A delightful taste of Christmas past

DEAR old Santa Claus is a hard working guy. So many stockings to fill and so many little presents to find.

Now, though, there’s a place in Magherafelt where Santa can get a helping hand - step forward Mrs Humbug in ??? Street.

Stepping through the door is like stepping into candy heaven - the only thing missing is someone singing ‘The Candyman ‘in one of my favourite films to watch at this time of year - Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the original with Gene Wilder, the Johnny Depp incarnation was a little too high tech for my taste).

Jars of sweets line the shelves, bringing back too long ago memories of Christmas past, memories of me helping out my granny, who owned and worked in a sweet shop in Lisburn. Jelly beans, toffee and clove rock by the quarter, packed tightly into paper bags.

Most of the memories are present and correct. Cinder toffee and clove rock, dew drops and brandy balls (they’ll do for my dad) and rhubard and custard... mmmmm...

Deliciously sweet smells and colourful eye candy tease the senses, but there’s problem, what to choose to ask Santa for in those stockings?

That’s why I brought along my three little helpers - Rowan (11), Gina (10) and Leo (5) - who stand eyes popping and licking lips, looking longingly at the shelves above.

Onwards to the taste test, What will they ask Santa for?

After chewing over that question, and after several ‘what colour is my tongue now?’ queries, Rowan and Gina have a clear winner - the blue coloured raspberry bonbons.

Leo surprises me though. Usually he copies his big brother, ’cause Rowan’s ‘cool’ you see - but the topic of sweets seems to be a most important one that needs more careful consideration. It requires further deliberation and after a further tasting, just to make sure of course, he elects fizzy cola bottles as his stocking filler of choice.

So that’s that, and with a big thank-you to Mrs Humbug herself for hosting us, we’re off to put the finishing touches to those Santa lists by adding something small to sugar coat the day with a little extra sweetness.

Santa will, of course, be instructed to return on Christmas Eve and pick up the requested items, assuming the three little helpers remain good boys and girls over the next few days...

But as I’ve said before, Christmas sweets doesn’t have to be all about the kids. Mums and dads might be hanging up a stocking of two as well and they’ll need a bit of filling - we’re bigger you see, so naturally, our stockings tend to be bigger too (yes, I know, wishful thinking here but why can’t we all wish?)

I know someone who’d be quite partial to a Ferrero Roche tree, though I wouldn’t expect it to survive long in our house. I’d say it would be well wilted by Boxing Day, if it’s still bearing any fruit at all!