The Confessions of Secret Santa

Isn’t it amazing how exhausted you can feel, sitting watching children dart around a room! We’d come to the ‘Eureka!’ children’s museum in Halifax, where Grandson Sam began with half an hour in the Soundspace gallery. Here, he’d chased a beam of light around the floor. He’d followed this up with a stint in the Spark gallery, stamping on a platform in time to fire fish into a monster’s mouth.

Our daughter Helen, Jane and I had just sat down with Sam to ‘rest’, in full view of a life-sized Archimedes who is lowered into his bath on the half hour. We watched as gallons of water overflowed into a tank downstairs. Once the great man has finished his ablutions, the water is pumped back to the now-empty bath via an ‘Archimedes Screw’, one of his inventions that was used to pump water into irrigation channels throughout the ancient world.

Sam wasn’t impressed. Maybe one day he’ll become a scientist, but for the present he proved more interested in being a postman, donning a Royal Mail bag and collecting parcels and letters from the sorting office. Whilst we three adults munched our sandwiches, Sam used his newly acquired reading skills distributing mail to the Halifax bank, the library, the kitchen and ‘the dig’ (street repairs). It kept him happy for a whole hour, during which he met many other like-minded children, none of whom were on strike.      

Finally, the inevitable visit to ‘The Shop’. Auntie Helen wanted to buy Sam a Christmas present. He chose a Lego ‘velociraptor’, and later spent some father-and-son time with dad Martin following one of the three designs in the instructions.

I had the honour of organising Secret Santa this year. Every adult family member is asked by the organiser to buy one present for someone else, and we donate the money saved to charity. Sam is included although he gets multiple presents, so he has the best of both worlds! Anyway, this year he was asked to buy for Auntie Helen. She’d said she’d like a specific cup and saucer that fit on top of a tea pot.

We couldn’t be together on Christmas day so we sent the presents and then met on Zoom to open them. We left Helen’s present until last, and Sam was very patient until the moment arrived, when I produced this parcel that was labelled:

Nobody could possibly have guessed who’d written it! Inside was a teapot and saucer – the cup’s having to be sent later as the original was damaged in the post. Both had been beautifully hand-decorated in acrylic paint, the work of Secret Santa himself (with a bit of help from his mum, perhaps?).

In my blog posts I usually draw out a spiritual lesson from my stories. Today I simply want to bask in the enjoyment that ‘giving and receiving’ gave us over Christmas, and especially the fun of seeing Sam anticipate the pleasure that his efforts had brought to Auntie Helen whose sense of humour adds such a lot to these occasions…

…and, of course, to wish you a Happy New Year!   

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