas fun for us again. 

By the age of ten most of us all know, whether we choose to believe it or not that Christmas is a time of celebration, of the birth of Jesus Christ. If you are a person of faith, you can still let your child enjoy life and educate them on the lives you have decided to lead. I may be sitting on the religious fence, but one thing that I do believe in, children should be children and given room for expression, imagination and magical memories that will last them a lifetime.
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