Thursday, 1 December 2011

Father Christmas Remembered

Between the years of 1998 and 2005
we had a tradition of taking the children up to 
Harrods in London on Christmas Eve
to visit Father Christmas.

This was the REAL Father Christmas,
as opposed his many look-alike helpers
to be found in supermarkets, garden centres 
and shopping centres.
In those days we simply turned up, prepared
to queue for hours (but we're
British so we're good at queuing) and we 
were well entertained by loads of elves
who also gave out bottles of water and cookies
(and one particularly memorable year when they 
handed out whistling lollies - that tested my 
goodwill to all men I can tell you!).

I think you have to book to see Father Christmas now.

As we got near to Father Christmas' Grotto
we were herded into small groups and escorted 
by elves into a tunnel in which
there were gorgeous tableaux featuring
scenes from a little story, different every year,
often including Father Christmas' toy making factory.

In my Grand Decluttering last month
I found all the photos we had taken
and it was lovely to see how Luke and Hope 
changed over the years
(as did Father Christmas!).

Luke will be especially overjoyed (NOT!) 
that I've found them.

(Here we have 'Dead-Eye Santa' with Hope, age 2, sucking her
thumb and holding onto her comfort tee-shirt, while
Luke, age 4, looks a little unsure - he'd probably just been given
 the 'stay away from strangers' chat!).

(Both children looking as pleased as punch!
That was Hope's 'photo face' for many months.
Lovely FC that year)

(Best FC ever!
 Luke now 6, starting to make typical
boy faces at camera.  Hope, 4, very happy!)

(FC was a bit weird this year, and rather wanted
Luke and Hope's Mummy to sit on his lap too.

(Sweet FC, tried really hard with monosyllabic children!
Frugal note: Hope, 6, wearing that dress for 2nd year running).)

(Same sweet FC.
Luke, 9, starting to ask awkward questions.....)

(Not actually sure this FC was alive.
Children still enjoyed meeting him!)

(This FC looks like he's just about had enough.
This is the last year we went - Luke, 11, was bribed to keep
his mouth shut having worked it all out.
His Iowa Slipknot sweatshirt a bit out of place in Santa's Grotto?!)

We still keep Christmas Eve as a special time for us 4,
we usually go to the cinema together or go out for a meal.
I've no doubt that as the children get older 
(Luke is now 17, Hope 15)
this will change, but I will always think of 
those Christmas Eve's at Harrods
with great fondness
(apart from the whistling lollies!).



Ann's Art said...

My hairdresser only just told me actually that about 13 years ago she took grandchildren up to Harrods on the same visit! She was very impressed with the grotto.

Heavens2Betsy said...

Ah Jo, this post has such a lovely feelgood factor about it. Great FC tales and lovely to see your children growing before our eyes. That first FC looks to me like he's just escaped from somewhere institutional! pen xxx

Serenata said...

How wonderful! We went one of those years...can't remember which one now, the photo used to hang up framed in our hallway for years and then it came down for some reason or another. I think it is great that you went for so many years.

Susan T said...

These photos are brilliant - such happy memories - you have two gorgeous children there Mrs U. The photos are family heirlooms to keep for ever. Just imagine your great grandchildren looking at their clothes and thinking how sweet they looked. Of course by then we will all be wrapped up in silver foil or something.

BadPenny said...

Aww these have brought a smile to my face. I love the collection of Santas ( some of whom look like the don't particularly like children !
Hhope & Luke's expressions are priceless !

craftattack said...

I love the faces of your FCs, and the photos of the kids are gorgeous, too. I wonder why you didn't like those whistling lollies? I used to give my class one each when they left school on the last day of term before the Xmas hols - I wonder what their parents thought of me??? Hugs, Valerie

Carmen said...

I love this post Jo. Some dodgy and possibly squiffy looking Santa's there :D I remember a year not to distant in the past when myself and my sister and friend, in a strop about not seeing Santa, gatecrashed the queue in a shopping center and demanded equal rights for adults LOL. We got in and got our piccy too. Again, he wanted someone on his knee... sis and I delegated friend for that while we rolled out our Christmas lists.

Wasn't that long ago - the year England had the big win at the rugby. Teehee!

Frau S said...

What a lovely tradition! And so funny to look back on the various FCs over the years. That first one is just wrong--he looks young and skinny and has no mouth opening!

Gina said...

Lovely photographs of the children and super memories... but I do find the FCs all a little disturbing.

sugar Creek said...

Oh my those are some great pictures! Yea that one did look as if he had enough,Lol and I wouldn't be sitting on his lap either!
Thanks for the comment on Sami and yes that phone was chucked pretty darn hard for it to do that!:{

Monica said...

Fabulous memories.

trisha too said...

Sweet memories and fun photos, Joanna!


MrCachet said...

What a truly delightful post! I enjoyed every photo and the narrative for each. Simply wonderful.

Kristin said...

Awe, these are SO AWESOME!!! I just put my collection of Kendra with Santa since she was 2 months old out - but your pictures take the cake! LOVE the smiles and changes over the years. And even though they may protest ;) I bet Luke and Hope still love seeing them brought out . . .
BTW, I wonder if the person who thought of handing out whistle lollys to tons of kids was invited back the next year . . . wow, what a crazy day that must have been, lol! xoxo

Katie said...

I think 2002-3 was the REAL Father Christmas! ha!
Those are some great Santa photos. I'll have to ask my mom if we did that---I don't remember doing it or seeing pics of me and my brother...calling mom now!

Trudi Sissons said...

What a LOVELY visit I just had - those photos year after year are just precious and I agree with Katie about 2002-3 was the real Father Christmas! And also with your comment about the earlier, "dead eye" FC - LOL.