Wednesday, 22 December 2010

My Santa Adventure

Back in October I started a new job working for MRC Community Action at the Marlene Reid Centre in Coalville. Although the position is a fixed term contract which I know will come to an end in April it is without doubt the best job I have ever had.

My colleagues are wonderful, the job is varied and challenging and most importantly you know you are making a difference to the most disadvantaged in our community.

The job is also the principle reason why I am looking forward to this Christmas more than any I ever have previously.

Let me explain...

Not long after I started the role we were having a discussion in the office about the possibility of me dressing up as Father Christmas. I said that I would but with one proviso, the stipulation was that we should seek to give children a first class experience of Santa.

In short I said I would throw myself into the role only if we could get our hands on a top quality suit in order that we could give a 'department store' quality experience like the Father Christmas' of yesteryear.

I argued that hardly any children from a difficult background would have ever had such an experience and that it was a right of being a child that a visit to Santa should be both believable and magical. I insisted that if I was going to play the big man then we had to do it properly.

After a little persuasion and a rudimentary business case to prove that a premium quality suit was worthwhile to their eternal credit MRC agreed to purchase one.

Part of the business case was that we should offer our Santa, i.e. me, out to local schools, community organisations and our own events in order that we could give as many children (and those young at heart) as possible the best Father Christmas experience and obviously at the same time we could raise the profile of our charity.

The results have been astonishing.

After a period of time researching how a real Santa should act (always know the names of the reindeer and put blusher on your cheeks) over the past few weeks I have dressed up many times in the red suit and visited numerous primary schools, ladies luncheon clubs and other venues throughout the district.

I have learned two things throughout the process:

Firstly, it does not matter who they are but as soon as you put on that suit ladies start making suggestive comments to you. In short, they can be old, young, professional (or not so professional) but for some reason Father Christmas turns women a bit 'fruity'! I LOVED IT!!!

Secondly, to dress up as the big man is a real privilege and honour.

I have been lucky to be Santa at many different places. I have been to retired ladies groups (very fruity), primary schools, special needs units, teenage mums groups to name just a few.

Every time under my wig I have welled up a little.

Whether it was to the five year olds who were astonished, or the girl with learning needs who couldn't contain her excitement at meeting Father Christmas, or the young boy from a difficult background who only wanted a puncture repair kit, or even the teenage mum with the five week old baby.

It cannot fail to touch you to know you are bringing a little magic to a someone at this time of year.

There are so many bad things happening in the world and I know I moan about them most of the time on this blog but for a few short years children can believe in the most fantastic and good spirited thing possible and I am privileged to have been a part in keeping that alive this year.

And it's true. It's made me feel a lot more Christmassy because I have been able to capture some of that wonderment and for the first time in many years I really am excited about what is to come.

I'm just hoping that I'm on the good list and come Christmas night I get a visit from the real man in red.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas, and with that Ho Ho Ho!

Getting ready for a visit!

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