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Santa's Delight - a heartwarming tale for Christmas

Author Marisa Laycock shares the inspiration behind her new children's book

Posted: 17 November 2011
by Helen McKay-Ferguson

1) What inspired you to write a Christmas story recognising members of the police force, medical professionals, the Army and Navy, and others who work in services? Like many people, Christmas is my favourite time of the year. I love that warm feeling inside, there's a general feeling from within of generosity and hopeful anticipation. It's a busy time and many families come together to celebrate and feast! My father passed away a few years ago. That first Christmas without him wasn't easy and triggered many feelings. I started thinking about how lucky I had been to spend all of those wonderful Christmases with him. These tears and memories lead to my thoughts about other people who wouldn't be with their loved ones at Christmas for whatever reason. Training to become a Montessori teacher has enriched my perspective on life and encourages me to think globally. My thoughts soon went to the children all over the world who wouldn’t be with their mummy or daddy because of sacrifices made to be on duty over Christmas. I felt a deep sense of gratitude and wanted to share this feeling with everybody. I wanted to remind everybody about these people.

2) Are you a parent yourself? What do your children think about the book? I have a daughter called Sophia Elizabeth who’s nine. Sophia says Santa's Delight is a good book for children because it shows them how lucky we are to be with our families at Christmas and that we are protected by those people on duty.

3) How will you celebrating Christmas this year? Hopefully I’ll get all of my Christmas shopping done in time. Then my family and I go to St Albans Cathedral and enjoy the blessing of the crib and the mass on Christmas eve. The children enjoy the activities. Last year we had real live animals and then even Santa briefly made an appearance! Later we'll have some drinks with our neighbours before dinner. Then we get some presents ready while Sophia prepares a nice glass of Brandy, a mince pie for Santa and a fresh carrot for Rudolph. We spend Christmas Day in Fulham with my mother, brother, sister and their families. I have a niece and two nephews.

4) What are your memories of Christmas as a child? I have wonderful Christmas memories as a child. My father always liked to buy a huge fresh pine tree, which towered up to the ceiling. My brother and sister and I had lots of presents. We always ended up playing on my brother's Scaletrix. I remember seeing my Dad giggling away to Benny Hill and The Two Ronnies and lots of relatives turning up at our house unannounced on Christmas eve. Food was a central feature in our italian household, my mother’s a great cook and I remember eating Panettone in great abundance!

5) How do you think parents can foster a spirit of thankfulness over the festive season? As parents we have a responsibility to steer our children in the right direction. I think it’s helpful for parents to chat with their children about the meaning of Christmas in a fun way. Each generation of children seems to be getting more and more advanced, so when we explain what it means to be part of a community, I think they'll quickly catch on. Fostering a sense of appreciation within children is vital, as is helping them to understand the importance of our communities and how they're connected to society in general; and how in turn our society is connected to the whole world – a world which needs to work more collaboratively rather than competitively. Chistmas is a celebration, and I think children do realise that it’s about so much more than receiving presents. It’s is an opportunity to give, too. You could ask your children to have a little clear out before Christmas and give some old toys away. Or visit a elderly neighbour who lives alone and bring her a nice fresh poinsettia! The possibilities are endless.

Santa's Delight by Marisa Laycock (Matador, £5.99)

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