The Nocturnal Dad | Episode 9 | Guardians of Christmas Future

Around four years ago, I started to believe in Father Christmas again.

I remember the moment well. I was snuggled up with Drama (then 3 years old) watching Santa Clause the Movie (the one with the real Father Christmas and Dudley Moore as the real elf) when the magic hit me clean between the eyes – the bearded fat man rides again and he’s more real than ever! This moment of realisation completed the circle. From childhood to adulthood, to middle-aged-man-child, to a Guardian of Christmas Future. I am not drunk on Baileys, let me explain.

In 1985 I was nine years old and a Believer. We went to see Santa Clause the Movie on Christmas Eve. It is not a great film to watch in 2018 but back then, for a Christmas hyped 9-year old, it was amazing. Not since E.T. had confirmed the existence of aliens 3 years earlier, had I felt such wonder and excitement. The feeling even eclipsed the thrill of other 1985 movies that would go on to become some of my favourites of all time. A time travelling DeLorean powered by a Flux Capacitor was (probably) make-believe but Santa Clause with his sleigh and reindeer was magic and therefore absolutely real. That would be my last Christmas as a Believer for the next 29 years.

December 1986. I was 10 and getting a bit of stick in the playground as one of the few remaining Believers, thanks to my mum and dad who were incredible at conjuring magic, especially at Christmas. I had been spending a lot of time with my mate who was a whole school year older than me, which is huge in the playground cred stakes. We had been hanging out at his house rehearsing the entire Licence to III album, (acapella-cruelty to parents) when he asked me if I still believed. I remember feeling a bit embarrassed and in the moment said, no. I’ll never forget his approving look back at me. For the first time ever, I had doubt. That evening, I told my mum that I knew and there was no point in her lying about it. I didn’t mean what I was saying, it was a test. But I was convincing and to my horror, she gave me a hug and said “ok darling, I’m so sorry. Please keep the magic going for your brothers”. I burst into tears. My mum burst into tears. My dad walked in and he burst into tears. I said, “The tooth fairy? Easter Bunny? E.T.? Dudley Moore? Paul Daniels?”. More tears ensued as the halo of childhood innocence and assumed immortality obliterated around me in a soot cloud of magic dust. In that instant, I knew what it felt like to be a grown-up. It sucked.

My mum and dad had installed enough magic in us for me to understand the importance of helping them to keep conjuring it for my younger brothers. While I was loyal, it did provide powerful ammunition in higher level present negotiations – horrible little bastard. Father Christmas still came to the Believers in our house that year but my presents were left under the tree by my parents.

My mum talks about the lonely Christmas years when we were all grown up, going to parties, visiting girlfriends and taking a week to open our stockings that she still hung and which Father Christmas still filled for us (and still does!). Looking back, I can see how gutted she was that the magic had gone. I think my dad was pleasantly relieved. He is a big talker but would be conspicuously quiet around conversations orchestrated by my mum, I suspect through sheer fear of dropping a clanger and going down in family history as the Real Bad Santa.

So here I am today, suddenly in my own Christmas Future and a parent of two Believers. It’s turned Rock Solid and I into Believer’s again too and Christmas hasn’t been so much fun since 1985. But with it, comes big responsibility – we are now Guardians of Christmas Future and the magic conjuring is on us.

For inspiration I look to my parents who never had much money but always pulled it out of the bag. Whether you’re skint or loaded, magic can and must be conjured. One of the coolest things I remember from my childhood is my mum explaining how ‘The Blue Beacon’ was deployed from the North Pole as a good behaviour monitoring satellite in the weeks leading up to Christmas Eve (although, we were hooligans so I suspect this was part magic-making and part behavioural management strategy). If you look closely at the sky after dusk you’ll see it is still up there today, in fact Drama and Rib Kicker spotted it last night and I had to explain that it has special clearance from airports as not to disrupt flight paths (Rib Kicker is very health and safety aware for a four-year-old). I also remember as if it were yesterday, my dad hooking out Dashers ankle bell from the guttering on Christmas morning, which I think surprised him even more than us. Then there was the half chewed carrots dropped from the sky across the garden and discovered days later to keep the excitement flowing. But most captivating of all in my memory was the fantastical scrawled handwriting on the tags of the presents under the tree which could not have possibly been written by a mere mortal. These things take Father Christmas time, effort and imagination but the details burn into the minds of little Believers in such a deep way that the magic can be channelled and conjured again by their grown-up selves for the next generation of believers – our grandkids – in their Christmas future.

Whilst toys and tech become more enticing and our kids become more fixated with ‘stuff’, it is up to us, the Guardians of Christmas Future, to continue the conjuring of magic because that’s the stuff that will stay with our kids in a way that a Millennium Falcon (1985 – got one) or an X Box (2018 – no chance) will never do.

Six Top Tips for Guardians of Christmas Future

  • Leave talcum powder on the floor by the door or fireplace, to capture his boot marks or check for soot footprints
  • Check around the front door keyhole or fireplace for traces of glittering gold entry point dust
  • Look for signs of disruption near the tree such as a fallen chair, crumbs dropped across the floor or a stray present in the fireplace – he’s in a rush and can sometimes be clumsy
  • Check the roof gutters for physical evidence of debris, such as sleigh bells, chewed carrots etc.
  • Listen out for hoofs on the roof
  • Check the sky for The Blue Beacon North Pole satellite, if you spot it then it’s highly probable that you’re in for a visit on Christmas Eve

Missed previous episodes? Catch up with The Nocturnal Dad’s adventures here

Follow the @TheNocturnalDad on Twitter – this man needs as much help as he can get.

Illustration by Dominic Murray @no_subs_blog


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