He’s a rum old chap, that Santa. He lays low for eight months of the year, then – pow! – he’s popping up all over the place. In shops, on the TV, and then even in the nooks and crannies of your house. Only this tubby fellow, with his bag of giftwrapped goodies, could get away with something that would otherwise be known as stalking.
And forget the Seven Ages of Man – you can gauge where you are, in your journey through life, depending on how Santa looks to you. He changes, you see, depending on how old you are.
Here they are: the Seven Ages of Santa.
To 99.9999% of children under the age of three – the ones that can walk, talk, scream or run away, that is – Santa is the most terrifying man alive. A stranger with shocking facial hair, who sits in red suit that looks suspiciously like a giant red babygro. An overfed man whose job description requires him to grab them for a sweaty (and maybe even beery) cuddle.
The man is a monster.
Santa is THE BEST
From the age of three, till roughly six or seven, Santa is tops. Children still believe that there is a man who manages to squeeze his huge tummy down a narrow chimney and bring them presents. Even if they don’t have a fireplace.
And, at this stage, they’re so enthralled by the magic of Christmas that they’re just as excited by a couple of chocolate coins and a small orange, as they would be by a state-of-the-art tablet.
Santa – is – my – Dad (aren’t I clever)
Clever little sods at this age, aren’t they. They’ve cottoned on to the fact that ‘Santa’ is really their Dad, who sneaks into their bedroom with presents, after quaffing that sherry they lovingly left out for the big guy.
And they want to tell everyone how clever they are – because they have figured out that Father Christmas doesn’t exist. Younger siblings. Small children in the primary school playground. People stood in the queue for the village fayre Christmas grotto.
Children this age should be segregated from the end of September, for the good of everyone else’s Christmas cheer.
Santa – is – my – Dad (boo hoo! Waaaah!)
Luckily, the ‘clever-clever’ stage doesn’t last long. Once the kids realise that Father Christmas isn’t real, the mourning begins. It’s a disappointment they’ll have to deal with for the rest of their life: the person who brings them gifts, rewards them for being good, and trumps Mum and Dad in his all-knowing, all-seeing magical properties, Is. Not. Real.
This is where some kids regress back into pretending they still believe….because that’s a lot easier than accepting the bearer of all gifts will never visit them, ever again….
A few years down the line, the disappointment wears off, and is replaced by a more general, teenage funk. Your parents lied to you about Santa? Who gives a toss – they lie to you about everything, anyway. Santa is just a sad old man in a shopping centre, with too much time on his hands.
Oh wait, it’s Christmas Eve. Mum – Dad – can we play Santa again… just for one last time?
Busy, busy, busy. Life as an adult singleton leaves no time for Santa. At best he’s to be seen in the decorations laid out by your parents, who quite frankly are looking forward to the time when someone will cook them a turkey for once.
The big chap has disappeared. Probably hiding out in the North Pole, working overtime to make presents for the next stage….
Santa: the absent law enforcer
Bang! He’s back. For anyone lucky enough to have kids, Santa is a blessing. An overlord, who can take the flak when the littles demand a present that’s too pricey (‘hmmmm….Santa might not have enough room on his sleigh for that brand new bike and the seven Octonauts toys you’ve asked for’). And he’s the most effective form of behaviour management any parent could wish for. No need for reward charts or naughty steps – just tell them the bearer of all gifts is watching them, and the wee folk will snap to attention straight away.
But the best bit of all? You get to hang out with little people who think that looking inside a stocking and finding an umbrella is the most wonderful thing to have happened all year.
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