Monday, December 19, 2011



He was the mysterious figure in red that sat in the shadows of Christmas. Though I’d never seen him face to face, never hid behind the living room door to watch in amazement as his black booted feet descended from the netherworld of chimney darkness to land like raven feathers on the hearth, still I believed without question in his solid reality. He knew what I wanted for Christmas, always. I didn’t need to write him a letter. I didn’t need to share my requests with my parents, something that for some reason I never quite understood, tended to cause them a bit of consternation.

Why did they need to know what I wanted?

Santa knew.

Each year we would make the annual pilgrimage to visit the department store Santas, but being blessed with an imagination that was liberally sprinkled with a healthy dose of suspicion, no one could convince me those fellows were real. There were far too many of them for one thing. And it was a rare occurrence when even one of those chaps remotely resembled the genuine article. Too baby-faced and whiskerless, with beards that tied behind their ears. Or too bombastic and patronizing, lacking even the remotest twinkle in the eye that the real Santa Claus would most certainly have. Oh I still stood shoulder to shoulder with other children my age, as we wound our way through the sugar plum forests and candy cane villages of the toy departments in local stores, waiting my turn to relate to these red-suited impostors the things I most wanted for Christmas. It was a ritual not without amusement and I participated in the festivities quite willingly. But I knew, yes I did, that the actual Santa could only be seen in the silver light of Christmas Eve.

So every year, I would endeavour to stay awake and catch the old elf at his work. I would leave out the cookies and milk for his refreshment and toddle off to bed as usual, never hinting at my plans for a sleepless night.

Snuggled under blankets, eyes wide and heart thumping, I would lie awake in the darkness, my little ears tuned for the sound of sleigh bells, staring, unblinking, at the vertical crack of my bedroom door.

The longer I lay there the more terrified I’d become.

What would I say to him when we met?

Would he catch a glimpse of me and instantaneously evaporate into mist, leaving me stunned and present-less?

Or would he pack me off to the North Pole where I would become a toymaking elf, always wearing green, never to return?

Big thoughts for a little girl.

As the night grew frosty and still as the grave, I would strain to hear the hoof beats of reindeer from up above on my roof, my little body rigid with the increasing terror of my vigil.





And then - how suddenly it always seemed- the pale pink light of a winter dawn would nudge me awake. Awake to Christmas morn! And I would run, slipperless, down the hallway to the living room door and throw it open wide. There would be the Christmas tree shining and bright, almost laughing as it presided over a room full of presents.

The cookies were eaten, yes there were the crumbs!

The milk was drained from the glass!

Later on Christmas Day, when I was sitting amongst my new books and dolls, feeling richer than Croesus, it would hit me. I’d missed him again. Drat. Well, there was always next year, I’d say to myself. Always another chance.

But next year came and all the years after that, and still, ever tricksy, he eluded me.

But perhaps..... just perhaps....with Edward’s help....this year...

One never knows.

Now, I ask you.
Do you blame me for wishing myself far, far away
from this obviously spurious department store Santa?


  1. No child who really believes in Santa is fooled by the "helpers", the imposters! But every now and then, if you had been very, very good, the REAL Santa would be spotted in the biggest department store, or maybe the Christmas tree lot, or in the Christmas parade in town, and you would recognize him with his real whiskers, and his flowing pure white hair, and his smile that was so happy to see you and you would definitely believe for one more year!

    Does Edward believe in Santa too?

  2. Hello Pamela

    You have brought me back to childhood memories and, like you, eyes wide open beneath the covers, convinced I would stay awake and catch him. I love your picture on young Santa's knee. Were you terribly disappointed when you found out the truth?
    I hope Edward can stay awake and watch

    Helen xx

  3. We were trying to stay awake in simpatico Pamela... although at opposite ends of the world... Funny, I never caught a glimpse either... Shall ry harder this year...
    Have a festive weekend... and rest up for our vigil next weekend... xv

  4. Pamela - A little secret. The one time of the year when PON's drop their guard and fall deep, deep, asleep is when Pere Noel comes down the chimney. In other words don't look to Edward for help. Now as for the cookies ....

  5. My sisters and I have the strangest of Father Christmas photographs...all black and white, stern-faced in our duffle coats. Totally joyless! I'm with you Pamela...imposters!

  6. He knows, he absolutely knows the minute you close your eyes and drift of into the land of nod that that is the time to come and he so quick that he will be gone before Edward can wake you. But who knows this just might just be the year! xx Merry Christmas

  7. Pamela,

    Once again your words weave and bring me back to happy memories. I was the same way, waiting for santa and yet a little afraid, then waiting anf hopeing and thinking. And then morning!

