Christmas on Becca's Books | The Santa Secret by Valerie-Ann Baglietto

~ The Santa Secret* ~

(*quite a different thing from Secret Santa)
By Valerie-Ann Baglietto

As a grown woman, do I believe in Santa? Well, logically speaking, no.
Do I want to believe? Of course I do!
They’re two entirely different things. And as a mum-of-three and a writer of slightly out of the ordinary fiction, this has never been more obvious to me.
My daughter, the youngest, turned ten this year. She’s on the cusp when it comes to believing. Or maybe, being a fairy tale lover like me, she desperately wants to keep the myth alive, because the idea of a kind old man with a fluffy beard, and scarlet garb trimmed with white, dispensing gifts and the spirit of goodwill to the children of the world is just too wonderful to let go – and I can’t blame her.

Now, more than ever, we need that sort of innocence. The two opposites of consumerism and St Nicholas aside, the Santa of current folklore is a charming, magical character; although many countries have their own varying traditions. Regardless of how the legend came into being and the different strands that wove together to create it, and however much American and British culture – in poems, songs, movies and advertising - has transmuted it, I like what the modern day Santa has come to represent.
The last few years my sons have been conscientious about playing along for the sake of their younger sister. Making lists. Being ‘nice’ as opposed to ‘naughty’. Poking around in their Christmas stockings on the morning of the twenty-fifth with wide-eyed excitement. Well, the teenager not so much; I don’t think he can do wide-eyed excitement anymore. But my daughter starts secondary school in 2016, and I know everything will be different next Christmas. This year, she’s simply asked Santa to chip in some money for a new smartphone (not an exorbitant one beginning with ‘i’, thankfully). My heart cracked just a little. No more ‘teddies’, ‘Barbies’ or ‘pretty dresses’ scribbled on the secret list she used to hide under the bed so her brothers wouldn’t find it.
Perhaps it’s the end of my husband and I staying up late on Christmas Eve, until our excited brood eventually go to sleep, so we can spread out the gifts under the tree; provided we can find where we’ve hidden them all. But hopefully not the end of watching films like Elf, which we’ve enjoyed as a family tradition for years now. I think it’s one of the best portrayals of Santa, his elves and the North Pole. And although I’m not keen on Polar Express as a film, I like the part about the bell. Because, of course, if you can’t hear it tinkle anymore, well…

I hope I always hear the bell tinkle. I hope my heart always believes in Santa, whatever my head is saying. One Christmas Eve he was even kind enough to deliver the plot of my first contemporary, ‘magical’ novel, Once Upon a Winter, when my second son almost stumbled across me stuffing the family’s stockings. It triggered an idea. What if a child wakes up excepting to find Santa, but finds someone very different instead? What if it’s the father who’s been missing for the last seven years… who isn’t a normal sort of father at all? And there I was, till the wee hours, when not even a mouse was stirring, scribbling down the thread of a plot while the rest of the household slept.

Four fairy tales later, the latest of which was recently shortlisted in the 2015 Love Stories Awards, I often think back to that Christmas Eve and wonder what might have happened if my children had long since stopped believing and I hadn’t been creeping about, stuffing stockings. Would Once Upon a Winter ever have come about?
I also sometimes think, isn’t it possible that parents themselves become Santa, without realising it? We embody the spirit of it, the purity, the love, just to see the look on our children’s faces in the morning. That’s why we do it. That look. Let’s not delude ourselves. It’s the best feeling in the world. For a moment, we’re child and parent, giver and receiver, rolled into one.
And there’s another reason we’ve perpetuated the myth for so long. However ancient and jaded we are, we all need to feel as if we’re six years old again and there’s a benevolent old man whizzing around on his reindeer-drawn sleigh in the starry sky, bells jingling, red cloak rippling, snowy beard ruffled by the wind, gifts piled high… We all need to believe it. Just for one night.

By day, Valerie-Anne Baglietto writes modern, grown-up fairy-tales. By night, she clears up after her husband and three children. Occasionally she sleeps. During her career, she has written rom-coms for Hodder & Stoughton and won the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writer’s Award. Aside from writing and household management, she takes perverse delight in bossing around the other members of Novelistas Ink, a writers’ collective founded by the bestselling author Trisha Ashley. You can also find Valerie-Anne hanging out in the usual places on social media.

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1 comment :

  1. What a lovely post, and a great introduction to the idea for your book! I shall be checking them all out as soon as possible. My three children are 13, 14 and 17, and although they are fully aware that Santa is a myth they make me do the same silly 'he's been!' on Christmas morning - I hope it will never change :-)