An Unexpected Evening Out

My other half announced this morning that we were heading out into town tonight as a familya Christmas surprise from her to all of us. We were allowed to know that it would start at a pub in town for a meal, so we had to have a wash, change our clothes, and at least look presentable (because of course we slob around in worn jeans and t-shirts at home, like everybody else does).

The meal was wonderful. For the first time I can remember in ages we were all in good spirits. After eating, drinking, and making merry, we were finally let in on the rest of the secret (I had already figured it out, but kept quiet). We were off to visit Santa’s Elves for their private Christmas party I cannot describe our youngest daughter’s face at that moment.

The journey to the theatre was an adventureand not a good one.

En route we had to pass the latest pub opened by Tom Kerridge (celebrity TV chef)and given the kind of place my home town is, it is attracting all the people who want to be seenthe entitled, wealthy, and self obsessed. The crowd around the door forced me to walk into the traffic in the road with my two youngest childrenducking to avoid fur coated women puffing on cigarettes, oblivious to anything except themselves. A gentlemen a little further along the path that had just had to pass the same obstacle shouted back to us “tell them to get out of the f*cking way!“he didn’t look happy at all.

I can’t remember seeing so many people smoking in town. Ever. I can’t actually think of many people I know that smoke. None of my co-workers do, and very few of my friendstwo, perhapsout of maybe fifty people. And yet outside that pub the entire path was blocked by maybe twenty people smoking like chimneys, and stamping the cigarette buts into the pavement. It looked dreadfulthere were hundreds of discarded cigaretteswalked into the pavement for quite some distance.

Anyway.

We arrived at the theatre, and were immediately greeted by Santa’s elveswho took our coats, gave us Santa hats, and ushered us to our seats. What followed was really quite wonderful. We have been to visit the Jam Theatre company beforedeep in the heart of London to see the children’s dance teacher perform in a show. This time the stage was much smaller, the audience more intimate, and the experience much more personal. After singing a number of songs, and playing games (I ended up being pulled to the front with several other Dads to find out how many marshmallows I could fit in my mouth), everything lurched to a halt when bells were heard outside, and the sound of hooves on the roof rattled through the room.

Oh. My. Word. Our youngest daughter nearly turned inside out.

When Santa burst into the room, she couldn’t believe her eyes (and it was a damn good Santa tooin the style of Richard Attenborough’s turn from “Miracle on 34th Street”). She was too star-struck to dare take a turn to visit him on the stage with the other childrentucking in close to her Mum, but not taking her eyes off him.

Leaving the theatre at the end of the evening recalled childhood memories of leaving the cinema. The children were walking on airskipping, laughing, and recounting their favourites moments (my marshmallow turn ranked quite highly). Perhaps tonight bolstered our younger children’s faith in the reality of Santa enough to get them through one more year. It will be sad when they don’t believe any more