Santa stories

I can never predict how a Sunday morning will start. Last weekend Lavinia slept through till almost eight. Lakshmi was delighted to wake up first. I put my newspaper away and we snuggled up exchanging whispers till Lavinia gradually woke up. It was one of our good days. This Sunday started with a cry. Lavinia woke up asking for her mum. It was enough to wake Lakshmi up and I ended up with two grumpy children. They bickered for a while, both wanting to sleep next to me. It would have been easy if Lakshmi let me sleep in the middle but that was too easy a solution. To distract them I showed them video messages. “Wow”, both exclaimed as they watched ships being launched into sea for the first time rocking as if they were about to tip to one side and go underwater before they balanced and stood up straight again. “Fantastico”, Lakshmi gave her seal of approval before they both got up and played for a while leaving me in peace to read my paper. 

It is that time of the year when charities jostle for attention and we wonder who needs it the most or if we were to spread it, how do we decide. Last year’s Times appeal was for school children who went hungry during the school holidays. Children who rely on their schools to provide a meal. The only substantial meal they could look forward to each day. A letter to Santa for a Christmas dinner instead of toys by a child was enough to grab one’s attention. This year the situation has got worse with school closures and lockdowns. A charity distributing nutritious food which would otherwise be thrown away by the high street chains and homelessness are once again top of the priority list. I read stories of people whose lives have been turned around by these charities. It is frightening to hear how people with good lives and jobs end up on the streets. I once read about a well known Hollywood script writer who ended up homeless. It is quite easy to label them as alcoholics and drug addicts, but I also learned that they start taking these mind numbing drugs to get them through the bitterly cold nights during these dark and wintry months. The only way they can close themselves off from reality and get some sleep. 

The Santa stories I read today remind me that Santa is in fact real. He may not come in a bright red suit with a flowing snowy beard, but in the form of ordinary folk going about their daily lives. People who dedicate themselves to help change the future of those who have fallen on bad times. The second virus surge has taken on a sinister twist and the caseload is rising. Our tier system has gone from two to three. The year is ending very much the way it was in the early spring. Uncertainty looms, the only hope or light at the end of the tunnel is the introduction of the vaccines. We wait to see what the future holds, but from these stories I know that with or without Covid-19, life can change dramatically without any warning. It certainly has been a year when the saying, living in the moment has taken a life of its own. The only thing we can be absolutely certain of. 

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