Monday, 29 October 2012

When Santa Claus Got Shafted

My dad LOVES Christmas! It's his favourite time of the year! He loves watching the children get excited and he especially loves watching them open their presents! In fact my dad is the biggest kid of them all on Christmas Day! I remember the first year that my brother and I didn't believe in Santa. We didn't want to get up early and my dad practically had to pull us out of bed. He looked so disappointed that the following year we pretended to still believe, just so we didn't see that look on his face again, as though he'd lost the magic of Christmas! Then when I had my own family, I made sure that every year we invited my parents to spend Christmas with us and that they would be there when the children got up to peep into the lounge and see all their presents, the proof that Santa had been!

But that's not all he enjoys doing. My dad LOVES playing Santa! He even looks the part with his shaggy white hair and beard! When I asked him a few months ago, what he was looking forward to the most once he retired, he answered being able to play Santa more often. If he had to turn the opportunity down because of work commitments, he always felt bad as he enjoyed the role so much. He is also very good at it! I remember watching him at a party in our local leisure centre a few years ago, he went around the hall, down on one knee and chatted with all the toddlers who were there whilst they were playing. He spent time getting to know them all and building up their confidence so that when it was time for them to come and see him to receive their gifts, they weren't scared of him at all! He was the friendly man that they had already spoken too. The following year he couldn't do it because of work and his replacement Santa just sat in the chair waiting for the children to come to him, which of course they were a little nervous about doing and some wouldn't go at all. 

The first time he was asked to play Santa, was many many years ago, when my brother and I were still small, up at the local church hall. One of the little girls at the party was a very young Charlie Brooks (Janine in Eastenders) and on seeing my dad she declared "You're not Santa! You're my uncle John!" (no he isn't really her uncle but he was best friends with her dad!)

Me and a very young Charlie Brooks

A few years ago, I'm not sure how many but I know that my eldest was very small, my dad was asked by the school if he could be Santa at the their Christmas fair. It was a long time ago because my nephew was still attending the school and I remember clamping my hand over his mouth as he said "I know that voice it's Gra......!" My nephew is now 15!!!

Ever since that Christmas Fair, the school have always asked him to come back and play Santa every year. And he has! Even if he was working, for the school fair he would book the day off work, taking it as unpaid, so he could play Santa at the school, for free! He never expecting anything for doing it, he just did it because he enjoyed helping out the school and because he loved being Santa. He would be asked to play Santa for the school on other occasions as well, such as the Christmas Dinner and the school disco's and parties and he always felt bad that he was working and couldn't make it!

Santa and Mrs Claus
aka Mum and Dad!

This year, because he was available to play Santa on every occasion he was asked, and because he'd already had two letters asking him to play Santa, one from the school and one from the local childcare partnership for a party for the toddlers of the town, my mum and I decided we would treat him to a proper Santa suit. A really nice one so that he could really look the part from now on!

Then, last week, everything fell apart! On the Sunday my dad had proudly shown me the two letters he'd received about playing Santa and my mum and I had spent all afternoon researching Santa suits. The following day, whilst waiting to collect the children after school, I mentioned to my friends, who were also on the Friends of the School, that my mum and I were looking for a luxury Santa suit for my dad for the school Christmas fair. One of them then turned around to me and said.
"But then he'll be competing with someone else in town. He has his own grotto and does the late night opening in town as well as the old people's home. Plus he's doing the school Christmas fair!"

"What do you mean?" I said shocked. "My dad's playing Santa at the school fair! He's already had the letter!"

Me and my brother with our dad!

That's when I found out that this other person had attended the meeting (which they hadn't invited my dad to) and claimed that the school had looked bare last year and he wanted to play Santa with his own grotto. Because he could bring his own grotto, everyone jumped at the chance to let him play Santa! All because they couldn't be bothered to build the Grotto, which was usually in one of the classrooms so that no one could go in to decorate until 3pm because of classes and of course that was the time the Christmas fair began! Then they blamed the person who sent my dad the letter asking him to play Santa saying she shouldn't have sent it, but when I mentioned it to her, she said that two other members knew and helped her with the letter because at the time everyone else was in agreement that my dad was playing Santa! 

My dad has been playing Santa at the school for around 8 years and this is how they treat him! Throwing him away like a plain biscuit because a fancy biscuit comes along. Even though, without the sparkles and the decorations, the plain biscuit tastes better! Had anyone thought to ask my dad if he could help with the Grotto? NO! Had they invited him to the meeting to discuss the Christmas fair? NO! Had they asked for his help in any way? NO! Would he have helped if he had been asked? HELL YES!!!

My family

When I spoke to my mum that afternoon, my dad was STILL under the impression that HE was playing Santa! They hadn't even had the decency to tell him before telling everyone else that someone else was playing Santa!

I am thoroughly disgusted with them all, they have treated my dad despicably with no respect or common courtesy after all he has done for them over the years!And I REFUSE to go to any events the Friends of the School host and to support them in any way, even though I had been one of the few people who went to EVERY SINGLE ONE!!! 

I've been struggling for the past week on whether I should write this post or not... 

But in the end I've decided I will. Sometimes writing things down can help you feel better, and since I am still annoyed a week later, maybe writing down how I feel will help me get it off my chest and move on, rather than letting it fester like an infected wound and tar my enjoyment of Christmas!

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