Four years ago, I met the real Santa. He was at Santaland, in the Macy’s department store in New York. It had to be him – he had a real beard and everything. At the very least, it was an extremely close relative, like a brother or a nephew or a fifth cousin once removed.
Sprog 1 was five at the time. She was totally blitzed. I think that’s what convinced me he was the real deal. She sensed his special aura.
Santaland was pretty awesome too. There were model trains, dancing teddy bears and singing trees to entertain the hordes as we queued to see the man in red. Americans don’t do anything by half measures.
The look on Sprog 1’s face when she was finally ushered into Santa’s tiny faux living room was priceless. She was giddy with joy. She raced over, climbed onto a step at his feet and stood whispering to him for a few moments as we cajoled her little sister to get a bit closer.
Santa made such a big deal of Sprog 1, they chatted like old friends. He recalled seeing her the year before, asked if she’d been a good girl in the meantime.
When it was photo time, she clambered straight onto his lap and wrapped her arms around him in adoration. No one, not even her Pop, has ever received that level of loving attention from Sprog 1. It was startling to witness, but incredibly sweet at the same time.
I was thinking she’d be a total cynic about the Santa Claus thing. She’d certainly been asking lots of probing questions in the lead-up to our visit. But Real Santa was so impressive – he had chubby cheeks, twinkling eyes and a gentle manner that made you feel like he had all the time in the world to spend with you.
I was mildly panicked afterwards, because she asked him for a Barbie doll, totally out of the blue. What’s the parental etiquette in such circumstances? If a toy is specifically requested in the presence of Santa, is it required to materialise on Christmas Day?
Yes, yes, I know, if he was the real Santa, it should’ve been his problem, not mine. But everyone knows there are far too many little girls and boys in the world these days for him to gift personally. Despite the explanation Arthur Christmas so entertainingly offered.
I’m facing similar gift angst again this year. A bug smasher was requested last weekend during our annual Santa photo op. And I find myself wondering again: if a toy is specifically requested in the presence of Santa, is it required to materialise on Christmas Day?
Yes. Absolutely! Even if you want to transition her belief in Santa to an ‘understanding’ you all share so the big reveal isn’t as traumatic when it comes, the rules of the game are you ask ‘Santa’ and pending subsequent conversations with your parents ‘he’ delivers. I’m very clear on all if this Santa stuff, if you need a more in depth exposition of the ‘understanding’ let me know.