The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Father Christmas

Christmas gooseMy sister’s bedroom door was ajar. She had just started school and was closeted with her new friend, May Ashmore. Two years younger, I was feeling the age gap. Sara was five and out in the world and I was stuck at home. I hated being excluded.

When I quietly opened the door my sister spun round,
“This is a private conversation.” The tone was sharp. And they looked complicit.

I crept away but hovered in the corridor, intrigued by the whispers.

May Ashmore had come to tea. At the table Sara’s new friend had announced that she was beautiful. I believed her and studied her carefully. Eventually after the whispering epsiode her mother arrived in a car to collect her. Only one family in our road had a car.

Finally alone with my sister, I badgered her to reveal the “Private Conversation.”
“You are too young.”
“No I’m not.”
“If you knew this fact it would spoil things.”
“What things?”
“Well, Christmas.”

How could anything spoil Christmas? Even a fact. I continued to needle. The more I was rebuffed, the more I was determined to know. I pestered and cajoled – just couldn’t rest. Finally exasperated she turned to me.

“If I did tell you, you’d have to be very grown up about it and not respond like a three year old.”
I assured her that I wouldn’t.
“You are going to hate hearing this. ”
“I won’t. Pleeeease tell me.” I’d love it if she shared the secret.

“You are not allowed to cry or ever tell Mummy.”
Now I wasn’t so certain. But I needed to know.
“I won’t tell Mummy.”

Looking back I feel for my sister. Children don’t want to lie to each other about important things and she must have been upset herself. She looked me straight in the eye and swallowed.

“Father Christmas doesn’t exist.”

No news flash, however terrible, has ever had quite the same impact.


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13 Comments

  1. Oh my … this is exactly what my older bro did to me. I was devastated, like you. The hardest part was pretending that I still believed in Christmas (made worse by my bro showing me our parent’s stash of Christmas presents for us. Sure enough, they appeared under the tree and signed by M. Claus.)

  2. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Pat,

    Faced with a diminutive Spanish Inquisition she didn’t have much of a chance!

  3. awwwww I hope you kept it secret and didn’t let on to your parents. She really shouldn’t have told you.

  4. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Sarah

    That’s such a sweet story – not wanting your Mom to know that you knew!

    Hi nà,

    That would have made me giggle too.

    Hi Clare,

    My brother was 4 years older too. But he kept quiet about Father Christmas and the tooth fairy. I kept the tooth fairy myth alive as long as possible as I was an avaricious child and liked finding sixpence under my pillow.

    We have had Christmas stockings all my life and my mother has found one at the foot of her bed for years. The best part of Christmas.

    Hi Mildred,

    There’s a Father Christmas in all of us just waiting to burst out!

    Hi Louisa,

    No wonder FC is plump with all those mince pies and a glass of sherry in each house. I love the idea of the beard on the side of the sherry glass and the half eaten carrot!

    Hi Amanda,

    Yes 3 was too young. But I still enjoyed my Christmas stocking.

    With all that sherry I am amazed that FC can handle complex manoeuvres with the sleigh but I suppose that’s all part of the magic!

  5. Three is such a bad age to find out. You’d only had one year of understanding Father Christmas. Five is still too young. We sprinkle fairy dust (glitter) outside to attract the reindeer and leave sherry (finest Oloroso), a carrot and a mince pie. FC is a greedy B who quite often eats more than the one pie we’ve left out and more often than not puts a huge dent in the bottle of sherry!

  6. When i was little my brother and I used to leave out a glass of sherry (always harvey’s bristol cream) for some reason mum insisted that it was father christmas’s favourite. We also used to leave out a mince pie and carrot for the reindeer. In the morning the mince pie had a bite out of it, the carrot had gone and sherry had been drunk and always had a bit of white beard attached to the glass. I’ve never known anyone else who’s beard falls out drinking sherry!

  7. NO Father Christmas?? Is there something I should know?

    Mildred (aged 47 and a half)

  8. When my brother was small, he was indignant that Father Christmas didn’t exist and challenged our parents to admit to it. They countered this with pure logic: if Father Christmas doesn’t exist, then he cannot bring any presents. Faced with such dire consequences, he suddenly decided that perhaps he’d abandon his questions.

    Incidentally, he’s 4 years older than me and derived great pleasure from telling me that neither Father Christmas nor the tooth fairy were “real”. Cruel!

    We still get Christmas stockings every year, though, it’s a great way to make little surprise presents for people.

  9. oh you poor little sweety!!! you found out when you were so little! 🙂 what a lovely story though! i don’t remember when i found out either. though i remember insisting to my grandpa well into my twenties that father christmas did exist, just to make him giggle!
    have a good day

  10. I don’t remember how I figured it out, but I do remember telling my Grandma what I knew; I also told her I was scared my Mom would find out, I didn’t want to spoil the fun my Mom had filling my stocking. Grandma told me not to worry, she would keep my secret.

    Thanks for sharing a story that triggered a sweet memory of my Grandma.

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