The planning of the annual Santa photo is very involved. Choosing the date and the time causes a lot of fights with everyone yelling the details of their tight and restricted schedules and for further emphasis, sending me text messages in CAPS with how challenging and unreasonable my request for a trip to Santa actually is.
But I wouldn’t be defeated.
The afternoon of Sunday, December 13 was the scheduled appointment with a few rolling their eyes and groaning at the injustice of being dragged away from something as important as x-box, for an afternoon in the city.
However, despite my best efforts, the Santa photo didn’t take place. That is because Alfie competed in a biatholon that morning and by the time it was over and we were ready to leave for the city, Santa had no more available appointments.
So I had to reschedule. Everyone. Furious text messaging followed and after I’d worn down my fingers to my elbows, it was agreed that on the first day of Alfie’s school holidays, we would try again. There is really only one place in Sydney to see Santa and that is the Queen Victoria Building. And I wish I’d kept that to myself because visiting Santa at the QVB is becoming increasingly popular and so many people are being turned away there are tears.
Alfie and I took the ferry into Circular Quay then hot-footed it to the QVB. We ascended the stairs of the heritage listed 1898 building two at a time and charged towards the appointment booth. We’d managed to get there by 10am and as Santa would be there until 9pm, we were hopeful. The woman behind the desk said to me, ‘There is currently a seven-hour wait to see Santa’. That’s not a typo – a SEVEN hour wait to see Santa. I saw a family behind me being given the same news. The three children were all dressed in pressed dresses and shirts with not a hair out of place and shiny-clean faces. I wondered how they would look in seven hours.
So the little guy and I had seven hours to kill. It’s a virtual queue where you get a text message when it’s nearly your turn and then you run back to where Santa is next to the Swarovski Christmas Tree that took 102 people 44 hours to bring to life.
We wandered around the shops of the QVB, stopping at Pandora where you had to queue up outside the store to be allowed in. That sorted the first hour. Then Alfie was hungry so we had yum cha at the Chinese restaurant on the top floor of the building. Alfie ate five pork buns and five vegetarian dumplings and then we were on our way.
He wanted to visit Hobbyco toy shop where they had a race car track where he could be in charge of the remote control. That took care of another hour. Then he wanted to go to JB Hi-Fi; that chain of ugly stores where you can’t find anything you want, anyone to serve you, nor even the counter where you pay.
Then we wandered around the city buying green smoothies to keep up the energy levels and doing little bits of shopping.
Finally, I received the text message I’d been waiting for. I messaged Drew and the kids and asked if they were on their way. ‘In a cab’, was their reply. Alfie and I raced back and again ascended the stairs only to be told Santa had gone to feed this reindeer. For half an hour. After such a long wait I felt someone was trying to tip me over the edge. Alfie and I sat down at a cafe for a drink. He had a soft drink, I went for hard liquor.
The three remaining family members arrived all looking fresh as daisies. But Archie was sporting a vile moustache saying he had a 70’s party to go to on the 20th and as the 70’s was all about facial hair it was an important part of his ‘costume’ which had to take precedence over sitting on Santa’s lap clean shaven.
It was a long day but I got my photo!
Merry Christmas from the Hotly Spiced crew.