When my kids were young we wanted to see their mouths open in speechless wonder, at the sight of a red clad fat man stuffing red pillow cases and stockings with goodies.
When Husband came home, always only after Santa had left, he was given breathless, wide eyed accounts. Son always claimed he saw reindeer flying outside the windows. Over-imaginative liars! They never noticed specks of white cotton on their Dad's cheeks.
The kids and I were alone one December. After they were asleep, I took out our crudely stitched but precious red and white cotton costume stored next to the red wedding lehenga. A friend and I had promised to be Santas for each others kids.
The disguise was crude. Bollywood style cushion for Santa's paunch, and cotton glued on the cheeks for beard. Who would step out looking like this?
The gifts including those for the maid's three daughters could be given the next day, but the friend was pacing the floor in the next building. And if one does not make eye contact, there is no nervousness. Santa stepped out of the flat and into the lift.
The lift man stared in astonishment. Santa looked straight ahead.
A late night dog walking friend halted in his walk, the dogs looked excited. Santa wanted to say, "You are smarter than your human!" but had to scurry away into the lift of the next building.
It was worth the dazed delight in two pairs of sleepy eyes. I was mighty proud. And since the maid had no idea, she was too shocked to react. Some hohoho, and hand the shiny packets to her little girls - and literally, gratefully escape into our flat.
Almost immediately while I was peeling off the beard, the door bell rang. "Memsaaabjeee, memsaabjee, woh Santajee!! ... hamare ghar Santajee aye!"
(Mr Santa came to our house!)
"Aap the?!" (It was you!?) I wish she'd given me some time to change :(
Today two harassed sounding friends organizing a Christmas Carnival called. Please, please, could Son please be their Santa? Son gave a look that said, "Don't even think about it." Daughter is away at a camp.
They had Gifts, Guests, Games, Music, Stalls, Circulars, Announcements and now at the last moment their Santa can't come. It was a real emergency. If I wasn't so sleepy when they called I know I would never have volunteered.