We believe in a magical Christmas in our family. The reality of Father Christmas has to be believed in for as long as possible. Because he only visits those who truly believe right?
Since my children were born I have been asked by Father Christmas to be one of his official helpers. Not actually an elf because although I'm the right height I'm not actually very good at making toys. Father Christmas would get all the gifts for our children and ask me to hide them away for him in our house so that his sack wasn't too heavy on Christmas Eve. This was a bit of a tricky one for me because I happened to have two very inquisitive children and there was nowhere in the house that would have been a safe refuge for Santa's gifts to be hidden away.
Well, nowhere IN the house, but the loft was definitely out of bounds. In those days we didn't have a loft ladder attached to the loft hatch so to get up there would have involved them in dragging a step ladder up the stairs from the garage and I think I would have noticed if they had been trying that! Now this was all fine and dandy for Father Christmas, his sack was nice and light for his big night out with Rudolf, but I then had to somehow get his presents down out of the loft and into sacks after the children had gone to sleep. And we all know how long it takes to get to sleep on Christmas Eve don't we?
About this time, it started to become popular for people to decorate the outside of their houses. It hadn't been that big a thing in the UK until then, we did the inside beautifully but the outside was left more or less untouched. So when people started adding coloured lights outside, and sparkly icicles from guttering, and illuminated statues in the garden it was very exciting.
So we came up with a cunning plan. On Christmas Eve we would go to the Nativity service at the church to sing carols and come home, have tea, bath and get into pyjamas and then I (being Chief Elf) would put the children in the car and drive around the local streets, checking out the external decorations and voting for which street had the prettiest houses. Meanwhile, back at home Deputy Chief Elf would be up in the loft, sorting out gifts and bringing them down to the spare bedroom to be hidden away until Father Christmas visited during the night to arrange them by bedsides. These were the days before mobile phones and Chief Elf had to stay out as long as possible to give Deputy Elf time to get everything organised because she had no way of knowing how things were going back at home!
When I drive past decorated houses I still remember those long drives in the dark, with two excited, tired children in the back and how we managed to help Santa prolong the magic as long as possible.