Escape into Christmas a little early with this festive extract from Jaimie Adman’s new heartwarming romance The Post Box at the North Pole.
My eyes fall on yet another shiny red post box further along the road, in the direction Taavi took the dogs. ‘What’s with all the post boxes?’
‘They’re for Santa mail.’
‘Santa mail . . . Like when children write to Santa?’
‘Do they still do that?’
‘Of course. You’re thinking it should all be email now, but there’s nothing like the magic of sending a real letter. For a lot of people, a letter to Santa will be the only letter they write that year. People don’t even write shopping lists anymore – they put it on their phones. The excitement of sitting down to compose a letter, maybe drawing a picture with it, decorating the envelope, and then posting it . . . That’s magic to a child. The whole world has gone digital, but Santa is one person who should always uphold tradition.’
‘Does Santa get a lot?’
‘About 500,000 a year.’
I’m going to have to stop drinking when he’s talking because I’ve made the mistake of sipping my hot chocolate again and I promptly choke on it again. ‘You’re having a laugh.’
‘It’s a fair split between us and the Lapland Santa village in Rovaniemi, across the border in Finland – they get about 500,000 and we get a similar amount.’
‘That’s a million. Are you seriously telling me that a million children write letters to Santa every year?’
‘Well, Santa must be a multi-billionaire to provide that many presents. Don’t kids just give their lists to their parents so they know what toys to buy?’
‘Don’t be silly. The elves make the toys in the workshop at the North Pole. Santa only has to pay for materials.’
I genuinely feel like I’ve arrived on a different planet. He must be joking, but he’s definitely worked on his delivery because he didn’t used to be able to keep a straight face when telling a knock-knock joke, and no one laughs at a knock-knock joke.
‘Have you written to Santa this year?’
‘No, I haven’t, because I’m thirty-six.’ I give him my most incredulous look. How many more times can I ask if someone’s serious today? ‘You’re really into this whole Santa thing then?’
‘It’s magical. Our job is to make children believe in magic. Imagination is the most powerful thing any child has, and Santa’s job is to preserve that.’
Well, when he puts it like that . . . It does sound magical, and exactly what Christmas should be like for a child.