A deflated Santa waits for Christmas

Posted on 1st March, 2021

My stomach fluttered with excitement. It was nearly time for Story Brunch with guest Ian McMillan (poet). In lockdown, a year and half of shielding, McMillan’s morning strolls shared on his twitter @IMcmillan every morning, helped me connect with an early community and visit home through Ian’s stories of the Yorkshire landscape. I felt nervous to meet my early morning hero!


The clock’s hands quickly go round and round and it’s 10.50. I move from the sofa to the office and set up my computer. Tick, tock. It’s soon 11.00. I click into Zoom and in a flash Ian is in the waiting room waiting to be admitted. Here we go...


Story Brunch with Ian was relaxed and comfortable and safe. Annette and Zoe and I welcomed Ian and he welcomed us into story time. The theme was Dreams. We started to share stories. I won’t write them down here because it’s a confidential environment, we all discussed that we’d like to highlight some of the commonalities.


We all had different takes on the theme and came at it with our individual lived experience. We shared -


Frozen moments in time

A deflated Santa lies in a garden waiting for Christmas again when it will come back to life, Ian warmly told us. The rhythm of his northern accent took us to the street he walked down and saw this lonesome Santa.  He sat back and his story then led him from a dream he had to his real life of a moment of time of remembering when he was told John F Kennedy was assassinated and the time frozen in his memory of being at Church Lads' Brigade and being scared and thinking that there would be an invasion the next day and he would have to be going out to fight.

Key points in our lives

We all recalled stories of frozen points in time of where we were on 9/11 and July 4th in London, or Princess Diana was killed, or when John Lennon was assassinated. We learned about each other, how we grew up, and what was important to us around those times.

Key history points in the world but became key points in our lives, connecting us to those times and part of our self-evolution.


We had differing perspectives in our stories but commonalities of which key points in time became part of our identities. In brief and with permission, these were the realisation of: the impact of gender identity on a person; the effect of chronic illness on a person’s life and who they identify as, the journey of a career and taking time to pause and absorb a new identity.  


The frozen moment

A fitting end to the Story brunch, Ian gave us homework for us to report on at a future session with him in a few months’ time.  He both randomly reached for a book from his shelf and chose a sentence. ‘Right, take this sentence and write a story around it’, he said. He read the sentence out, and uncannily it linked to the stories in the brunch:  the joke is that I’m known in the industry as the frozen moment [put in gender we identify with here]’.


So now we are starting our homework. At our next brunch, (last Saturday of each month), we will go over what we have prepared for our next Story Brunch with Ian in the summer. Will our stories start to inflate Santa, getting him ready for the winter and Christmas?



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