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Santa, please don't come!

Published Date: 21 Dec 2023

It’s nearly Christmas, and the children are getting excited about the treats, presents, time with cousins and time away from school. It’s time for Christmas shows and school fairs, which come with the added excitement that you might bump into Santa and get a gift!

Unless, like us, your child is really scared of Father Christmas. The entrance to any fair, shopping centre, or show begins with one of us doing a quick look around. Where’s the Santa? For a fat bloke dressed in red, he can be good at sneaking up on you.

At any other time of year, telling children that an old man they don’t know creeps into their house late at night to eat mince pies and drink brandy would probably be considered inappropriate. At Christmas, we embrace the thought of him breaking and entering. We reassure our little ones, ‘Don’t worry, even if you don’t have a chimney, he will find a way in,’ and ‘He knows when you’re asleep’.

Olive, our six-year-old, probably has the right idea to be wary of him. It adds stress to Christmas days out for us though. She doesn’t like anyone in a costume really, but Santa induces tears at the mention he might be there. We try and manage this by warning her in advance and preparing her. We tell her it’s OK if she sees him, but just tell us and we will move her away.

You’d be surprised when and where he turns up unexpectedly. And often, people who dress as Santa are very kind and good with children, so they see it as their personal mission to cheer her up and convince her Santa is a nice person.

If this is you, then please don’t bother. If a child doesn’t want to see Santa, then a 6ft Santa approaching her, even with good intentions, can be traumatising. Stay in your hut, tent or tinsel draped gazebo (depending on how classy your grotto set up is).

Olive is happy with a wave across the room and to know that Santa will post her toys via Royal Mail so he doesn’t need to come in our house. She won’t miss out on the presents given out at school fairs, because her wonderful big sister, Connie, will meet Santa and explain that Olive is too scared to come and meet him. Connie will usually then share what she gets, and Olive will be happy that her siblings got to meet him and have fun.

It’s not ideal. We aren’t sure why she’s so scared of Santa, but she has disliked him for as long as we can remember. Her reactions have lessened over time, and we aren’t embarrassed, we just feel bad for her when people don’t listen and think ‘she will be fine once she sees me’. No, she won’t. And we will have 15 minutes of very sad child to deal with after.

So please, Santa, don’t come to our house or visit us. We’ve been very good, but we’d much rather you left our presents in a safe place or with a neighbour.


Jennie and her husband, Rhys, both work with children with additional needs and live in Manchester with their children Connie (7), Olive (6) and Acer (1).

Olive has quadriplegic cerebral palsy and is profoundly deaf with bilateral cochlear implants. Olive is verbal but also uses a mixture of sign and her voice output device to communicate. (Connie and Acer use a loud voice.) They all use speech and British Sign Language (BSL) at home.