When I was young
it seemed strange to me
that at Christmas time
I would sit on the knee,
of a rather fat man
all dressed in red
who on Christmas Eve
left presents on my bed.
Just how this man
travelled here and then there
I was not sure
and so I would stare,
when Santa appeared
at our school or a store,
and then in a flash
be gone through the door.
How could this man
ride on a sleigh
that flew through the sky
on our special day?
How could he give
to so many so fast
such beautiful toys
that were made to last?.
The strangest thing though
was that on Christmas night
he would climb down our chimney,
which must have been tight.
So that when we awoke,
early Christmas day,
our presents were there
but not Santa's sleigh.
Still, as we all know,
now we are grown,
mostly its magic
bringing Santa to our home.
Its best not to wonder
just how things appear
but enjoy what you are given
for Christmas this year.
As children in the fifties, my brother and I always loved Christmas. In many ways I guess it was no different to what children experience now. Kids still love Christmas surely?
Kids are more worldly these days but deep down young kids are much the same as always.
For us as children and church-goers, there was always the advent book prize to look forward to, Church amateur pantomimes, the Christmas festivities and the school nativity plays.
One of the other highlights was visiting Santa's Grotto.
Don't know what Santa's Grotto is? Well let me enlighten you.
Visiting Santa's Grotto
We often had more than one visit to a Santa's Grotto when we were young. With two maiden aunts, who brought my father up, we were a little spoiled I guess, but we had no living grandparents. We were not well off by any means but compared to some of our neighbours in post-war Britain we fared quite well.
These two great aunts would buy us all sorts of gifts and treats, and at least one of them would take us to see Santa.
In the fifties there so many large department stores that Santa had a hard time keeping up. He had to delegate some of his work to understudies who would carry out some of his tasks whilst he was busy finishing his Christmas preparations.
Consequently Santa's Grotto often had an understudy playing the lead role
Each department store would have a Santa's Grotto and for a small fee children could tour around and receive a gift. The grotto was an example of what Santa's polar home really was like but some of these grottoes were simply grotty.
After the tour you could sit on Santa's knee and have your photograph taken. I was always too much in awe of the great man to do this. There were often a few elves who had flown in especially to make sure that all was well. After all Santa's reputation was at risk with some of these grottoes and Santa understudies.
There are still a few places that have a visit to Santa available but with more people shopping online and less high street department stores open for business, their demise is inevitable.
These days in the UK getting the prospective Santa understudies criminal records checked and cleared in time is tricky. Such measures I know are a vital, if not a sad, sign of the times.
So if there is a Santa's Grotto near you why not take the kids for a visit. Father Christmas will be pleased, and the kids can hand their Christmas list in here, for assured Christmas delivery.
Remember on Christmas Eve that Santa's preparations start early in the day. When I was a kid little was known of Santa's incredible journey on December 24 but these days children are much luckier. Modern technology has opened up a more hands on approach to Santa and you can now track his journey around the world if you want to.
Big and little kids around the world are now able to track Santa's journey on Christmas Eve, the start of the Christmas festivities. Mums and Dads may still have a lot of work to do but, as most children are now on holiday from school, they might be able to visit the website.
NORAD has an official website that tracks Santa on his Christmas Eve travels. It has a few surprises in store also. You will need to check in on Christmas Eve as the site is only fully operational for this one day each year. The site goes live at 9am Christmas Eve. NORAD usually is only responsible for protecting North America from incoming nuclear missiles but for one day each year it has special duties monitoring Santa's journey.
NORAD uses radar and satellite technology to follow Santa, as well as utilising the infra-red signature left by Rudolph's red nose. Surprisingly NORAD has been tracking Santa since 1955 but I guess it must have been kept secret back then. The Internet has allowed a more visual chance to follow the big guy. Google maps and updates will provide Santa's latest location throughout Christmas Eve. This service is unable to predict the exact time that Santa will visit you. This is as we all know is due to his magical abilities.
See roughly though what time Father Christmas may be in your neck of the woods to avoid any last minute hitches. You don't want to be awake when he arrives, do you?
Merry Christmas to everyone then and I hope Santa brings you all your heart desires, if he can.