A Christmas Tale… “Daddy, can we visit Santa?”

The run-up to Christmas is always a busy time for me and the team; people are keen to
make sure that their boilers and heating systems won’t break down over the festive period.
This means we’re mainly carrying out inspections and simple radiator bleeds. It’s work that’s
really quite enjoyable, and it’s a nice way to wind down before the start of the holidays.

However, I always like to take a few days off to do the Christmas shopping and generally get
things organised. This includes ordering the panettone and buying some other traditional
Italian delicacies. But last year, my eldest daughter, Elodía, asked if we could go and visit
Santa Claus. Christmas is her favourite time of year; and to say that she gets excited is a
total understatement. In fact, she goes stark raving mad!

The following day we set off on our adventure and arrived at one of London’s busiest
department stores. I have to be honest, I wasn’t keen on the idea and, by the look of it,
neither were the other parents who were waiting patiently in line – all fifty of them…
Apparently, this store’s Santa was one of the best in the business – he’d been playing the
role for many years and had never received any complaints.

Understandably, Elodía kept asking me when it would be her turn to meet him.
As you can imagine, explaining to a 7-year-old child that they just have to be patient is like
attempting to go to the moon and back within 5 minutes – it can’t be done.

After waiting for well over two hours, making excruciating small talk with numerous
parents, and bursting at the seams to go to the toilet, it was finally time for us to see Santa.

We entered the grotto. The backdrop was quite stunning… beautiful frosted Christmas
trees… realistic-looking snowflakes – tinged with a shade of ice blue… a life-sized reindeer –
complete with red nose, and sleigh marks in the snow. Not forgetting Santa Claus himself…
long curly silver beard and just the right amount of paunch.

“Ho, Ho, Ho little lady, and what’s your name?”, he boomed, as he bent down to pick her
up.

Elodía, although hugely excited, can tend to be a bit shy on occasion, so she immediately
turned away and looked at me for some reassurance. I gave her a nod and a smile and told
Santa her name. He laid back in his huge plush chair, holding Elodía in the crook of his left
arm, ensuring that a broad grin quickly shone across her face.

At this point, I couldn’t help noticing how hot it was in there. In fact, even Santa’s forehead
was beading up with sweat – not a good look for someone dealing with children all day, I
thought. Not a good look at all. But no matter.

I got the impression that it had been a long day for him, and that he must be coming to the
end of his shift. His enthusiasm was clearly already waning.

“So, tell me Lydia…”, he began to ask. “Elodía”, I barked back, marking him down a couple of
points. He continued: “What would you like for Christmas? I’ve been told that you’ve been a
very good girl this year and deserve a lovely present”. At this point, I’m praying: ‘Don’t say a
pony, don’t say a pony. It’s not viable, there’s nowhere to keep it, and you’d get bored after
a week.’

I still have to clean the cage and feed the guinea pig we bought for her last birthday. He is
lovely though, he’s called Gucci. I’ve taught him to walk on his hind legs, which makes him
look remarkably like Charlie Chaplin. He just needs a little walking cane to twirl around – I’m
working on it.

Elodía opened her mouth, turned to Santa, and bizarrely declared: “It’s hot in here, Santa.
How do you heat your grotto? My daddy’s a plumber, he could fix your radiator if you
want?”

I said nothing, and Santa proceeded in delighting Elodía with a tale about how hard the
Elves were working on making sure that all the children around the world would get their
presents on Christmas Day. He then handed her a toy unicorn that looked like it had seen
better days. She handed him back one of my business cards.

The next day, I got the call. “Can you come and fix Santa’s radiator?” Since then, my daughter has managed to persuade the milkman and the local newsagent that they are in desperate need of a boiler inspection.

I’ve just promoted her to Head of Sales and Marketing.

Until next time, Buon Natale, stay safe, and be happy.

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