This year it was a bigger event. Twelve kids including the main two. I arrived and Melissa was run off her feet. She snuck me into the house then tried to make sure I was comfy while holding everything else together! The kids had scattered reindeer food out to tempt Father Christmas down and were being kept busy singing and colouring in stuff to give me until I was ready to appear. After a couple of false starts, Melissa managed to get me out the front door without any of the children noticing, then I got to knock and make an entrance.
The kids were over the moon. Melissa had given them all name badges to make my life easier, but by the time I got in, Damon had removed his. I remembered his face and was 99% sure it was Damon, but erred on the side of 'my boy' until the right time came. Nothing worse than looking to a kid and saying "hello Damon" only to have a kid behind me say in a hurt voice, "Santa, I'm here!"
I was also given presents to hand out. They all had names on them, so there were prezzies for each kid. That was fun, I'd never had proper, personalised presents to give out to a group before. Each child would come up, get their present, pause to get a piccie taken with me and then I'd dig out the next one.
The kids sang me Christmas songs, I had one happy, cheeky girl that kept coming up and tickling my Santa hat, and a boy that seemed a little distant when I first came in, but came up two or three separate times with a huge smile on his face as he gave me yet another hug.
How much does my job rock?
Skyla and Damon remembered me well from last year, and we talked a little about some of the things that had happened, including giving their dad a gift and getting him to sit on my knee, which they still thought was hilarious.
Skyla is a bright, personable kid, the sort that it's a pleasure to meet. I hope she goes far, because my gut tells me she's capable of it. Damon is a little more distracted, preferring to play than talk with me, which is fine. His swimming seems to be going well, as the present Santa gave him this year was a pair of swim goggles, which he proceeded to put on almost immediately... without adjusting them.
As the goggles started to try and become close personal friends with the bones of his skull, and the rubber strap began to bisect his head horizontally, he looked up at me with his now hideously distorted face and said in a pained voice, "Santa, you made them too small." Fortunately his dad was there to help him adjust them before he was permanently disfigured.
Eventually it was time for me to go. The kids all came out and wanted to see me fly off. Fortunately one of the mums told them I'd be flying over the backyard when I left, so they all raced out there to watch me. After getting footage of me getting a hug from Melissa and walking off, I was snuck back into the house to get changed.
Melissa was happy. Things had gone as well as could be expected with a dozen children to deal with. I thanked her for including me in their family tradition once again. I really do feel honoured to be a special part of their Christmas. Once I'd gotten back into my normal clobber, she invited me in to have something to eat and have a proper chat and drink, but I declined. If I went in, there's a chance some of the kids would put two and two together. Santa's gone and now there's this adult we haven't seen walking around... heeeey... They may not, but as much as I would have loved to joined in for a few minutes, I'd rather miss out than risk spoiling the magic.
Spoke to Melissa and told her that, unless something major happened in either Sharon's work or mine to keep us here, next year would be my last Melbourne Christmas for a while. I'm sad about that. If we do go ahead and do the shift, I will suggest getting together with them one day after Chrissy next year. I'd like to be able to interact with them and their children as a person at some point, as I do feel like I'm a very small part of the family.
No matter what else I get to do as Santa, Skyla and Damon will always occupy a special place in my heart.