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Meeting Missmuss

December 6, 2013

A card arrived for Granby the other day and Hope sat and watched it being opened … before her Grandmother could look inside the card to see who it was from Hope grabbed it and gleefully pointed at the red cloaked figure soaring high in his sleigh above the houses … “Missmuss, MISSMUSS Mummi Missmuss”.

I was surprised, she must have remembered from last year … we have no Christmas things out at home yet, she never watches the TV (apart from Strictly Come Dancing with the Stars) and we generally only shop in the farm shop or local Budgens neither of which have entered the Festive spirit yet. So, somehow, somewhen, probably in the still of the night, the memory has been lodged in her head, either that or she’s heard all about him at her child minder’s house or there are more subliminal Santas about than I have noticed!

Anyway, it’s there, the Missmuss excitement… every envelope that arrives is now checked for the jolly fellow in the red cloak and “aindeer” have taken over from “orseys” as her animal of choice. We were staying with our in laws at the weekend and I saw an advertisement for the Watercress Line … a steam railway near Winchester. They were offering a Santa Special on the steam train. I normally loathe commercialism but the steam sealed it for me and before I could stop myself I was on the phone booking 2 adult places and one baby place for a train ride 2 hours later, we hadn’t eaten breakfast, hadn’t showered, my knee was the size of a balloon and it was half an hour away. Nothing like spontaneity to get you dressed and fed in a hurry!!

We boarded the clanky old train at a ‘proper’ railway station, old fashioned station master, window boxes, wrought iron benches and a pleasing signal box. Inside there was an expectant hubub going on, sheepish and sentimental parents and over excited children. Even Hopey picked up on the atmosphere and stood on the table waving “BYE” to her Auntie and Uncle who were waving us off on the platform. A cheerful grown up elf came by with boxes of apple juice for the small folk, another one bought a tray of wine for the grow’d ups and then napkins and mince pies and we were off … the whistle blew (a proper train whistle) and pish ti cuop pish ti coup (in manner of Ivor the Engine) the train headed out. Hope was delighted and gazed around at everyone and got very excited when she spotted cows out of the window. Andrew the cheerful warm up act came by and asked her name and told everyone that if they hadn’t been good there would be no presents and so on … I heard a bit of a kerfuffle behind me and turned to see the familiar red suited white bearded fellow handing out gifts in the carriage behind us. “He’s coming Hope, Father Christmas is on his way” … she was sitting between her father and I and was jumping up and down with excitement along with the 3 children in the seats beside us.

“HO HO HO”, came the very deep voiced chortles from directly behind me, Hope sank back in my arms and looked terrified, “Oh no” I thought, “she’s going to sob”, but no, she just stayed in the crook of my arm and peered round the corner and up past a bushy white beard into the twinkly eyes … every cliche in the book … but it was lovely and we were all swept up in the moment. He asked her age and her name and one of the elves produced a little felt bag … Hope reached inside and found a small cardboard box with a string of wooden toys. “Ducks”, that was it, she was beside herself with happiness, “Missmuss, hello Hopey, ducks, happy”, she looked up from time to time as the elves scuttled back and forth with their different coloured goody bags and she wolfed down a tangerine I had stashed in my pocket, but mostly she just played with the ducks and muttered about the fact that “Missmuss” said, “Hello Hopey”.

He came back again and posed for photographs … he said hello to her again and she beamed, we had a photograph taken and then, he vanished … and we arrived back in Alresford.

The steam cleared and we climbed out from the train … there was no sign of Santa and there were no elves, it was just as if it had all been a dream, apart from the mince pie crumbs and the box full of ducks.

We stood a while and enjoyed the spectacle, we looked at the Christmas tree as it emerged from the steam and then we made our way, Hope holding tight to her father’s hand while I hobbled painfully with my horribly swollen knee up and over the bridge.

Hope’s Aunt and Uncle met us with their small dog, Hope forgot all about her close encounter for a little while until we were all sitting outside a cafe enjoying a hot chocolate and I heard her telling Maizie the dog something, I bent down to eavesdrop, “Missmuss say Hello Hope, Missmuss Hopey ducks, reeellly”.

You know what, the best thing is that I know that she’s going to see him again at her child minder’s house and at playgroup, and I know that I’m going to be just as excited then as I was on the Santa Express.

I do believe in Father Christmas : )

2013-12-01 12.09.58_2

Are we there yet?

Missmuss ducks

Missmuss ducks

I can hear sleigh bells

I can hear sleigh bells

The Santa Special

The Santa Special



ho ho ho

ho ho ho

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