A Visit to Santa
‘Where are we going, mum?’ said Emily.
‘I’m taking you to see Santa, I told you I would.’
‘Hooray, hooray, hooray.’ Emily danced around the kitchen. It’s hard to contain excitement when you are five.
‘Did your mum take you to see him when you were little?’ said Emily.
‘She did, and I think I was almost as excited as you. And I never forgot what he told me.’
‘What did he tell you, mum?’
Julia remembered, word for word, the long-ago conversation. ‘That’s a secret,’ she said. And she would not tell despite Emily’s most plaintive pleading.
Mother and daughter arrived at Santa’s Grotto and joined the queue of excited children.
As they inched towards the head of the queue the excited hubbub was replaced by uncertain anticipation.
‘What’s he like, Santa?’ said Emily, nervousness crossing her brow.
‘He’s very wise, and very kind,’ said Julia.
Emily stayed quiet until it was her turn. The Elf took Emily by the hand and led mother and daughter into the Grotto. There, bedecked in red with a huge white beard and bright blue sparkling eyes, sat the same man Julia had seen all those years ago.
‘Ho, ho, ho, you must be Emily,’ he boomed.
‘But, how do you know?’ a quiet Emily said.
‘I know all the children, and all those who used to be children,’ and he looked at Emily’s mother.
‘Hello Dr Julia, I hope you are well. You have a beautiful daughter. But please stand back, as you know the conversation between Emily and I must be secret.’
As Julia stepped back Santa began to talk quietly with Emily.
‘What would you like to be when you grow up, Emily?’
‘I want to be a princess,’ said Emily.
‘Then I am certain you shall be,’ said Santa.
Emily looked doubtful. ‘Are you sure?’
‘Oh yes, very sure. If that is what you really want to be. But here’s a secret. You can change your mind if you want to. People often change their mind as they get a bit older. You might decide you want to be an explorer, or an astronaut, then you will be one. All you have to do is tell yourself that’s what you really want to be.’
‘I don’t have to do anything else, just tell myself?’ said Emily.
‘There may be other things to do, but they’ll be easy. The first thing is to tell yourself. Now here’s another secret. When your mother was your age, she wanted to be a ballerina.’
‘But she isn’t one,’ said Emily, a little too loudly.
‘Well, she changed her mind when she was ten, and decided she wanted to be a Doctor.’
‘And she is a Doctor,’ said Emily incredulously, ‘it really does work.’
On the drive home Julia said, ‘did you have a good visit with Santa?’
‘Oh, yes,’ said Emily, ‘I told him I wanted to be a princess when I grow up. But I may change my mind later.’
This story was first published in The Gillingham and Shaftesbury Guide Dec 2018