Santa's calling card

Share
Related Topics
I WOKE up in the small hours, in the midst of a seasonal nightmare. Christmas trees were falling down on top of me. I lay pondering what this might mean. At a recent drinks party, the tree had fallen down not once but twice. At home, my own Christmas tree had taken two days to secure.

In the past, family rows broke out when the fairy lights refused to work properly. Now, in the age of chopped-off, rootless Christmas trees, they seem to have no sense of stability. Even those expensive metal gadgets you buy to secure them in buckets take a lot of work.

I decided, at the rather glum hour of 2am, that this was a genuinely recessionary sort of Christmas tree, expressing the fears of economic collapse, disaster lurking beneath the tinsel. The problem solved, I drifted into half-sleep . . .

And then there was a substantial bump on the roof, followed by something rather scratchy falling down the chimney. My first thought was that it must be one of the plump white doves from my neighbour's garden. But if the dove had fallen down into the sitting-room and was flapping around, it was going to set off the burglar alarm, so I went downstairs in the dark.

There, in the grate, was indeed a white, but oddly fluorescent object - not a dove, but a letter. The paper had a sparkly border to it, as if inspired by a snowflake. It was a letter. This is what it said:

Dear Parents,

I'm making a swift trip from the North Pole to selected homes to prepare the ground for Christmases to come. I have been alarmed by my postbag this year. Perhaps your children are watching too many television commercials. They are asking me for increasingly extravagant presents which, in the current chilly climate, I simply cannot guarantee to provide. I am digging into my resources this year and, even though they are quite capacious, I am feeling stretched. It cannot go on.

First, some practicalities. Please tell your children that batteries freeze in Arctic conditions. I don't want to disappoint them for this year, but certainly for next year Game Boys and whatever the latest electronic fad turns out to be are things that parents should provide, not me.

My job, laid down over generations of children, by custom and practice, is to provide traditional, classic presents, starting with chocolate money, tangerines and nuts and working upwards through the odd cuddly toy, jigsaw, crayons, pens, paintboxes, colouring books, and on to things such as winter warmers - gloves, scarves, socks, bobbly hats.

I quite like silly toys - spiders that slide down windows, toy guns that make an awful lot of noise, and rattles. I'm quite happy, too, for each child of seven and under to have one nice big toy from me. Perhaps roller skates, a toy pram, or a bicycle.

I am also about to lobby the European Commission for a standard Christmas stocking. There is far too much variation in size, not just country by country, but home by home. I cannot be expected to fill enormous sacks . . . Think about it, it deprives children elsewhere.

I'm proposing a standard Wellington boot size, based on the size 4 shoe (37 continental size), which is about correct, because I always think that this is the borderline between children's sizes and the adult world.

I will also propose that after the age of seven European parents should stand in for me. Attending the odd school Christmas party this year, I have noticed that children above that age most certainly doubt my existence.

Please write to me, c/o PO Box SC, North Pole, with your views, for my aim in life is, after all, to bring pleasure once a year and, however recession- struck, I remain your seasonal servant,

Father Christmas

I read the letter twice and realised that I had not even needed to turn on the light. The Christmas tree recession dream did not recur. When I got up in the morning, I immediately resolved to replace my children's pillowcases with restrained stockings.

When I went downstairs there was no letter but there was a little pool of water on the hearth. I thought I had better pass this letter on because we all like Father Christmas, don't we?

React Now

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

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, Brokerage)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

UNIX Application Support Analyst- Support, UNIX, London

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Application Support Analyst-...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US  

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Robert Fisk
 

Next they'll say an independent Scotland can't use British clouds...

Mark Steel
Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention