I wish I could be Santa Claus

The news was devastating. I was not asked to be Santa Claus for my daughter's class party.

I was shocked. My daughter is 21 and shouldn't be having Santa at her university parties.

No, she isn't really. She believes in Santa - as do I, of course - and was excited at the prospect of sitting on the knee of the big guy with a beard.

She does get the opportunity to sit on the big, bearded guy's knee when she visits her uncle, but it's not the same when he tells rude jokes and discusses the need for Arsenal to sign a second striker.

But the "real" Santa was on his way to visit her classmates and she was delighted. I was disgusted. Santa was going to be represented by one of the other class parents.

Now, for the benefit of younger readers, this is how it works. There is a real Santa who, as you read this, is working with his elves and paying them market rates (Santa does not run any sweatshops).

He is happy and jolly and content - as you would be if you were granted 364 days of leave every year.

But he can't be everywhere. So he employs assistants to check all the boys' and girls' gift lists around the world and some of these assistants occasionally look and smell like your parents, especially if they've rushed to their duties after an office Christmas party.

There's nothing like Santa burping Tiger beer to give the game away that he might be your Dad.

So one of the classroom fathers took on the role of Santa's assistant for the afternoon by dressing up as the red and white man.

But I quickly discovered he wasn't first choice. He wasn't even second choice. He was considered to be the last resort before turning to me.

Apparently, there was talk of asking the mothers to play Santa before asking me.

Now I've got no issue with women playing Santa.

I have no qualms with sitting on a woman's knee and being told I've been a naughty boy.

There are men who pay a lot of money for that sort of thing.

But a female Santa Claus might have given the game away that she wasn't quite the real deal.

Feeling a trifle miffed, I sought out the Santa organiser for my daughter's classroom Christmas party and asked why I'd been overlooked.

"You're too skinny," she replied, rather hurtfully I thought.

"What about the dad who wore the suit last year," I wondered. "He wasn't much bigger than me."

"He was more, well... jolly."

So you've got to be jolly to play Santa Claus?

When I was a kid, Santa essentially sat me on his knee and said: "Have you been naughty this year?... Oh, you've been good... Right, well, you see, the thing is, I'm not sure if you've been good enough for me to give you the gift of playing with Diego Maradona at the next World Cup."

And then he'd wink at my mum. I was never sure if she'd asked him beforehand to let me down gently or if the randy old sod had the hots for my mother.

But I could do that. I could wink at women. I could let children down gently. I'm a father. It's my full-time profession.

I'm forever saying: "No, you can't walk on the moon today. You're not wearing the right shoes. We'll walk on the moon tomorrow. Have a Kit-Kat instead."

But I wasn't considered a viable candidate. Feeling sorry for myself, I sought solace within the comforting security of my own home. I didn't find any.

"No, I see why they didn't ask you," my wife concurred cheerily. "Santa's not really you."

"Well, of course he's not really me. If Santa was really me, you'd probably have noticed by now. I don't spend my days sitting on cheap-looking sets, surrounding myself with dwarves and heavily made-up young women. I don't make porn movies."

"That's why they didn't ask you."

"Because I don't make porn movies?"

"Because you're too sarcastic."

So I stood at the back of the class sulking whilst a heftier, sarcasm-free father got to play Santa Claus for my daughter and the other kids.

He was popular, kind and playful. He was a consummate professional. He was the perfect Santa. Suitably humbled, I learned a valuable lesson.

If I want to play Santa next year, I might have to kill the other dad.

Merry Christmas!

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