– simultaneously posted here and on my other blog

4 months, 1 week & 4 days into Daddyhood

I’ve been thinking about Christmas – like you do at this time of the year. Specifically I’ve been thinking about what it meant for me as a child, what I believed (in), etc. I remember being so excited! To the point where, from about a fortnight before the 25th I was counting down the days several times a day… “Only nine more whole days to go after today!” – etc. And a couple of days before… I was literally beside myself!

But what did I believe this most wonderful time of the year was all about? Who was Father Christmas and what did he do? And how did he do it? Because it was always “Father Christmas” for me, by the way – none of your “Santa Clause” or such rubbish. Don’t ask me why, because I couldn’t tell you – I reckon it had something to do with “Santa Clause” sounding too American or something, but I couldn’t say for certain. In truth, it was probably pretty much just one of those childish “it just is” kind of beliefs…

Speaking of such things… before I get onto trying to figure out when I definitely believed Father Christmas existed and when I didn’t and what happened in between, I want to go back to my previous questions… Firstly: “Who was Father Christmas?” – well I think I pretty much believed he was what we all (pretty much) think of him as – you know, the Coca Cola advert Santa – and I use the term “Santa” now, because, let’s face it, the “common” perception of this mythical (or mythical-ised) saint is pretty Americanised. But I digress… Who (in my childhood perception) was he? Well… he was a man (obviously) of a “certain age,” who had a long, snowy white beard, wore a red, white-fur trimmed coat and… well, those were, I think, pretty much the only certainties. There were, of course, the reindeer, the sleigh, the elves, the living at the North Pole (or thereabouts) – and I’m pretty sure he had a wife (known (obviously) as “Mrs Christmas”)… but I don’t think I thought about this superfluous stuff very much.

So onto the next question…

What did he do? He delivered presents – again, obviously. But (third question) how did he do it? He rode around – sorry, flew around – on his sleigh, went down folks’ chimneys and… erm… delivered them. But what about folks who didn’t have chimneys (an increasingly common occurrence)? Well obviously he was magic (he had a flying sleigh, didn’t he?), so he was able to temporarily turn himself (and all the presents) into smoke and enter each house any old way he pleased (I don’t think I ever stopped to consider the potentially sinister aspect of believing such a thing!)… and before you ask, he was able to get around all the houses in the world in one night because he traveled at the speed of light (I seem to recall explaining this to my two years older brother once)… or there were numerous Father Christmases… or he could exists in many places at once, like God… (I don’t think I ever settled on which of these I thought it was – maybe a combination of all three?)…

So… we’ve settled the questions of who he was and what he did and how he did it… but why? Why did this infinitely benevolent, unfailingly cheerful old man (who never, ever aged, by the way (not that it ever occurred to me that he might)) do what he did? I don’t mean some job-interview-type “What was his motivation?” – but rather more of a “Why do we need him?”… and I don’t mean this in a deeply philosophical sense, like, “Why does society need Father Christmas?” (I didn’t think that deeply!)… but rather… since I think I came to realise quite soon that presents did not magically appear – they were not created by elves and then delivered to all the good children of the world… and since adults also got presents… and since I therefore realised (I can’t remember how far back) that presents were bought and wrapped by Mum & Dad, Nana & Grandad, etc… what was Father Christmas actually for? Did Mum & Dad, Nana & Grandad, etc, buy and wrap the presents, give them to Father Christmas, who then gave them back again at the appointed date? What would be the point of this? Well you know what? – and here’s where we touch upon something which is infused throughout the magic of childhood, and more specifically a child’s special relationship with Christmas… I didn’t think about it! I didn’t worry about it! Something happened, involving Father Christmas, the various people I got presents off (and gave presents to), and so on and so forth, and the specifics, the details, of how and why and when, didn’t matter! Furthermore, as a child, I was able to wholeheartedly believe in the magic – the wonderful, beautiful, irrational magic – without needing or wanting or even particularly trying to explain it!

So when did I stop believing in Father Christmas? Well… you know… I don’t think I ever did! I think what I believed in, as a child (which was not logical or rational, and didn’t make any sense), still exists… but as I became an adult, it drifted to the periphery of my consciousness… I now have a four month old child. A child who I hope to infuse, in the coming years, with that same Christmas magic that I had. And hopefully then some of it will come drifting back to me… 🙂