Is Father Christmas real?

Most of us get nostalgic on Christmas Eve and remember past Christmases stretching back over the decades to childhood. Those of us with grown up children and grandchildren reminisce about the days of simple toys and the thrill of waking early on Christmas morning to open a non-digital new gadget such as Etch-a-Sketch or Spirograph (both big Christmas favourites in my case and give some indication of my interests today)!

We all have favourite Christmas presents from the past and a particular Christmas sticks out in my mind as being exceptional even as a child. The door to the ‘front room’ was tied with rope to the bannister on the stairs so my sister and I couldn’t take a peek before the big day. Even then we were so excited and knew something special must be inside that room!

All was revealed on Christmas morning. My Uncle was a coach builder and good with carpentry and had made us both a proper baby cot from wood scaled down to fit a new doll each. There was proper bedding (made by my Mum) and a whole set of clothes, nightdress, dresses, etc to fit the dolls all on tiny hangers around the cot edge (Mum was an haute couture dressmaker by trade). That was without doubt the BEST Christmas present we ever had and now I look back with warm appreciation of the time and love put into those items.

Meeting Santa on the Bodmin Railway trip in 2013

Now I have grandchildren and what did they want for Christmas from us this year? Safety Roller Skates for the 4 year old (still fun and we had them back in the day), Roller Blades for the eldest girl (still a bit of nostalgia there and not an electronic gadget) but our grandson who is 11 and a bit of a techie and a wizz at Lego, Maths and Origami (last year he had a microscope and the year before a junior telescope) wanted a Hoverboard! Apparently the hottest thing and expensive, so the whole family put in together for that one!

However, I digress, my question was ‘Is Father Christmas Real?’ and today I came across the above photo taken 5 years ago and just love the look on their faces! They truly believed this was Santa and when his Elf asked them ‘Have you been good all year?’ they were stunned into complete silence, probably remembering times when they weren’t and would that mean they didn’t get any presents? That’s the cynical response from a grandmother of course but I can also see in their faces that they do believe Father Christmas is real and this was a momentous occasion to actually meet him!

So yes, I have to say that Father Christmas is real. How do I know? Well when I was between 5 and 8 years of age we lived in a flat in Fulham and had a Christmas party at home with friends and neighbours on Christmas Eve. Late in the evening at about 10 pm I heard jingle bells and looked out of the window, shouting: “I’ve just seen Father Christmas on his sleigh travelling across the sky!” To this day, decades later, I still believe that is what I saw (tonight I might blame it on the Prosecco!)

I’d love to know was your favourite childhood Christmas present and whether you think Father Christmas is real too?


  • Thanks for the article, Helen, which took me back. Every year, I was slightly disappointed when Santa brought me things like typewriters (if only I’d known how useful it would be), dolls and a knitting set when all I wanted was books, a chemistry set and a train set. Never did get the last two but I remain addicted to books. I think my Mum/Dad used to go behind my back and cancel my list to Santa!!

    • You’ve just reminded me Dawn that one year I got a Petite Typewriter for Christmas and I actually left school after O Levels and took a 2year Bi Lingual Secretarial course! I did love that typewriter it was fun to thump away on! Also had a Singer Sewing Machine one year and it did work! I think my Mum was trying to inspire me with that to become as good a seamstress as she was! Always loved getting books and still think they are great presents instead of reading on a kindle! I’d be interested to know if when you became a mother yourself your presents for your own children were more inspired, I suspect they were!

  • Sajla says:

    Hey Helen, aah…nostalgia prevails in your words. So many years ago we (I say we because my siblings and I ) all went to a catholic boarding school in India and were well enlightened about the Christmas traditions. In the winter holidays when we were home it would be Christmas time and we soooo excitedly and enthusiastically used to hang up our long socks/stockings at the end of our beds for Santa 🎅 Claus only to find them empty on Christmas morning 🙄 😞 and 😏😏 we stopped believing. Mum and dad were none the wiser 🤨 and never realised.!!!
    I must ask my grown up children if they believed!! 😀
    Thankyou for the sweet article 🙂

    • Helen Shingler says:

      Awww Sajla, thanks for your comment. That’s so sad about your childhood because you obviously did believe in Father Christmas but (not unnaturally) because of your own traditions and your parents’ beliefs you obviously got them squashed! I was worried because my daughter’s family now live in Egypt, my grandchildren wouldn’t have a Xmas tree or miss out on the Christmas experiences they have had in the UK. They have Christmas lunch booked at an English run restaurant so at least they will get something! Yes, ask your two daughters if they believed and did Father Christmas come to visit them?

      • Sajla says:

        I shall ask, because I did my best to re-ignite the belief and the excitement and we did share it. I remember the younger daughter just so amazed at finding the Sylvanian Family doll house under our Christmas 🎄 Tree…. that’s quite a treasured memory 🥰🥰🥰🥰

        • Helen Shingler says:

          I remember those Sylvanian Families! I can imagine how excited your daughter must have been to find it under the Xmas Tree. The think I like about those presents too, is that children had to use their imagination to play with them and create their own worlds not have everything just there like a video game!

  • Kevin says:

    A beautiful nostalgic read. I too had one of those Christmases. I was about 9 and can remember walking with Dad in the freezing cold, wearing my favourite Christmas present ever.

    It was a fake leather jacket (my brother had a real one), purchase from Woolworth. I can remember it and its red plaid lining to this day. My brother even put some studs on it to make it look like his.

    As to whether Father Christmas is real or not. I think is all down to belief. He’s real for children because they want it to be real,

    Sometimes things can’t be explained or proved, even though they are 100% true. Love for example. How do you prove you love someone? There’s no exam, no qualification. You just do.

    Keep up the good work Helen, I always enjoy your posts.

    • Helen Shingler says:

      Thanks for posting a comment Kevin, it was really lovely to read about your memorable Christmas and the special present! It reaffirms what I think, that these memories are so precious and unique to the individual but we all share that ‘feeling’. I agree that children really want to believe in Father Christmas because he represents something magical and we all need a little magic in our lives except that as we grow older we forget until a post like this maybe transports us back in time…………

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