The local radio station runs a delightful campaign where people are asked to donate an extra gift for a needy child who might otherwise get nothing for Christmas. This is a beautiful thing and the year that I was asked to be part of it, I knew it would be so very special. And special indeed it was.
So I joined social services all young, fresh faced and full of enthusiasm. I was going to right wrongs, restore harmony and generally do the right thing, goddammit. Now this was misguided for many a reason and the year that I became Santa was just a tiny drop in the ocean of cynicism I was to develop.
But anyways…..a large sackful of gifts appeared in our office from the radio show. Who would be in touch with more needy children than social services after all? I had visions of grubby little urchins holding up their outstretched palms like marginally better fed Oliver Twists, tears of joy sliding down their little faces as they received the first presents they had ever had. I saw families who had hitherto spent the kiddies Christmas pressie fund on fags and sky tv being so touched by the kindness of strangers at this miraculous time that they recanted of their shameful ways and abandoned the vodka and crack pipes in favour of homework time and extra cuddles. Through my willingness to distribute the benevolence of others I was going to help create a new generation of doctors, academics and artists from those who might otherwise have been hanging around street corners with headgear at ridiculous angles and trousers filling with rainwater where they were puddled around their knees.
I know, I totally had it coming right?
So having leaped forward to volunteer myself for this mission, I gathered the massive pile of gifts and headed out into the gently falling snow, humming a festive tune, heart full of joy and face full of chocolate.
That all was not to go quite as I imagined first became clear as I arrived at the first house. Now I am aware that poor deprived urchins probably don’t live in the most salubrious areas but manoeuvring through the burning tyres and used durex mountains was startling. There was a flood of wide eyed salvation army collectors streaming past my car uttering oaths that I’m fairly sure were not in the Bible. A group of carol singers huddled by the wayside, weeping softly and not even in key.
Undaunted I parked up and headed for my first destination. The front door bore the welcoming notice ‘go rond bak’ so to the garden I duly headed. Now I’m good with dogs, even the most slavering beast with extra fangs doesn’t faze me. This family did not have a dog. What they had was a hate filled bundle of furry, fury that launched itself on spring loaded rear legs straight for my throat. Hideous screams filled the air, though whether from me or the hell beast I could no longer tell. Luckily this brought the family to my aid. Well I say aid, if aid means going ‘daft bitch is scared of the fucking bunny!’, anyway. Seriously though, that was the shit scariest rabbit that ever existed outside of Monty Python.
Gifts were handed over, jugulars were bandaged and criticisms were uttered about the lack of willingness of the local populace to hand over Xboxes or Benson and Hedges during the festive season. I’m guessing no-one thought those were ideal for a seven year old but that’s because they aren’t in tune with the youth of today who are all about the gaming and befanged cottontailed demons.
Several near death experiences later, I went to drive out of the estate on my remaining two wheels. The softly falling snow was now a howling blizzard and the roads were slick with ice and Special Brew. My car, unlike a sleigh did not rise above this and I found myself in a sort of bobsleigh of terror with no idea which way I was facing let alone how to escape this hell. I became grimly aware that should I survive this I was going to need a change of career and underwear although probably not in that order.
Escape I did however, and after flinging the remaining gifts in the faces of the now hideously threatening and peril strewn ragamuffin population with naught but a hastily muttered ‘ Mer’ Chrissma’ before dashing to the safety of my rapidly disintegrating vehicle, I headed for sanctuary at the local hostelry. After telling my tale of woe and restoring my festive spirit by imbibing large quantities of gin (the most festive of spirits) I was able to regain both my perspective and control of my bladder.
But much as it pains me to let the truth get in the way of my story, it’s only fair to say that actually, several dicey moments aside the majority of people took my presence and presents in the manner they were intended and were genuinely touched that anyone could be bothered to think of them and their kids at a time when most of us think pretty much entirely about the irritations of fighting red eyed hordes for the last furby on the shelf or how many calories it’s possible to consume before actually turning in on oneself and inadvertently devouring planets in our newfound gravitational force (NB this may not actually be how physics works but if it turns out in the future that it is, you can share my Nobel prize).
Also my expectation had been all about the beaming, bright eyed seraphim and lo and behold generally they were beaming like little cherubs, well if cherubs were armed with flick knives and a vocabulary that would make Quentin Tarantino flinch.
So I learned three main things:
1) People are both much better and much worse than you think
2) Expectations are all about you. If you think other people will go along with them or play nicely then you are doomed to a life of bowel bothering terror or resentful fury.
3) There is a reason Santa wants nothing to do with you while you’re awake and he is a fucking genius.