Admission time. (Less fun than Hammer time but about as soul searching)
I have always had a bit of a strange understanding of Father Christmas; whilst I fervently believed in him when I was younger I was also somewhat afraid of him, or at the very least wary. I had had the idea instilled deep within me that I should not trust or talk to strangers at quite a young age, and I had indeed taken this to heart.
Every year the school I went to had that perennial favourite Father Christmas’ grotto…I don’t remember how old I was, I would hazard a guess at 6-8 ish, old enough to be newly aware of the strangeness of sitting on a chaps knee who I didn’t know. Hence the face off, there was the poor voluntary parent requesting I came and sat on his knee at one end of the dark grotto, versus one stubborn and highly suspicious child adamantly refusing to do so at the other side. It was not a good match.
Ultimately I was successful in that particular endeavour but I was unable to sway him over in favour of letting me put my hand in the boys barrel, I was hopeful for a car… and knew I’d get a comb if I dipped into the girl barrel. He was not of the persuasive type… turns out you shouldn’t mess with the ‘Jolly fat man’, so lo and behold I got the comb I had suspected… a whole set of three no less. That was the last time I ventured into the murky darkness of Father Christmas’ grotto.
I have often thought it strange that we try so hard to persuade our children not to talk to strangers and then openly push them towards the stranger in red and white. Why is he more acceptable than others? Okay, I know why, it was more a rhetorical statement, but still. After all the talk of stranger danger etc there is this one man who is exempt and in fact openly invited into your room at night by your parents. He can enter your house of his own accord. I always found that somewhat unnerving. Indeed my youngest cousin has long since aired her views that she feels uncomfortable about someone strange just waltzing into her room at night, even if she does end up rather better off in the toy department come morning. Yet she still believes in him and claims that the men pretending to be him at the Garden Centre etc are weird and definitely fake, the real Father Christmas wouldn’t be like them.
A dichotomy I just love about kids, they can spot a fake a mile off but they truly believe that they are fake’s just standing in for the real one because he is busy. That level of faith is amazing and reassuring that even in this consumerist society, in a world where bad things can and do happen, whether it be to them or people around them, they can still believe in something so completely innocent is a fantastic thing to behold.