‘Come and sit on Santa’s knee’. And that wasn’t Santa talking to me, that was Santa talking to my mother.
When I was growing up in New Zealand there was a department store that we called ‘Kirks’ because it was short for Kirkcaldie’s. Every December my mother would squeeze us into her tiny Escort and take us to Kirks to see Santa. As children we were oblivious to the going’s on but the Santa was a uni student who behind the beard was incredibly good looking and beyond that red suit was rather red-blooded. He used to look down the line of mothers queuing with their children and he would pick the ‘yummy mummies’ he wanted to sit on his knee.
Without fail, my mother would be one of those selected and she would say, ‘Oh, it’s okay thanks, I think it’s the children who would like to sit on your knee’.
‘Oh no’, he’d say, ‘You’re the mother of these fine girls. You must come and sit on Santa’s knee. Now come over here.’
And one of those young ‘Santa’s elves’ would hurry my mother over to Santa’s knee and there she would have to sit while Santa’s arm would come around her waist and give her a big squeeze. She called him ‘Groper Santa’.
This Santa quickly became the talk of the town (amongst the housewives) and at every Christmas function the conversation amongst the housewives was, ‘Have you been to see Santa at Kirks? Did you get asked to sit on Santa’s knee?’ But it was a very bad moment for the poor housewife who had to confess to her yummy mummy friends that it was only her children who had been on Santa’s knee.
These days nobody sits on Santa’s knee. That’s just not politically correct. Santa’s seat is wider and has room for children to sit beside him rather than on him. And Santa doesn’t have his hands on anyone!
I still make my children visit Santa; even the teenagers. They hate me for it. But the photos I have of all the visits to Santa are a wonderful record and although not the best family portraits, the images are treasured and are the source of many laughs.
I’ve done the recce on the best place to take your kids to see Santa and hands down it’s the QVB (Queen Victoria Building).
The QVB is spectacular without Santa sitting in a Swarovski Crystal Garden but the QVB gives you more than just Santa with a Christmas tree that stretches from the ground floor to the top of the dome. The tree stands at 24mtrs (80ft), has 60,000 lights and is decorated with 144,000 Swarovski crystal ornaments. The tree takes 40 hours to install and has been put together by a team of 72 people.
This Christmas, for the first time ever, the central dome of the QVB, will be transformed into a giant, real life snow dome as snow falls from the ancient stained glass ceiling.
Proving that sometimes seeing really is believing, snow will cascade beautifully onto the Christmas Tree during select times. The snowfall will enchant children as they wait to visit Santa and will remind us all of the magic of Christmas. (It’s not actually real snow – we don’t have that in Sydney).
Regarding Santa, here is something I’ve taken straight from the QVB website:
Due to unprecedented demand, Santa is experiencing wait times of between 1 to 3 hours. A buzzer system is being utilised to allow you to wander and enjoy the QVB rather than stand in line. The Santa Set is available for viewing during centre opening hours, so children can still see and wave to Santa even when the photo queue has reached capacity for the day.
Santa’s first ever appearance at the QVB takes place in the sensational Swarovski Crystal Garden. Framed by a delicate paper cut-out trellis, the garden is inspired by Victorian whimsy, twirling wrought iron and traditional 19th century Christmas cards.
This frosted folly features sparkling mushrooms, flowers, butterflies and a dramatic Swarovski crystal encrusted throne set beneath a glittering ceiling of suspended Swarovski crystals. A wonderland for children, the garden offers portraits with Santa, and is a place to be dazzled and dream in the heart of the city.
Photo packages with Santa begin at $27.95.
I’ll definitely be taking my three to see Santa at the QVB.
Queen Victoria Building
455 George Street, Sydney. Ph: 9265 6800