Lucie Luddington- Brights Senior Agent gives back at Christmas
Story books in hand, and dressed in a dirndl costume and appropriate headwear, I recently volunteered my help to a local organisation. Little did I know what magic awaited me.
When in London, I often use a local Open Air Pool—an awesome lido with a great sense of community and a must for all those who love the outdoors. During the Autumn, post-conversation with the staff, I delighted in offering my assistance as “Chief Story Teller” alongside Father Christmas.
It’s rare in life that you get a real sense of magic, but this was one of those evenings. The mist rose off the heated lido while the moon appeared through the darkness, setting a perfect scene. As people queued for entry, I spied a number of children already heading my way. (Father Christmas, at this point, was still on his sleigh!)
But then the doors opened, Father Christmas arrived, and I began to read aloud my stories. As a children’s illustration agent, I’m privy to particularly awesome books and ideas. But playing out stories in real time—in the company of real children gleaming with excitement—was something else! Alongside the stories, wish lists for the FC were written. Requests included tights and chocolates , iPads and puzzles…But I was saddened to discover that very few books were asked for.
Is this because children now associate books with reading and work instead of story telling? One educational, the other a pure part of life and bedtime? I truly hope not! If this is the case, it is my lifelong aim to readdress this balance, whether with my own children who are still just a little twinkle or those of my friends. Books are about stories, dreams coming to life, magical worlds turned tangible, and much more! Not just maths or English books. I did my best to captivate the kids with my books, and it seemed to work! For as the evening developed, so did the requests and the sense of Christmas.
Against the magical back drop of the pool (with now said appropriate inflatable polar bear and the choir singing carols) I started to really relish the role of Lady from the North Pole. As yet, I don’t have children. But I gained a real sense of what it must be like for parents on Christmas Eve! Many mums and dads drew closer when I asked the children what they would be leaving out for the reindeer and Father Christmas. One dad even made the brave move of stepping in the grotto and saying he thought Father Christmas likes beer, to which the child replied, “Daddy how do you know that!?”
Fortunately no secrets were given away. And while my local open air pool continued in helping add to the spirit of Christmas, children’s dreams alongside mind came true.