Father Christmas
by Lynn White

I was so excited.
It was nearly Christmas
and I was going to meet
Father Christmas himself.

I was so excited,
wearing my best coat and bonnet,
hopping from one foot to the other
in the long queue of children
waiting with their mums
to be allowed into Santa’s Grotto.

I was so excited.
We were nearly there.
I could see the grotto
with its tinsel and fairy lights
I was going to sit on his knee
and have my picture taken,
and that was in an age when
photographs were even rarer
than Christmases.

I was so excited.
There were the elves . . .
But wait.
they were cardboard.
Where were the real elves,
the magic ones,
why weren’t they there?
“They’re much too busy,”
my mum said.
“But Father Christmas will be real.”

We paid our money
and there he was.
He really was.
I couldn’t wait to climb on his knee
and examine his beard.
I’d never seen a beard before.
But he was very tetchy when I pulled at it
and told me to stop.
Then it went lopsided
and I realised
it was a false beard
and I told him so, angrily.
He put it back.
“Stop thy wriggling,” he said.
“You’re not the real one,
I don’t want to sit on your knee.”

Flash went the camera.

And outside there was a queue of children
to be addressed.
Hands on hips.
“He’s not the real one.
He’s got a false beard.
He’s not magic at all,
they’re cheating you!”
Then the store manager came.

I was so excited.

PHOTOGRAPH: The author at age three, at a Sheffield, UK, department store.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy and reality. Her poem “A Rose For Gaza” was shortlisted for the Theatre Cloud “War Poetry for Today” competition in October 2014 and has since been published in the Poetry For Change Anthology by Vending Machine Press. Poems have also recently been included, or are forthcoming, in Harbinger Asylum’s A Moment To Live By Anthology and their literary journal, Stacey Savage’s We Are Poetry: An Anthology of Love Poems, In The World Of Womyn’s She Did It Anyway Anthology, the launch issue of Anomalie and Callope and Phizzog among others.