Santa Memories

Catching the Christmas train!

Last weekend, we saw Santa on the Christmas train on the Mornington Railway.

The Mornington Railway is run by volunteers and runs a number of Santa trains in December so it seemed like a fun activity.

It was the first time the kids had been in a train with compartments (like they do in Harry Potter!), so they loved that and were very excited at the idea of Santa coming into our compartment and speaking with just us.

Unfortunately, he didn’t actually spend much time in the compartment with us – just gave the kids a candy cane each – but at least he was there and spoke to them.
Santa on Mornington Rail train

We caught the train from Moorooduc to Mornington and back. As part of the Christmas experience, a Christmas tree was at the station with boxes of baubles that children were welcome to hang on the tree. It was blank when we first saw it but was soon covered with baubles!

child decorated Christmas tree on the train station

The kids loved watching the train from the footbridge (27.1m long, 6.5m high, originally built in 1900 and located in North Fitzroy), looking at the old station items and posting letters to Santa. The kids were interested in seeing ‘history trains’ and noted the difference (other than size!) between this train and the Lego bullet train the Lego City advent calendars produced a few days earlier.

A jumping castle beside the station was also a big hit – given we had it to ourselves, it was pretty special!

We followed the trip up with a picnic in a nearby train-themed playground, so had a lovely day.

Have you caught the Mornington train before?

Thanking Santa – a sweet reminder

When Santa holidays in Australia, we sometimes get his mail so he can stay in touch with children around the world.

Recently, we received, on Santa’s behalf, a lovely card from a little girl. Preslee wanted to thank Santa for his letter last Christmas, as well for giving her Sparkie and hoping she makes it onto the nice list again in 2018.

Cards like this remind us why it is so special and how very privileged we are to be assisting Santa with his letters each year.

a child's thank you card to Santa for her letter

The beautiful card from Preslee, with the attached note from her Mum.

And maybe they also remind others to thank Santa and show him how much he is appreciated 🙂

A Christmas party

We started December by going to a wonderful Christmas party, thus delaying our start of the 2017 advent calendars!, so here are some of the photos from the night…

Santa beside a 'Santa stop here' sign

Obediently, Santa stopped by…

There were lots of Christmas treats to eat…

CHristmas doughnuts, Christmas tree watermelon and muffins beside a Christmas candle

Some gorgeous decorations, including a bunch of mistletoe

Array of CHirstmas decorations, including mistletoe and a Christmas tree

Outside were some pretty lights

Christmas light display photos

And the star of the night, of course, was Santa!

photos of Santa at a party

Santa gave lovely cuddles to Charlotte, the little elf.

Santa for all

Santa loves all children (and adults!). No exceptions, he’s just a loving person.

So it is always special when others help Santa reach other kids than those who manage in mainstream situations.

girl sitting on Santa's lap

Sitting on Santa’s lap is a delight for many children and all should have the opportunity.

Quiet Santa times

There is a shopping mall in Novia Scotia, Canada, where autistic children can have private chats with Santa in a quiet room that has fewer decorations.

I think that is a wonderful idea to allow those children to experience sitting on Santa’s lap (or beside him), knowing that the noise, movement and crowds in a normal Santa situation could easily overwhelm children on the autism spectrum.

I have heard of other places in the past doing this, too.

The Sensitive Santa Project, run in Nillumbik Council in Victoria is a similar program being run this year. And Sensory Santa 2016 is encouraging shopping centre to hold more quiet Santa visit options – it lists centres across Queensland, NSW and WA that will offer Santa visits this coming Sunday (20 November).

Santa signing to deaf children

Last year, I was just as moved by the story of Santa using sign language to chat with Tilly in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK and to communicate with a three-year-old girl, Mali, in Cleveland, USA.

That Cleveland Centre will have Santa signing again this year, as will a school in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA.

Back in Australia, some 2016 Christmas and Santa events including Auslan are:

Other inclusive Santa experiences?

Have you ever experienced an inclusive Santa experience somewhere? Did you see it make a difference to children who may otherwise have missed out on something that most other kids take for granted?

Santa writing with a quill

Writing letters is one way Santa shows his love for children.

Do you know of any others coming up in Australia this year as I’d love them to be shared and become more common.

Important notes

Santa of course loves all children and will communicate with them as best he can (writing letters to children is obviously a key way he communicates!). But because he is such a busy many, he has some other Santa helpers who take his place in some shopping centres and the like so more children can experience being with a Santa. And that’s why not all Santas you see can use Auslan, other sign languages or communicate in other ways and languages.

I am sure there are many more inclusive Santa events in Australia (and outside of Victoria!), but the ones above were the only ones I easily found via Google. If you know of others, please share them in the comments.

Creating Santa in wood

I just came across a news article that is wonderful so I am sharing it here 🙂

Carving Santas

Ken Miller lives in the USA and literally carves Santas for a hobby and profit!

art of carving in wood with a carver working on the background

Carving wood takes patience, perseverance and practice.

He carves Santa’s face and body into wooden objects such as rolling pins, bowls and shoes (clogs), and then paints them. Some are given as gifts and others he sells at craft markets – what a pity none of those markets are in Australia as I’d love to see his work!

But what I think is really special is that he sometimes carves Santa into old wooden objects that have sentimental value to people. For example, taking the rolling pin of someone’s great grandmother and turning it into a Santa statue that can be placed on a mantelpiece with price each year – rather than keeping the treasured rolling pin locked away in a cupboard.

Do you have any old objects that could perhaps be given new life by being turned into a Santa? Are you game to try the transition yourself?

 

Kinders writing to Santa

After enjoying it so much last year with my son, I offered to help my daughter’s kinder with Santa letter writing this year. The children are four or five and heading towards starting school next year.

An array of letters to Santa, written by kinder children

An array of letters to Santa, written by kinder children

Helping the children write

Working with two or three children at a time, I sat with the kinders to help them. Each child chose a texta (choice of colour is important!) and then copied Santa’s name from where I had written it.

Many of the children went on to write ‘can I please have’, while I wrote it for a few of them. Then they told me what they wanted to ask Santa for and I wrote it down – either for them to copy or directly onto their letter.

Sharing the letters

Image collage of children's hands writting a letter to Santa

Children writing their letters to Santa

Once the entire group had written a letter (I went in during two different sessions), they were photocopied.

The children folded the original letters, placed them in an envelope and together they walked to a letterbox and posted their letters. By this time, they had learned how letters are formatted, practised their writing and seen how to mail a letter – it’s a great learning activity as well as being fun.

The kinder teacher placed the copies into the children’s portfolios which were given to parents as a Christmas gift after their concert.

Requests to Santa

While most of the children quickly rattled off a favourite gift idea or two, a few had trouble which surprised me. I hadn’t expected to have to help any child suggest what they wanted!

Not surprisingly, there were a number of requests for Lego, things from Frozen, cars and games. One girl very sweetly added ‘a gift for my little sister’ to her list.

Santa’s reply

In my usual role as Santa’s Letter Elf, I wrote a reply to the kinders, too.

It was fun to include each child in the letter somehow so they could feel it was truly for them when the teacher read it out to the group.

Santa receives a gift

Little girl  offering a gift to Santa

Offering a special picture to Santa

Last night, we attended a Christmas picnic at my daughter’s kinder. It was a lovely night and we had a special visitor towards the end of the evening.

As my daughter had known that Santa was visiting the picnic, she created a gift for him in the afternoon. The gift being a drawing on a piece of cardboard.

Seeing Santa

When Santa arrived, not surprisingly, lots of children ran over to him.

The band was playing ‘Santa is coming to town’ and the children were happily looking at their Christmas  hero.

Each child was given an icy pole by Santa, and Santa moved around to greet other children and chat to some adults.

My daughter had her icy pole in hand then grabbed her gift and followed Santa, trying to get his attention. Reaching out her gift, she was able to give it to him.

Santa’s response

Santa was surprised to be given a gift, thanked her warmly and leant down to kiss her cheek.

For the rest of Santa’s visit, her cardboard gift was in his hand. He also carried it up the street when he left, as witnessed by a friend 🙂

Snata holding bells and a cardboard gift

Santa waving bells and holding a child’s gift

My very excited daughter has since described Santa’s beard as being like ‘sheep’s fluff’ – soft and cuddly.

