My wife, Karen, finds the notion of taking children to Santa’s Grotto as being something rather unusual, since it is not something that people really do in Germany. She says that it provides British people with another excuse to do some queueing, a stereotype of which I think most of we British are rightly proud.
Whether or not she is right, one thing is for sure: if you want to take your children to a grotto then you can expect to queue, and queue, and queue; with lots of other parents getting slowly more exasperated. I certainly find myself standing there thinking: “just how long does it take for a child to see him” as the snake of people progresses all to slowly, and we have certainly spent a significant part of December standing in such queues.
To what end? Meeting someone dressed in a red suit with a beard, telling our boys they had better be good, asking them what they want and usually handing out low quality toys. On the face of it it is not really worth the wait.
Except it is. Because no matter how grotty the grotto, the boys come out with a sense of wonder. On more than one occasion this time Jake has become so overawed that he as been completely tongue tied and had been unable to recall anything from his well-constructed and comprehensive Christmas list. Sam usually stands there shouting ‘papa istmas’. Both love the experience, and I have loved taking them; and let’s face it once we are in there I do not care how long it takes.
It surely is not my imagination that there has been something of a proliferation of grottos over the last few years. They are everywhere: in stores, on trains, in schools (Santa was at Jake’s school twice), in museums and, yes, even in churches. I seems an obligatory part of any Christmas scene, and we have had to steer the boys past one on more than one occasion this year. After all if we go to too many they might begin to suspect that Father Christmas is spreading himself a bit thin, and that would not do at all.