By Seb Kirby
Here is a true story that took place on a snowy night some years ago….
It’s Christmas Eve. My son Ben is 5, soon to be 6. He still believes in Father Christmas. I’ve convinced myself that the time has come to tell him ‘the truth.’
Harsh, you might think. But for the best. It’s not going to be much good if he goes on believing when all his school chums know ‘the truth’. They could end up thinking he’s a wimp. And I’m recalling the quandary I was in when I was Ben’s age when one of the kids in the street had taken delight in telling me ‘the truth’. I wanted to spare him that.
So, I’m standing next to Ben and we’re looking out of the window, out onto the street from the little terraced house in Swansea, South Wales. It’s snowing; one of those rare white Christmas things. And I’ve plucked up the courage to tell him.
‘You see, Ben, there is no Father Christmas. It’s just something grown-ups invent…..’
Ben’s not saying a thing. I’m beginning to think that I’m doing this well. But something has caught his attention further down the street.
Just then, right on cue, Father Christmas comes walking along, picking his way through the ankle deep snow. Dragging a small sleigh with a big white bag full of presents on it. As he comes closer, he sees us at the window and gives a wave and a cheery smile. I wave back.
Ben still says nothing. He’s a thinking child and he’s trying to weigh this up. Dad’s saying there’s no such thing as Father Christmas. Father Christmas has just come walking up the street dragging his sleigh and has just waved and given a cheery smile. Dad has waved back. Finally, Ben waves back and just says, ‘OK, Dad.’
The guy who’s just walked past is Brian, a teacher friend of the two girls who are our next door neighbours. He’s volunteered again this year to be Santa at the local primary school, just round the corner. He’s good at it. He has the full red and white Santa suit, portly gait and believable white beard. And the sleigh and the big bag of presents. I’m rubbing my eyes as he braves the steps to the house next door. He’s come to wish the girls a Merry Christmas in his usual exuberant way. I don’t know him well but I’ve spoken to him a few times, enough to give him a wave.
That was the best part of forty years ago. I don’t think that Ben has ever wholly believed a word I’ve had to say since that day. How could you blame him? A lesson for us both in truth and reality, perhaps.
And the proof, if proof was ever needed, that you shouldn’t listen to anyone who tells you that Father Christmas doesn’t exist.
Merry Christmas, everyone!
Thanks to all those who’ve taken an interest in my writing during the year……
was literally raised with books – his grandfather ran a mobile library in Birmingham, UK and his parents inherited a random selection of the books. Once he discovered a trove of well-used titles from Zane Gray’s Riders of the Purple Sage, HG Wells’ The Invisible Man and Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities to more obscure stuff, he was hooked.
He’s been an avid reader ever since.
Other inspirations include Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis and The Trial, George Orwell 1984 and Animal Farm, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s One Day In The Life of Ivan Denisovich, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Boris Pasternak’s Dr Zhivago, Arthur Koestler’s Darkness At Noon, Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov, Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley …
He is author of the James Blake thriller series, Take No More, Regret No More and Forgive No More, which were recently republished by Canelo; the science-fiction thriller, Double Bind; Each Day I Wake; and Sugar for Sugar. His latest book is another psychological thriller, Here the Truth Lies.
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