The Bloke, December 16: My daughter is questioning Santa’s existence. She’s three.

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NO one ever thinks of the parents, do they? Here we are, trying our damndest to keep our children believing in Father Christmas for as long as possible (the Missus has set her sights, somewhat unrealistically, on the age of 10) and the rest of the world is determined to make it as hard as possible.

NO one ever thinks of the parents, do they? Here we are, trying our damndest to keep our children believing in Father Christmas for as long as possible (the Missus has set her sights, somewhat unrealistically, on the age of 10) and the rest of the world is determined to make it as hard as possible.

There used to be only one Santa doing the rounds. When me and my sister were growing up we would be taken to the local department store, instructed to sit on Santa’s knee (a strict no-no these days) and forced to engage in a shy, stilting conversation with him.

We would each be rewarded with a gaudily-wrapped gift with ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ scrawled on them respectively and then pushed blinking back into the brightly-lit womenswear department. And that would be the last we saw of the big man for another 12 months, although we knew he’d be paying us a visit on Christmas Eve to leave us a Buck Rogers outfit and a Girl’s World.

What most certainly didn’t happen was that we kept bumping into Santa everywhere we went, thus making us question how exactly he could be making a list and checking it twice, never mind getting all those presents together, when he was busy making more public appearances than Posh and Becks.

We popped into the supermarket the other day with our children and there he was, sitting on top of a Rotary Club float while Wizzard blared out of the tinny speakers beneath him. As we walked past he stepped off (I suspect for a fag break) and exchanged a few perfunctory words with the children before telling me how he once did this in New Zealand where, and I quote, “the sweat was literally pouring off me”.

A friend told me how his daughter is due to go to two Christmas parties in one day – and Santa will be putting in an appearance at both.

“When the second one asks her what she wants for Christmas she’s going to smell a rat,” he said. “I’m just going to have to tell her Santa’s got a short memory.”

We took the twins on their official visit to Father Christmas (as opposed to the ones where he just happens to be in the same vicinity as us) at the weekend.

Thankfully, unlike last year’s debacle, they didn’t tell him they wanted to unwrap poo on Christmas morning, but neither was particularly forthcoming beyond coming out with “dinosaur” and “dolly” – neither of which they had mentioned previously in a clear bid to saddle us with some last-minute shopping.

“Did you like Father Christmas?” the Missus asked them as we came out.

“Yes,” nodded my son.

“He was different,” said my daughter.

“How do you mean?”

“He was a different Father Christmas to last time,” she said matter-of-factly.

It might have been the wind, but I swear I saw a tear form in the Missus’ eye. It looks like she’ll miss her target by just the seven years.