Father Christmas, Ric Lasslett.

Not a sound was heard, not even a mouse, as the Santa sleigh crept into the loading bay at a mammoth shopping centre where Santa has been visiting for seven years. Santa crept out of his chariot, collected his sack of goods and a spotless Christmas suit, then into a special waiting room to have coffee and dress, relax a little for the ever so long line of excited waiting children.

The queue of lively kids created giggling, festive, happy go lucky entertainment for the passing shoppers. It was all fun. Santa had to sit quietly and mentally prepare for the long hours ahead. To be the magical Santa required an enormous amount of internal energy, strength and patience. The end result was the most rewarding job ever. Welcoming over 100 children each day for a Santa chat and happy photos usually went smoothly and to plan.

Sometimes you could see in the line a sorrowful little one, not a troublemaker, just someone who was sad. Maybe one with a little secret to tell Santa that no one else would ever know. Something very personal.

The day of writing this, one could see a quiet little boy being pushed along by his bossy mother. As his photo time got closer, the observant Santa became aware of the mother problem. A well-practised nod and wink to the attending elves sent a message. The elves jumped into action and assisted mother to the side of the stage area and insisted she sit and watch whilst her son met with Santa.

With a reasonable knowledge of child psychology, understanding rules and regulations, and able to read body language, Santa knew that mother had instructed the little boy what he must say to Santa. Once alone the little boy’s face lit up and he started to move quickly to Santa. He was welcomed with a warm comforting voice, open arms and a big heart-warming smile. That was what he needed. Santa looked at the long line and he knew this little boy needed extra time. This was the time someone would listen and really care about his little problem. The little boy did not need expensive presents and boring outings, he wanted his Daddy to come back home and live at home like before. He had written a letter to Santa but had no reply. Santa understood, not often is a child truly listened to by an adult who cares. It was wonderful to see the little boy smile and they exchanged a hug. This is only one little example of the many challenging roles of Santa and knowing how to handle it all.

On the other hand, Santa has the most rewarding job that one could ever dream of. He loves it dearly but this year 2020, relating to all covid restrictions, Santa has had to leave his sleigh in lockdown for a long overdue grease and oil change. Maybe some new decorations, and his little elves are out doing other holiday fun things.

This year Santa will live on happy memories of giving hope and so much joy to children. That’s what Christmas is all about. Sensational work Ric, I will come and visit you next year and have a precious photo and some magic time. “Merry Christmas”.

Written by Elaine Janes December 2020. Photo of Ric supplied.