Italian plumber Christmas Tale 2022

A Christmas Tale: Daddy, can we go to Lapland?

Christmas 2022

My last working day before Christmas was turning out to be a relatively peaceful one. My final job was to pop round to Mrs Tiggin’s – an elderly, regular customer of ours – and tighten her Lock Nut. A simple job. She’s always very grateful.

I finished up, wished her Merry Christmas, and began to make my way home.
I thought I’d get into the spirit of things by listening to something festive, so I turned on the radio. Johnny Mathis’ very moving ‘When a Child is Born’, was playing. I’d struck gold.

Then, my phone rang (I must change that God Father ring tone).
It was my daughter, Elodia. “Daddy, can we go to Lapland and see Father Christmas?”

This caught me completely off guard. I wasn’t planning on an outing that night.
In my head, the answer was a resounding no. Then I had an idea. I explained to her that Father Christmas does in fact come from the North Pole, and that that would be a more authentic place to visit.

My plan was to take her to the North Pole fish ‘n’ chip shop in the High Steet. It would teach her, by example, what ironic humour is. She’s quite sarcastic anyway, so I thought she’d appreciate it.

She was having none of it, and insisted on Lapland!
I said I’d ‘sort something out’, then hung up the call.

I pulled over by the side of the road and Googled “Christmas theme parks near me”.
One popped up. It was just 20 minutes away from home. I wasn’t bothered about the detail; how bad could it be? I wasn’t asking for much: Santa, a bit of fake snow, perhaps an elf or two.

I hit the call button and booked 2 tickets – hundred and fifty quid!!??
It would have been cheaper to fly to the real Lapland!
Oh, well. It had to be done.

I got home, and feeling quite chuffed with myself, announced to Elodia that the tickets were booked and we could go as soon as I’d had a bite to eat. Bursting at the seams, she excitedly responded: “I knew you wouldn’t let me down, Daddy. That’s why I’ve already got my bag packed”. I should have known.

“Well, darling”, I said, sheepishly: “We’re not actually going to THE LAPLAND. It’s more of a Santa’s second home… similar to rich people in London, but he doesn’t let it out as an Air BnB when he’s not there”.

With squinting eyes and tension mounting in my shoulders, I awaited her response.
Was she going to buy it?

“Okay, Daddy. Let’s go!”
Perfect! The plan had got off to a good start.
Thirty minutes later, we were merrily on our way.

When Elodia and I drive to unknown destinations, we like to change the Sat Nav voice to Professor Stephen Hawking. With him providing the directions, we feel calm and relaxed. Sometimes, we’ll even miss a turning, just so we can hear him speak a little longer.

Anyway, after a short, drama-free journey, the Professor informed us that we had arrived.
We then drove quietly up a very muddy, badly lit path and were greeted by a tired-looking sign, that read: Welcome to Napland. The home of a magical Christmas.

Napland!? What’s that meant to mean? Had we inadvertently turned up at a mattress wholesalers’ convention?

I looked at Elodia and, amazingly, she didn’t seem put off by the shabby first impression.
I was relieved, but sceptical.

We got to the end of the path, and was hurriedly ushered into a car park by an elf wearing a pair of battered Adidas trainers, and smoking a soggy cigarette. I say ‘car park’, it was more like a dumping ground for disused fairground attractions, set amongst a landscape of pot holes and scattered traffic cones.

We parked-up, and got out of the car. Ho, Ho, Ho, Merry Christmas everyone, was bellowing through the dark night sky from a speaker that clearly had a loose connection. It sounded nothing like Father Christmas… more like a Cold War, Soviet supermarket announcer. Elodia put her ear-warmers on, and held them tightly to her head.

As we strolled towards the crowd, the Christmas tree came into sight.
Something didn’t look right about it. Then I realised, it was a conifer.

We bought a couple of hot chocolates, and continued our adventure.
Next up, the reindeers. Obviously, it was too much to ask for real live ones.

I was always under the impression that there are eight reindeers in Santa’s herd.
However, we were re-educated. Turns out there are five, and they only have 18 legs between them. Rudolph didn’t even have a shiny, red nose. More of a scabby-pink one.

It was now official: this place wasn’t even worthy of being called Napland.
It was definitely Crapland.

By this time, Elodia was understandably fed up. The poor thing, her expectations knocked clean out of the ballpark. I had to make it up to her. Perhaps a visit to Santa’s Grotto would save the day.

We joined the queue, and waited patiently. The fake snow that surrounded the Grotto was rapidly turning into slippery sludge.

Two elves skidded up to Elodia, nearly sending her flying, and asked her what she wanted for Christmas. Elodia then proceeded to recite a long list, including a karaoke machine.
The elves said that they couldn’t make any guarantees, but to have a Merry Christmas. And with that, they slipped sideways to speak with the next child.

After waiting for at least an hour in the freezing cold, it was finally our turn to see Father Christmas. Elodia was excited, and I had a feeling of impending doom. What were the chances of this turning out well?

We stepped through the frayed curtain, and was met by the jolliest, most life-like Father Christmas we’d ever seen. He was glowing, and welcomed Elodia up on to his knee.

At this point, I was just so happy that, despite everything, at least Santa had pulled it off.
By the time I had come out of my dreamlike state, he was handing Elodia a karaoke machine, complete with batteries. Jackpot!

She thanked Father Christmas, handed him one of my business cards, and said goodbye.

“Daddy, that was the best Christmas adventure we’ve ever been on.” She announced, lovingly. Relieved, I said: “I think so too, darling. Merry Christmas.”

If you enjoyed this story, read a Christmas Tale 2020 and 2021.

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