And so this is Christmas - Arrrrrrrgh!!
Torbin, Headwax and Maisy Thripp visit Santa Claus anually to ask for one thing and one thing only, a box full of oily things.
Lashing's of fun for the whole family
I've finished up this years tour of duty as Santa and I can tell you, four weeks is enough. As I mention below, 99% of children are wonderful but you're mind and mouth turn to jelly...and it's bloody hot in that suit. I get a whole gamut of emotions and people sitting with Santa. The sullen teenagers who grudgingly pose for their `last' picture with Santa for Mum. (One young man who thought himself a bit of a big tough bloke compared to his other family members made a comment about how small Santa was compared to him. Well I was sitting down and I couldn't resist. I slowly stood up and towered over him, and I am a large bloke and larger in costume, saying `Ohhh I don't think I'm that small.' He looked up at me with a bit of suprise and respect and agreed).
The Horror....the horror.
I get the terrified little boys and girls begging and screaming to be taken away from me. One little girl this year was so terrified of Santa, I'm sure I've caused a permanant trauma within her. She went ballistic with screams and yelling, begging her Daddy to take her away. Dad was a bit of a toughie and seemed determined to put her on my lap but she was having nothing of that. I was telling him `If she doesn't want to that's fine, there's always next year'. I was glad he laid off her. I was getting scared of her. Most of the children of course are there to have their photo taken with Santa and it's a family ritual for many to have a photo with Santa at David Jones. It can be stressful for some of the kids, they're expected to perform to their parents expectations. I've lost count of the amount of times I've heard the line `Smile properly!' or `That's not your real smile'. `Look natural', `Don't smile like that,' `C'mon now, give us a proper smile'. Something about having a photo with Santa turns many parents into Stage Mother's from hell.
For the second year I've had a visit from a profoundly disabled girl in a wheelchair called Rachael. The visit went much better this year. It took almost an hour to get her to see Santa last time as she went from screaming `NOOOOOO!' in ear peircing decibels to being soft and tender toward Santa. I felt for her and her parents. Her mother seemed to have so much patience with her. This year it seemed to take about twenty minutes to half an hour to get her to me. It's difficult with her because she seems to have extreme mood swings, coupled with being unable to totally control her arms and legs. Santa has red cloth blocks for people to sit on and be photographed. She would move from one of these blocks to another toward me, gaining confidence, flailing her arms and legs about, screaming and purring from one moment to the next. I've had some experience with children like this and I've learnt that infinite patience and having a sense of calmness about you is the only way to deal with the situation.
Strange and Mighty Toys
The big toy request this year was for `Hot Wheels'. The updated version of matchbox cars. Thomas the Tank engine is very big among boys. Yugio cards, tamagotchi, ipods and Nintendo DS is huge. (I've even bought one for my own Dad) For the girls it's Pixel Chix, Bratz (I personally hate the Bratz dolls. They should just call them `My little Street walker' and come with a `Hep-Daddy' pimp doll accessory). `My little pony' was asked for a lot this year as well as `Baby Alive'(as opposed to `Baby Dead' or `Mummy's little Stillborn'). Strangely, you could also buy a remote controlled car for your Baby Alive to sit in. Not a stroller or pram, but a car that looked a bit like an older model VW coupe. Very odd.
What makes it worthwhile
The best though are the little girls and boys with sparkling clear eyes and huge smiles who adore Santa. It's a tough heart that can't be melted by such unconditional love and it makes the job so worthwhile...and not a job. They come up to Santa, faces upturned and beaming, some of them already telling me what they want for Christmas before they've gotten their own name out. And when they're on Santa's lap you feel they'd be happy to stay there forever. They tell Santa about how good they've been and what they've done through the year and stories about what their Daddy did or what they did with Daddy. Sporting accomplishments, where they're going on holidays or how naughty their baby brother is. I had a good chuckle at two brothers, one older than the other, who came to see me. The older brother was enjoying telling Santa how naughty his brother was before I'd even asked. I felt sorry for the poor little tyke though. There he was sitting on my lap trying to tell me what he wanted for Christmas and his brother is sitting on my other knee gleefully telling me his little brother wants `Barby' dolls for christmas. I had to get the poor little kid to whisper into Santa's ear what he wanted (for the record it was a remote controlled car). His big brother wasn't naughty but he was a bit of rascal.
It's time to go now. I've got to get my own presents wrapped before I head off up to the Bay to join my own family. I hope you all have a safe, happy and Merry Yaksmas, eat heaps of lollies and cake, be patient with horrid family members, get lots of good pressies and guzzle down a mighty load of Egg Nogg.