Red sky in the morning, Santa’s warning!
My second weekend at the farm dawned with a blazing red sky and frost on the ground. It felt far too early to be awake, as I made a flask of soup and pencilled on my eyebrows. Not at the same time, I should point out, that would be weird, and quite difficult! I’m slightly aware that a red sky is meant to portend bad weather, and I’m not looking forward to experiencing a downpour in Christmas Town, where there aren’t many places to shelter in a huge crinoline skirt … I don’t feel quite so cheery this morning, but I’m determined to make the most of it. Even in the rain, it’ll still be fun, I tell myself.
I get to my post (my post is actually a candy cane outside my gingerbread cottage) just before ten in the morning, and I look around me, breathing a sigh of contentment. Santa is in his grotto, and all is right with the world. The festive music is playing without a hitch, it’s crisp, but not too cold and the first of the children is entering Christmas Town, about to make their way down Candy Cane Lane, and past my base in the North Pole. There’s nothing to be apprehensive about! I wave cheerily to the little one, a big smile on my face.
The child’s face crumples and they hide behind their father’s legs, and I realise with a sinking feeling that they’re going to cry, aren’t they? This has to be a record. I’ve already caused several children’s bottom lips to quiver – all it takes is talking too loudly, or waving my hands around a bit too vigorously, and we’ve all done it. One of the elves was distraught last week because they popped out from behind a Christmas tree and pulled a face, causing a little girl to dissolve into floods of tears. Since day one I’ve got better at sensing when a breakdown is imminent – you can see the hesitancy before the eyes start to well up. After the first day, I had perfected the technique of backing off, saying ‘I’m going to stay right over here and I promise I won’t come any closer …’ But a simple wave, from half-a-football-field away? Am I doing something wrong?
We’re busy all morning, and the first part of the afternoon, but by about three o’clock, the sky has begun to darken. The promise of the red sunrise began to come true as the first drops of rain began to fall. Mrs. Claus reminded me that my dress doubles in weight if it gets wet, so I look for shelter in the reindeer food store; I decide that I’ll help the visitors with their reindeer food instead of telling them about my gingerbread cottage, but all the visitors, like us, are seeking shelter. No-one comes near the increasingly muddy gingerbread cottage. The elves have disappeared, also keeping dry, no doubt, and Mrs. Claus has gone off to do story time. For the second time today, I feel a little bit disheartened.
But then, in the distance, I see a flash of purple. One of the elves is dancing through the puddles with her umbrella, even though there are no children watching she’s still wrapped up in her character. I find myself grinning, despite the rain and the crying children, there’s still real magic here. And even as I realise it, the rain begins to slow, and then stop as the last few rays of the evening sun shine out from behind a cloud.
Red sky at night, Santa’s delight.