In a rare moment of forward planning, we’d had this booked in since September: a trip to Santa’s grotto at Harrods. So finally the day had arrived, Monday 19th December (my best friend Jenny’s little boy’s second birthday – which is not relevant for this post, but I’d just like to acknowledge the date and wish Archie a belated “Happy Birthday” … Richmond Daddy had booked the day off work and we bundled Richmond Baby into her snowsuit, strapped her into her Bugaboo, and off we went on the tube, Knightsbridge bound. Full of excitement, full of festive cheer, and full of anticipation as to whether or not she’d totally freak out at the sight of Father Christmas like she had at a recent encounter at our local church fair: exhibit A…
So yes, undeterred by the aforementioned incident, we headed to Harrods with a spring in our step, hope in our hearts, and our fingers crossed behind our backs for good measure. On arrival we joined the queue at our allotted 10.30am time slot and then began to weave our way through the grotto, getting ever closer to the big man himself. Santa that is, not God. Just to be clear.
Well, let me just say this for starters, the grotto – big success! It was filled with all the things Richmond Baby LOVES:
- twinkly lights? check!
- jolly, bouncy music? check!
- smiley faced gingerbread men on a poster loop thingamy?!? check-a-dee-check!!
She was LOVING it. LOVING IT!! Her eyes were wide with fascination, she was beaming from ear to ear, her little hands were rigid and waving “jazz hands” stylee with excitement. She was literally having the best time of her life and it was magical.
Finally we were at the front of the queue and it was our turn to go in and meet Santa. Richmond Daddy knocked at his door and we heard a friendly “come in”… and then, all hell broke loose… In we went and no sooner had Richmond Baby clocked Father C than the shrieks and the tears and the trembling began. Not good. Poor little bubba, it seemed she’d failed to the get memo that old-Santy was a friend and not a foe, and I don’t know whether it was the big white beard, the flowing white locks, the head-to-toe festive red outfit, or a combo of all the above, but basically, Santa? – she no likey. Uh-uh. Nope, not one little bit.
In fairness, Santa did a very good job of trying to calm the situation down. He offered her a tasty looking chocolate gold coin (which mummy took care of…) and lovely little hardback storybook about gingerbread men and a jumbo badge as a momento of her 2011 trip to the grotto, but to no avail. Nope, she wasn’t going to be bribed into being buddies with him just because he came at her with the gifts and the rosy red cheeks. No way no how. Poor baby, let’s just say that she didn’t entirely enjoy that part of the overall visiting Santa’s grotto experience. So maybe next time we’ll just do the grotto bit and skip the Santa bit. Food for thought.
Anyway, of course once you’re there, you have to have “the photo” and so Santa suggested he sit as far away from her as possible in a bid to (a) allow her to calm down and (b) attempt to capture a pic of her not crying and him just about being in shot. And this was the result:
Yes, Santa is only just in the shot.
Yes, it does look a bit like we’re all at a bus stop!
And yes, Richmond Baby does look like she’s trying to make a break for it.
Oh, and yes, I regret I didn’t take the time to (a) wash/blow-dry my hair and (b) put on some make up, but hey ho (or should I say ho ho?!), whatcha gonna do? – when you have an appointment with Santa, you can’t be late.
BUT… we have the photo and it’s not toooooo bad and it’s a comedy momento of Richmond Baby’s first proper Santa encounter (the church fair Santa doesn’t really count as it was just a friend of ours in a borrowed suit, not exactly the real deal, although pretty effective I’ll give him that).
After the photo, Santa remarked that “before this turns into a scarring experience I think we should say goodbye” and at that we waved our farewells before emerging back out into the grotto (aka the safe zone for Richmond Baby). She was still a bit nervous and on edge as we walked our way out of the grotto, but by the time we’d reached Mother Christmas she had calmed sufficiently for some more photos but not really for smiles:
After the grotto we then paid a visit to the Harrods’ toy kingdom, oooooh, it was lovely! We decided that we’d buy Richmond Baby a special Steiff teddy bear as a Christmas present from us for baby’s first Christmas and so we spent some time picking out different bears, showing them to her and then watching her squeal with glee and grab and cuddle each of them. It was too cute. Eventually we settled on a Steiff Cosy Brown Charly bear who is made from soft brown plush with tan velvety paws and face.
Richmond Baby was very excited to be taking Charly home, but for now he’s being kept safe and sound out of sight until Christmas Day. So excited – only 2 more sleeps to go!!
What a lovely day we had and despite the tears and the trembling (ahem), I’m sure we’ll be back again next year. Hopefully Richmond Baby can learn to love Santa… in time.