5 days in the life of

FATHER CHRISTMAS

Share
MONDAY: Another year, another children's Christmas party. I arrive to find Year 1 still engrossed in Raymond Briggs's cartoon about me, Father Christmas.

Change in side room, window with full view to the street. Costume feels as if it has not been washed since I and other Santas wore it last year. It's a cold day but the nylon outfit and beard, with elastic which digs into my ears, start to make me sweat. Realise, too late, that when I grabbed the black boots out of the car I took one of my wife's wellies. Result: two left boots. Hope nobody notices. Wait in corridor for my cue - jingling bells. Time for "Ho, ho, ho! Hello, everyone, I've just come from Lapland, my reindeer are outside. Did you hear them?"

The teachers call out their names and up they come: 70 children in 10 minutes. Hand them each a gift from a sack. No time for a chat. Probably a good thing since, when one boy tells me he wants a Playmobil pirate ship, I have a strong sense from his teacher that he will not be getting one - folks on the dole maybe.

Pick up the Raymond Briggstheme and wish them all a "blooming merry Christmas" - which they love, a sign, surely, that I am the genuine article - and I am off. Back into the side room, just in time to change and head off to pick up own children. Rush out, then stop: I left the outfit hanging on the back of the door facing the road. All the children will see it when they stream out. Race back, find a black bin-liner and cover costume. Phew. Secret safe for a while longer.

TUESDAY: Another school. My wife's class. Walk into the school office and introduce myself: "Hello, I'm Father Christmas." They don't bat an eyelid - the rest of the year if a stranger walked in claiming to be Santa they would call the police. Awestruck by the way my wife and a colleague are controlling and entertaining 70 or so five- and six-year-olds. Goes well. Every one of them comes and puts their arms round me. Feel oddly emotional. Whatever we think - and after 35 embraces my beard has slipped at an angle across my chin - for them I'm a wondrous figure.

Have the thought that being FC is the opposite of being a religious leader. They believe in me; I am the one who does not believe. On the way back to my sleigh I hug Mrs Blackhurst. One of the children mentions to the head how strange it was that Mrs Blackhurst seemed to know Father Christmas.

WEDNESDAY: Music in the road just as the children are going to bed. The Round Table is doing its pre-Christmas fund-raiser. Before we can stop them they charge out in their nightclothes. They stand, transfixed, as Santa waves from a truck. Our four-year-old looks pensive, then pronounces: "It's not the real one, he's got black hair." It's true, Santa has jet- black hair. On such incidentals do careers stand or fall.

THURSDAY: My wife tells me our nine-year-old is still a believer. We are going to my parents' for Christmas and he wants to know how Santa will know where he is.

I am shocked: in front of him we have been offhand about the great man. Makes you wonder what goes on in their heads: he must know that nobody can visit so many homes in such a short time. Some bright spark on the Internet has calculated there are 2 billion children in the world but since Santa tends not to go to Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Buddhist households that reduces his workload to 15 per cent of the total, or 378 million. Reckon on a world average of 3.5 children per household and that is 91.8 million homes. To cover all those in 31 hours - thanks to different time zones, that is how long he has got - FC's sleigh must move at 650 miles per second and be capable of carrying 321,300 tonnes of toys, assuming each child receives nothing heavier than a medium-sized Lego set. On land, reindeer can pull no more than 300lb, so Santa needs 214,200 of the beasts.

FRIDAY: Still grappling with the magnitude of my persona, I notice that a Sheffield University professor has come up with the notion that Santa Claus was a junkie, or at least a figment of the crazed imaginations of people eatingmagic mushrooms, which made them believe humans could fly. A colleague brings me down to earth. His son is a firm disciple but is puzzled as to how Santa gets back up the chimney. That's more like it. Three more days to go, then the real work begins ...

Chris Blackhurst is one of Santa's thousands of helpers.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Deputy Editor: i’s Review of the Year

Andrew Webster
RIP Voicemail?  

Voicemail has got me out of some tight corners, so let's not abandon it

Simon Kelner
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all