by Wendy Pike
The chances of us getting away on holiday this year seem as remote as a weekend break on the moon yet I’m constantly day dreaming about holidays. I’m craving a break at the seaside and fixated on swimming in the sea. Not in the cold, cloudy waters of Southend-on-Mud, although I wouldn’t mind a day trip there if the Essex riviera wasn’t quite so crowded, but somewhere with pretty sandy beaches and sparkling, clear, turquoise water. The kind of sea that shimmers on the surface with dancing diamonds of sunlight. Somewhere warm. Somewhere not here at Stop-at-Home.
In the grand scheme of things amidst the ongoing chaos and fear of the coronavirus pandemic it does sound pretty selfish. But dreaming of holidays and what I’ll do when all this is over is kind of keeping me vaguely sane. I realise I’m not alone in this longing. Even Santa is missing his usual summer break. How do I know this? … I saw him yesterday. And it wasn’t even close to gin and tonic o’clock.
“YMCA. It’s fun to stay at the YMCA …” I leaped off the sofa to the window in a couple of strides to check out the commotion, wondering which inconsiderate neighbour had put their car stereo on so loud. Instead I was greeted by an astonishing sight. It was Santa. And he was waving at me.
I ran to the kitchen to get my phone. I knew I had to get photographic evidence otherwise nobody in my family would believe me about this surreal, surprise, mega-celebrity appearance. Santa in our street. In daylight. In June.
By the time I reached the front door, Santa’s red sleigh, pulled by a couple of reindeer, assisted by a black Range Rover, was more than halfway down our short road. The tune had changed to the Beach Boys. “Bar Bar Bar, Bar Bar Bra Ann, Bar Bar Bar, Bar Bar Bra Ann …”
Some helpers in masks, possibly elves or security guards, walking either side of the sleigh noticed me sprinting down the road and told the reindeer to ‘Whoa there!’ Then the world famous white bearded one, dressed in jeans, pineapple print, turquoise, Hawaiian shirt and white fur-rimmed red Santa hat, posed for a photo exclusively for me. He was holding aloft an orange and yellow starfish-shaped inflatable ring.
Clearly the deers’ antlers and hooves had recently been painted and polished, pristine white. Their brown bodies festooned with red and white twinkle lights and gold bells. Tastefully so, not overdone at all. Completing their festive look, tinsel garlands of green leaves and pine were draped around their necks. The sleigh was also bedecked in twinkle lights along with swags of red glittery tinsel, tracing the profile of the trusty, ancient vehicle.
Having mulled over the most exciting event, not just of lockdown but of my life, and analysed the clues, I’ve concluded that: Santa couldn’t take his usual summer break in Hawaii due to the coronavirus pandemic. Because of his great age, he is in the high risk category and so has to be extra careful about shielding and self isolating.
Santa loves a beach holiday, preferably somewhere hot, but cannot swim. He never takes his red bobble hat off, no matter what the temperature. Like me, he’s partial to a Pina Colada on holiday. He has two favourite reindeer. Rudolph isn’t one of them. It’s Dancer and Prancer as they live to party and love a disco. Santa also likes disco but will bop to a bit of rock and roll when the mood grabs him. Whilst Santa cannot get away on holiday this year, he’s decided to make the most of things and do what he does best which is cheer people up, spreading a little happiness to counteract the endemic gloom.
What I cannot fathom is why Santa is locked down in Essex with his reindeer and not in the North Pole. What I find even more incredible than seeing the actual, timeless, legend, in the flesh, is that nobody else in my street took any notice of his surprise visit. I know I didn’t dream it. I’ve got the photo to prove it.
If everything happens for a reason, I’m certain Santa’s visit is a reminder for me to get on and do what I can do and stop fretting about what I can’t do. So I’ve decided to follow Santa’s good example by trying to make the best of things, holiday-wise and in general. At the top of my shopping list this week are white rum, pineapple juice and coconut cream. I’m starting with a Pina Colada to get me in the holiday spirit. I may even work my way up to braving a day trip to Southend.