Gifts for Santa

My children often talk about giving something to Santa, and have left gifts for him on a number of Christmas Eves. However, it is the first time a gift has been physically handed to Santa.

It was a lovely memory for us and a special way for her to finish kinder – thanks Santa 🙂

Have you or your children ever given a gift to Santa?

Kinder children writing to Santa

I helped at my son’s kinder this morning and was given the very appropriate job of helping the children write their letters to Santa 🙂

Each child wrote “To Santa Love from {name}” from pre-written cards to help them know the letters to use.

In between the to and from bits, we also wrote a request for a gift. Some of the children did this themselves (once I wrote out the words on scrap paper for them) while others needed my help writing those bits (they are only 4 or 5 years old!)

letters to Santa written by 5 year olds

Kinder children writing letters to Santa with care and pride – lovely to watch.

The children worked hard on their letters and it was a delight to watch them, and participate with them. One child was so pleased with his letter he kept coming back to get it, fly it around the room and show it to everyone he could get to stand still and look!

Letters are being sent to Santa – and copies kept as part of the collection of work being given to parents at the end of the year. I for one am pleased to know we will have a permanent record of what my son wrote!

Have you ever received (or at least seen) letters your children have written to Santa at kinder or school?

If your child is yet to write to Santa, don’t forget we have a template to help them get started and write a nice letter to Santa.

Working as Santa’s Elfs

It had been a rough year money wise. Christmas Eve was here and there wasn’t going to be anything under the tree. Luckily the kids were all small and probably wouldn’t even realize that Christmas had come without a visit from Santa.

I decided to at least bake some cookies for the holiday. Mainly to lift my own spirits.

I was just taking out the last pan when my brother-in-law showed up. He helped pack up the 3 children and fresh baked cookies so we could spend the night and Christmas day with the rest of the family.

After getting all the kids asleep for the night, he proceeded to open his closet which was piled to the ceiling with boxes. He started to pull stuff out handing it to us. It was toys! He worked for a donation center. All the toys had been donated but rejected because they weren’t in very good shape.

tools for reconstructions (sewdriver, thread, pliers & glue)Until the wee hours of the morning we fixed and rebuilt cars, dolls, stuffed bears and tricycles.

When we were finished there was more toys than all our kids needed. My husband and his brother loaded the extras in the car and using a list my brother had gotten ahold of, took off and left presents at doors of other struggling families with small children.

The next morning watching the kids tear open the gifts made me happy but the fact of what we had accomplished made me feel the happiest. Really felt like one of Santa’s elfs.

Pulling together to give a special Christmas wish

I just read a newspaper story about Santa and wanted to share it. I also found the YouTube video of it which brought tears to my eyes.

In Lebanon, a young girl, Carmen, had a wish of getting an iPad for Christmas. the Tamanna Lebanon organization (a group like Make-a-Wish who help critically ill children get a special wish granted) took it a step further and had Santa present the iPad to her during her chemotherapy even though it was September.

Santa loves surprises and Christmas decorations!With help from various groups, Carmen (and the unsuspecting shoppers!) was surprised with a street full of Christmas decorations, confetti and music. A helicopter delivered Santa to Carmen with her gift and a banner wished her Merry Christmas.

It is lovely Carmen was given such a treat during horrific treatments.

I also love the fact how many people came together, cooperated and didn’t charge a cent to bring the magic of Christmas alive of r a stranger – and all the other people who surrounded her.

Can you think of a way to bring a little more Christmas magic into your community this year?

Are Santa decorations prominent in your home?

Santa Christmas tree decorations

Miscellaneous Santas amongst tree decorations

When you decorate your house and Christmas tree each year, does Santa feature very much?

On the tree, the front door or throughout the house, Santa can be part of your decorations. So do you choose to have him in large doses or just go for traditional Christmas images?

 

Your Magical Santa Moment

Santa peering around a Christmas treeWhat is your favourite Santa memory? That time when the magic of Santa fully hit you and left you feeling on top of the world.

Maybe it was a special gift he left you, or the signs he left behind as he rushed to the next house of sleeping children.

Maybe it was one of Santa’s helpers you saw at a party or shop that did something special, or maybe it was a family tradition in preparation for Santa’s arrival.

Now is your chance to share that precious memory and bring a smile to our faces, too 🙂

Share your Christmas story
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