Mirror Magazine
24th December 2000
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Confessions of a girl Santa 

By Ms. Claus
A Christmas party for orphans! My friends had surpassed themselves this time when trying to come up with our good deed for Christmas that year. "Of course, I'll help. What do you want me to do?" I said, never realising that those words belonged to the 'famous last words' category. Then I noticed the kind of funny smiles and the conspirational winks my friends were exchanging. "Er, so what exactly do you have in mind?"

They wanted me to be Santa Claus. Santa Claus! Me!! I nearly passed out. I could think of a million reasons why I couldn't be Santa. Unfortunately the devilish one who thought up this idea, which everyone hailed as brilliant for some reason, wasn't buying any of it. "But I'm a girl," I pleaded in desperation, abandoning all my usually feminist stance. 

All in vain. A few weeks later I found myself driving around Colombo trying to put together a Santa outfit. I never realised how difficult it was. Borrowed red kit from an acclaimed Santa, black boots from another kind friend, cotton wool from the pharmacy, a huge belt from a not so thin uncle, a couple of cushions from home (my mother let them go with a stern 'for goodness' sake bring them back') and finally I was ready for my 'big' appearance. 

A mastered 'ho, ho, ho' and a couple of practised jokes later, I was amidst kids - having fun - when my friend sidled up to me and whispered "time for you to get ready". 

'Getting ready' was a lot harder than I expected. I'll never forget those moments of agony. No wonder Santa does his rounds only once a year. It probably takes him something like 365 days to get ready. I by no means was an expert at this and added to that I was surrounded by my giggling so-called friends, who didn't help one bit (i.e. except for the few inane suggestions they had). I was a walking wreck. The cushions kept sliding making me look horribly pregnant instead of round and robust. The beard refused to stick, until a thick mixture of Chemifix and UHU was coated on my face and the cotton wool was literally smashed onto it by my ever-helpful friends. The shoes were too big and made me walk funny, the pants kept sliding down because the belt for some reason didn't hold it up and by then I was hot and sweaty despite the fan going at full speed. I felt far from Santa Claus and was beginning to feel one with Scrooge. Christmas, Santa Claus! Bah! Humbug! 

Finally with a bit of help from some sympathetic adults I was ready. Looking into the mirror I was shocked. I was a great looking Santa (if I may say so myself). Even my friends agreed. Suddenly I was feeling a little happier, but I was still hot and bothered, faced with the prospect of amusing a bunch of exuberant kids (all boys) for the rest of the afternoon. Yup, the 'Scrooge feeling' was still very much there.

And then before one could say 'bah, humbug', I was out there putting on my deep voice and 'ho, ho, ho-ing' away to glory. I was dancing with some kids, singing with others and saying a couple of jokes occasionally (I was slightly taken aback with the response - I never thought those half-baked jokes were funny). Of course, it wasn't a walk in the park. I had to evade the more curious ones who wanted to tug at my beard to check if it was real and laugh off the suspicious inquiries as to whether I was the 'Akki' in the green blouse who had suddenly vanished. I forgot how hot it was and got carried away with all the fun. This was what they called 'Christmas cheer' and it sure was cheerful. 

My moment of glory was when I had to give out the presents. I could have hooted with laughter when the boisterous 10-year-olds confided in me about how they hated girls. If only they knew they were sitting on a girl's lap! I was the sole receiver of the whispered wishes of goodwill. And boy, did I feel small. I went into that party as if I was doing everyone a favour. But in one afternoon they taught me what it was like to forget about my discomfort and give of myself a bit. And in return, I was blessed with love. Love from those little kids and from my grateful friends. Gee, it sure felt nice to be loved like that. 

Take it from me, being Santa Claus is one occupation that gives you tons of job satisfaction. Besides, you work only once a year. But for all you Santas out there a parting word of advice - three o'clock in the afternoon is not a very good time for us living far away from the North Pole. Us Santas living in the tropics, so close to the equator, need to be a little realistic when planning good deeds. 

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