Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Father Christmas

I remember lying in bed on Christmas Eve and hearing sleigh bells in the far, far distance.

No, really. I'm not making it up. That's a genuine memory. Auto suggestion, I suppose.

I wasn't afraid of Father Christmas, but I was in awe. After all, he was a spirit wasn't he- a supernatural being?

As I got older I started to worry about the logistics. Did one have to fall back on a paranormal explanation? In the end I decided there had to be at least two of him. I imagined a conspiracy of men in overcoats and cloth caps- black market types- meeting in pubs and transport cafes- exchanging furtive nods- talking out of the sides of their mouths. "I'll do the South side of town if you'll do the North"

It bothers me that we've cheapened Father Christmas.  Too many crap Hollywood movies, too many adverts.The last thing we should be doing with him is using him to sell things. (Damn you, Coca Cola.)

There was a theory that did the rounds a few years back which had him starting life as a Siberian shaman- who . wears red and white because those are the colours of the fly agaric he takes to make him "fly". It was utter bosh but it was bosh that tended in the right direction.

Kids get quite enough cuteness in their lives. What they need is strangeness. Less of the cutesy old Santa, more of the roaring giant who is Dickens's Spirit of Christmas Present.

On Countryfile the other week they showed us a Father Christmas who had shucked his red robes and reverted to the traditional green. Also he was wearing a wreath of ivy and pine. Just that slight, little adjustment- that hint of the ancient and unfamiliar- and the frosty old magic was back.
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