Do we possess a direct line to Santa, yet will he respond?

‘Dear Santa’ it begins, as my son is not yet fluent enough in English to refrain from uttering the ridiculous notion of ‘Father Christmas’. ‘I hope You ARE WELL’ it continues, displaying a delightful touch of concern that demonstrates his impeccable manners.

Every family has their own tradition for communicating with St. Nicholas. I knew children who sent their Christmas letters up the chimney, where it would miraculously make its way to the North Pole and be transformed, piece by piece, by Santa’s elves.

Our friend Mary actually possesses Santa’s phone number and makes sure her son Bill understands that any naughty behavior will be reported directly to Santa himself. I wouldn’t say it has completely prevented misbehavior, but I will admit that ever since our son heard this from Bill, he has been oddly well-behaved whenever Mary is around.

More recently, I’ve heard of children who abandon written letters altogether and instead choose to send emails or WhatsApp videos to Santa. For some inexplicable reason, I find this blasphemous. Therefore, when it came to his most significant correspondence of the year, I handed my son a pen to do it the old-fashioned way.

I explained that it is customary to emphasize that he has been good this year, so Santa can verify this with his records. Taking this literally, he opts for the concise statement, ‘I was Being a good BoY,’ before swiftly moving on to the main task at hand: ‘FoR Christmas I would LikE a Minecraft Lego pumpkin FaRm Set AnD AN Axolotl House.’

A quick search on Google revealed these to be oddly accurate descriptions of Minecraft Lego products that he must have been eyeing.

Since we will be in Ireland for Christmas, his grandmother sent him a catalogue from a local toy store. It’s the kind of sacred document that would have filled my five-year-old self with awe. Correction: it still does. Despite not recognizing most of the items for sale, within 10 seconds of flipping through it, I become mesmerized, captivated by the action figures that still excite me just as much as they did when I was his age.

By the time I force myself to put it down, I am filled with greed, convinced that I – a 38-year-old father of two – should personally own at least 70% of the products within. However, my son remains unimpressed.

As a blasphemous citizen of the modern world, he derives all his toy ideas from YouTube videos, so perusing a printed collection of toys fills him with less wonder than it does me. Perhaps sensing my disappointment, he picks up the catalogue and pretends to find its contents as awe-inspiring as I do.

‘Call Bill’s mommy,’ he says, ‘and have her inform Santa that I’ve been a good boy.’

Did Ye Hear Mammy Died? by Séamas O’Reilly is out now (Little, Brown, £16.99). Buy a copy from guardianbookshop at £14.78

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