‘Ho, ho, ho.’
Well. I didn’t know who this fella was but I didn’t like the look of him.
‘Ho, ho, ho.’
He was badly dressed in a red coat, red trousers, and black boots with a big belt around his middle. He looked as if Mother had been giving him fashion advice; she’s a fan of a big belt. Her personal favourite is a thick brown one which Grandad says makes her ‘look like a weightlifter.’ Mother pretends she can’t hear him.
‘Ho, ho, ho.’
Aside from the dubious fashion sense, this chap also had an excessively long white beard. From it I could see that he had recently dined, the flecks of leftover food clearly visible. His whiskers were of such a length that I had a yearning to grab hold of them and pull them but unfortunately – or fortunately for him – he was far enough away for this to not be feasible.
‘Ho, ho, ho.’
The other thing I noticed about the fella was that he was mind-numbingly monosyllabic. He had done nothing but repeat himself repeatedly with a ‘ho, ho, ho’ for the last few minutes. It made no sense. I am often accused – erroneously – of senseless gibberish when I am given to screaming but in fact I am talking eruditely and intelligently on many and varied subjects. It is not my fault that people – aka Mother and Father – are too stupid to be able to interpret my engaging and interesting dialogue. This man, however, was the kind of person I suspect others avoided at social events, he was that tedious.
‘Ho, ho, ho.’
And yet, I got the sense that I was supposed to be excited about meeting this Father Christmas fella. But I was entirely nonplussed.
In fact, that had been my mood of the whole day. Much to the chagrin of a rather excitable (read: utterly unbearable) Mother.
‘It’s almost Christmas darling,’ she began, grinning inanely. ‘Your first Christmas. And do you know what we’re doing today? Do you? Do you? Do you?’ she asked persistently, even though I had replied the first time with a fairly loudly screamed: ‘No!’
‘We are going,’ she continued, at last, ‘To see the lights being switched on. And to meet Santa! Can you believe it! Father Christmas!’ she screeched, her tone now so high that she was only audible to animals and teddy bears (I saw RoRo wince as she emphasised her point).
But, I’ll be honest, I was struggling to understand what there was to get animated about. Especially when it came to my attire. Never let it be said that Mother has any fashion sense whatsoever (weightlifting belts aside, she’s also a fan of ‘pop socks’. ‘No-one knows you’re wearing them,’ she protests. They do though when you pull them up in plain sight of everyone) but the garb she had chosen for me today was excruciatingly ugly. ‘Which one?’ she’d asked Father, holding up two garish, heavily decorated sweaters. ‘Neither,’ I snapped, furiously. ‘Put me in one of my pleasant babygros.’ But if I’d hoped for any fatherly support, then I was sorely mistaken. ‘Oh, definitely the one that flashes,’ he’d enthused. ‘If we’re going to a light switch on, it must be the jumper with the lights,’ he added. If you ask me, clothes should not do anything other than sit quietly and non-offensively on one’s person. But then, no-one ever asks me.
‘What do you think darling? Isn’t it exciting?’
I couldn’t help but think that Mother and Father could do with a new dictionary if this was their definition of ‘exciting.’ We had been stood in the same spot for the last five hours (felt like, at least), Mother and Father staring at something in the distance. It was a bitterly cold day; not for me, mind. I had been wrapped up in a toasty warm snowsuit that felt like a hug around me. And fortunately, it covered up my foul sweater. No, I was lovely and warm but from the way Mother’s breath formed in a visible cloud and how Father was blowing on his screwed-up fists I couldn’t help but suspect the temperature was piercingly chilly. Aside from those signs, there was also the fact that Mother hadn’t stopped moaning about the cold for the last ten minutes.
‘…. gone numb.’
‘Well, let’s go in then.’
‘No. We’ll miss the lights.’
‘Well, get a hot drink then.’
‘No. We’ll lose our spot,’ she said, looking around her warily.
‘Well, stop moaning then.’
This, apparently, was the worst thing that Father could have said because Mother spent the next five minutes complaining at length about Father’s remark. ‘….an insult. I am the least moany person I know. I never-‘
Luckily – for Father, who was starting to look as if he wished he could borrow Mother’s ear muffs to shut out her whines – Mother’s monologue was interrupted by:
‘Ah darling,’ Mother said, turning to me, watery-eyed. ‘What do you think of the lights? Aren’t they pretty?’
They were ok, I thought mildly as I glanced up and saw several sparkling lights. There were rather a lot of them. I couldn’t help but wonder what Father was thinking: he is always going on about Mother leaving the landing light on. ‘Think of the electricity bill,’ he says, crossly. I looked up at him; sure enough there was a crease of concern on his forehead.
And then it started to rain.
‘Right, c’mon, let’s go and see Father Christmas,’ said Mother briskly.
‘Ho, ho, ho.’
Again, with the ‘ho, ho, ho.’
‘And what would you like for Christmas?’ he asked, finally changing the subject.
Now he was talking. This was what I’d heard. That Father Christmas brings presents on Christmas Eve for children to find on Christmas Day. To be honest, I’d thought Mother was making it up; she is known for her fabrications. She once told Father, entirely straight-faced: ‘I have no idea how that got there,’ about a scratch which she’d managed to administer when parking.
Perhaps, though, for once, she was telling the truth. I thought carefully about my choices. I didn’t want to make a poor decision and end up regretting it. After a few moments of thought I said: ‘I would like another sheep to keep Baa Baa company. I would also like my own vehicle. I am fed up of relying on Mother and Father for transport. I’d like a friend for RoRo too. Maybe a horse? I would like my own-‘
But before I could go on, Father Christmas had interrupted me and handed me a packaged parcel. Excitedly, Mother took it and started opening it (I could see she was going to be a handful on Christmas Day). But, I must admit, in spite of myself, I felt a flicker of anticipation too…. anticipation which was entirely misplaced. What the…?
‘Ah look darling,’ began Mother. ‘It’s a…box of chocolates. She’s too young for this,’ Mother added to Santa.
He shrugged, disinterested. ‘We’ve run out of stuff for babies. Can’t you have it?’
Mother sighed. ‘I suppose I’ll have to,’ she said, barely keeping the smile off her face.
I was absolutely furious at this crushing disappointment. I did what I always do in these situations and let my disapproval known loudly.
‘Shush darling,’ Mother said soothingly. But I couldn’t be soothed. I was fuming. As Mother hustled me out, I shot this so-called Father Christmas a look that left him in no doubt: he’d better up his game on 24th December – or else…..