Wasn’t it magical when you believed in Santa Claus? Hanging up your stocking on Christmas Eve, leaving out a mince pie for the jolly fat man and a carrot for Rudolph.
But for every excited child, there’s an exhausted anxious parent hoping they can recreate the Christmas magic for their little ones. My parents used to tell the story of the year they came home from a Christmas Eve party in the wee hours of the morning and realized they hadn’t wrapped the presents yet. Having finally filled the stockings and crawled into bed at 4am, they were immediately greeted with cries of “He’s been! He’s been!” and groggily watched on as all their careful wrapping was shredded and discarded.
I grew up on a small island in the South Pacific, and my earliest memory of Santa is of him arriving on a speedboat and sitting on the beach drinking his can of beer via a straw poking through his beard. It didn’t take me long to work out this wasn’t the real Santa, but I still believed that the real deal was hard at work in the North Pole getting all my presents ready.
Nowadays, my kids are growing up in the bustling metropolis of Hong Kong, where Santa arrives via helicopter at the annual Christmas fete. We would patiently stand in line for three hours in a city centre mall to have our 30-seconds of face time with good old Saint Nick, in order to send festive photos back home to the grandparents.
But, at least our mall Santa smiles nicely for photos and dutifully asks the kids what they would like for Christmas… unlike a recent story I read in a British newspaper about a mall Santa upsetting all the kids who sat on his knee by breaking the news that Santa was in fact not real at all. The horror! I hope to keep the magic of Santa Claus alive for my kids for many more years to come.
Do you remember your first encounter with Santa Claus? What’s your Santa story?