When I was a child, Santa Claus used to come to my local village hall complete with reindeer (whose coats are apparently made of felt, who knew?)
Anyway, the year was 1993. I stood in the long queue, excitedly hopping from one foot to the other, anticipating the conversation I would have with Santa. I had so many questions. Does Rudolph’s nose turn off or is it constantly on? And if so, is there a way to dim it for oncoming traffic? You know, all the questions a normal six year old would want to ask Santa.
When I finally reached the top of the queue, I was ushered over to ole St. Nicholas himself by an elf that was suspiciously tall and looked a lot like the lady who worked in our post office. I was perched on Santa’s knee.
‘And what’s your name?’ he asked jovially. Hmm, I thought, that voice is familiar. As I turned my face to his (in what is now a slow-motion cinematic memory) I clapped eyes on…..
Yes, Santa was my father. Or my father was Santa. In those seconds that felt like a lifetime of betrayal, I matured more than any six year old ever should. I realised it all: This is why I was never allowed in his shed. It was probably full of disgruntled elves. This is why he always refused to diet and why he had an aversion to sun-holidays. I sat in a stony silence. Any other six year old would have been jubilant to realise the she was the daughter of the world’s most popular fat guy, but the cold sting of betrayal hit me hard.
He repeated ‘and what’s your name?’ albeit a little more awkwardly this time.
Oh I’ll play along, I thought scornfully, but you won’t get away with this.
As I played the part of oblivious child and took my yoyo with grace, my friend came rushing up to me.
‘DID YOU SEE-‘ she began, so excited she was positively giddy.
‘Yes. I know. My Dad is Santa Claus.’
‘You are so lucky. I can’t believe it. I would give anything for my dad to be Santa.’
I thought about this. Maybe it would have its benefits. I mean, surely I didn’t have to spend three hours negotiating my Santa letter anymore. I had a direct line. And maybe, just maybe, his union might order a ‘bring your daughter to work day’ which would be, let’s face it, AMAZING. I mean, sure, I’d have to behave my self a lot more, as it would now be much easier to find my self on the naughty list, but I was sure that the benefits would outweigh the drawbacks.
Years later, I still haven’t told him I know. When he tells me that he’s going to the pub on Christmas Eve, I know better. And when he stocks up on mince pies, I know it’s just fuel for a very long journey. And when he says that he doesn’t know what the capital of Denmark is when we watch quiz shows, I often murmur ‘sure you don’t know, it’s not like you’ve never been there before. Pfft.’
So, even though my childhood was built on lies, it’s pretty cool that I’m a member of the Santa dynasty. You could say we’re one of the most powerful families in the world but I don’t wanna brag. I just want to be normal. Although if I ever get access to one of his flying reindeer, I’m taking that SOB to Hawaii for sure.