    What a beautiful tale and something to brighten a dreary day! Thank you for sharing.


  8. I never thought much of those department store Santas as a kid. I always eyed them with suspicion. Great Post!

  9. My father used to tell the story of how he and his brother determined to stay awake for Santa Claus. They managed it and when Santa entered their bedroom and said, "Where's yer stockins?" They were so terrified they hid their heads under the blankets and shouted, "they're over there mister."

  10. I heard the sleigh bells, I can never forget them. Always wondered how he got round all the world in one night though.

  11. Well Pamela,
    I am hoping against hope that I see him this year but, I'm not holding my breath !! He's a clever one that Santa Claus. ' He know's when you are sleeping, he know's when you're awake' !
    We are all great believers in our family and, he never fails us.
    I can't wait to see what he brings me.
    Try to keep awake this year Pamela. XXXX

  12. What wonderful memories you brought back here Pam.
    I hope you have a wondrous Christmas!

  13. Somewhere in my heart, I still the Christmas Spirit as Pere Noel...and even now I wake up and run to the tree. O Happy Day! It's Christmas once again! Sweet post, Pamela!

  14. I truly believed in Santa Claus, and still do! Hope his magic continues to delight all children and children-at-heart, this Christmas!

  15. Department store Santa's are creepy...but you look sweet in your light blue coat and bonnet...:-)

    Yes..Christmas mornings...Wishing you a magical one ..

  16. You capture that moment in our childhood so well Pamela. One of my most precious memories is my eldest, at the age of 3, explaining that he DID see Santa in the night, and that it was the sound of the bells that had woken him!
    Hope your preparations are going well

  17. Maybe this year you will be lucky if Edward does not give the game away.

    Reading this makes me realize how long I have been visiting your enchanting blog. It seems no time at all since the last time I wished you a Merry Christmas.

  18. December 24, the most sleepless night of the year for children. This brings back memories of my own childhood, such a wonderful post!

  19. That was always my experience too. Great post!

  20. Is that department store Santa around 25 years old? Even a little girl like yourself would know he's much too young to be Santa. Plus, his eyes are guarded or was he checking out your Mama? He was probably about her age! Ha!

  21. Pamela and Edward - you bring so much beauty and wisdom to this world; I am passing forward a blog award to you. Thank you for your posts - they always are lovely.

  22. Hello MacDonald girl! - I love that you're a MacDonald too.
    I've just had a lovely little run down your latest posts - so enjoyed the one about The Aunt.
    One Christmas Eve - the one when I was seven years old - I heard Santa outside my window. Really. Sleigh bells, pawing reindeer and all.

  23. Splendid tale of persistent hope! Yes, creepy department store Santas!!

    Do you still leave the cookies and milk out.... and does Edward have crumbs on his fur, a milk mustache, and a smile?

  24. There is a scary looking Santa in the window of a little art gallery on main street... he waves at the people in the cars that go by, but he doesn't look jolly. The first criteria for any Santa imposter is to look happy!!!!

    How adorable you were as you went to visit that fake Santa!!!!

    Merry Beautiful Christmas to you,
    ~ Violet

  25. I had forgotten that feeling of extreme anticipation the night before Christmas. Thank you for bringing it back for me! Wish we could be so innocent again...

  26. I think there should be a law that any department store or corner Santa must be of a certain age. The picture of the Santa you met looked far too young to be believable. Our son's always questioned the age and fakeness of the beard. We would dutifully explain that those gentlemen were Santa's elves and helpers. Santa was busy making toys in the North Poll so he relied on these younger men.
    I loved your post in fact all that I've ever read has been so entertaining, thank you.

  27. Pam, you took me down menory lane, I took Renee every yeaz, and did the photo bit. I am sure Santa has heard your wish. Kiss Edward for me..give him a great big hug.. Merry Chrestmas. May all your wishes come true.


  28. A friend who took her children to Lapland to visit Santa (a common winter treat in Europe - special charter flights to the North of Finland) reported that the children were disconcerted by the Finnish Santa. He was tall and thin and bony.

  29. Happy, happy holidays!

    Ola, the guinea pig, sends his best regards too.

  30. NOT at all!!!!
    I love your story!
    Have a very merry Christmas! All of you, and a happy New Year!

  31. you my dear are an endlessly enchanting
    teller of stories. and just as adorable
    then as now. those who are full of joy
    cannot but help share it with others.
    thanking you for thank.
    have the merriest of christmases.


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