When I met Christmas 'thatha'

A bygone season

When I met Christmas 'thatha'

This photograph of me with Santa Claus was taken on December 21, 1957, when I was three years old. The meeting took place in London, about 70 km from the village of Cranfield, in Bedfordshire, where my IAF father was pursuing an aeronautical course.

I have pleasurable memories of occasional visits to England’s Capital, but can barely recall my encounter with Santa. After all, as the date behind the snapshot
attests, it happened 58 years ago! My 88-year-old mother remembers that distant day.
At the peak of the Christmas season, my parents were at a London departmental store where they and other shoppers were encouraged to buy toys for their children.

Those were then wrapped, labelled and handed to Santa Claus. That familiar figure, hired by the management to boost sales, played his customary role of calling
out names and distributing presents.

As the picture shows, Santa Claus felt obliged to greet each young recipient. Also evident is my fear of the red-clad man with the snowy beard. Even if I had wished to chat, we could not have exchanged pleasantries.

When my hesitant handshake was captured on camera, I spoke very little English. In fact, I did not know the legendary gift-giver as Santa Claus or Father Christmas. To me he was ‘Christmas Thatha’!

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