Day Five: Visits from Santa
My mother is many things.
She is creative and fun, intelligent and beautiful, entrepreneurial and hilarious.
My mother is also Santa.
For as long as I can remember, my mum has prepared the most epic Santa scavenger hunts, puzzles and presents for my brothers and I. Even when all three of us knew that Santa Claus and his chimney-dwelling ways weren’t real, mum continued to surprise us with ‘visits from Santa’ each and every Christmas morning (besides one year when Jack, Hugo and I turned the tables and surprised mum instead – but more details on that later).
One of my fondest memories of Christmas and my childhood as a whole, really, was the Christmas of 1997. I was six years old and had bunk beds in my room. I woke up well before daybreak on Christmas morning to find an array of presents at the foot of my bed – most notably there was a big teddy bear wearing a yellow knitted jumper with the word ‘teddy’ stitched onto it and in his lap was Crash Bandicoot 2 for PlayStation. I remember holding my new teddy’s paw in one hand, tucking the game under the same arm and clumsily climbing down the ladder of my bunk-bed. I set the television and the PlayStation up and excitedly started playing my beloved Crash Bandicoot. By the time the sun eventually rose and the rest of my family started waking up I had already finished the game. It is still one of my mum’s – and actually, my whole family’s – favourite stories to tell around this time of year.
Since then, mum gets more and more creative with each year that passes. Sometimes there will be clues hidden around the house that leads each of us to different rooms where our presents are hiding, other times the three of us need to work together to get our presents and then some years she just decorates the hell out of the house so that when we would open our doors, we were immediately met with Christmas. It has been a long-standing tradition that my mum started, and I haven’t heard of anyone else’s parents who went to the lengths and creativity that my mum did. Christmas Day morning Santa visits are something that I will definitely be continuing the tradition of for my son.
One year when we were all still living under the same roof, each of us woke up and opened our bedroom doors to signs made from tissue paper and cotton buds that said “HO”. Loose cotton buds reminiscent of snow were scattered all the way down the hallway, down the stairs and to the Christmas tree where our gifts were waiting.
Another year, throughout the entire house, mum had hidden pieces of brown paper with partial clues written on them. All three of us had to find all of the pieces and figure out the clues which then lead us to our presents from mum.
One of my other favourite Santa visits was when we all walked downstairs and there were four milk crates that mum had wrapped and filled with tinsel and wrapping paper and cotton balls. We had to completely tear it apart and sift through it all to find whatever presents she had hidden in there. Similar to this, I think it was two years after that that in the middle of the lounge room was a HUGE pile of tinsel and other various Christmas decorations – and I mean HUGE.. once again we had to dig and search for what lay within it!
My brothers and I did give mum a break one year when we took over the reigns as Santa. Once mum had gone to bed and shut her door, my brothers and I strung three entire lengths of twine across the hallway and down the stairs in a zig-zaggy mess. We also printed out about thirty copies of Jason Bateman’s head (he is mum’s favourite) and hung them from the ceiling. We set her off on a scavenger hunt that led her through all of the string. She had to follow each clue to the next one until she eventually found her presents. From memory, I think they were in the dryer..
When we were really young, Mum and my brother’s dad used to do the whole plate of cookies, carrot sticks and half-drunk beer thing. Mum put flour on the kitchen floor and made it look like Santa and the reindeers had trundled on through, but that was soon replaced by mum’s epic creativity. I love what mum did for us because it was so unique and varied and we never knew what to expect. We looked forward to the hunt and surprise of it all more than the reward at the end of it. The visits from Santa have always made for a really fun way to start Christmas morning; there was always laughter, always love and always always hugs. What mum did for us year in and year out has stayed with me, and I cannot wait to give the same gift of fun and joy to my son.