Ross O’Carroll-Kelly: ‘Is anyone going to own up to this Kris Kindle? Is this some kind of joke?’

I love playing Santa Claus. The adulation brings me back to my schools’ rugby days

“Ho! Ho! Ho!” I go.

I love this – as in, like, playing Santa Claus? Yeah, no, I've done it pretty much every year for the past 10 years when we get together with all our friends for our usual pre-Christmas dinner in Saba.

I'll tell you something that I'm not enjoying, though – the fact that the red suit feels more snug on me than it did last year. Either it's middle-aged spread or Sorcha isn't following the washing instructions on the label.

I somehow manage to get the buttons closed, then I snap on the big, white beard, pull on the hat and I’m ready. I throw the sack over my shoulder and walk out of the jacks.


All our crew stort clapping and cheering when they see me walking across the floor of the restaurant. They’re all like, “Hi, Santa!” and of course you know how much the Rossmeister General loves an appreciative crowd.

I stort handing out the pressies. We do, like, Kris Kindle every year with literally no limit on what you’re allowed to spend. I’m doing the full Santa thing, going, “Christian, that one’s for you! Ho! Ho! Ho! Amie with an ie – you’ve obviously been a good little girl! Here you are JP! That’s a big one for you!” until the presents are eventually all given out.

Then I go back to the jacks, slip out of the costume and return to the table and everyone does the usual thing of going, “Ross, you missed Santa – again!” and I pretend to be all disappointed.

It’s good fun – and, like I said, the adulation brings me back to my schools’ rugby days.

So, with dinner over, we all open our presents. I’m watching JP rip the paper off his and it ends up being this amazing drone with a camera attached. Amie with an ie gets a pair of, like, Bose headphones. Chloe gets a pair of Dubarry riding boots worth, like, 300 snots. Oisinn gets a pair of gloves – O’Driscolls, no less! – from Paula Rowan in the Westbury Mall.

I rip mine open and it ends up being a box. I take the lid off and inside there’s, like, an envelope. Then, inside the envelope, there’s a handwritten letter and this is what it literally says:

“A few months ago, I was supposed to take a flight to London. But, instead, I travelled by boat and train – mindful, as we all should be, of my corbon footprint. I took the savings I made – €320 in total – and donated the money to a charity that plants trees to offset the effects of deforestation. I made the contribution in YOUR name. They were supposed to send some kind of certificate but it still hasn’t arrived.”

And that’s it.

I’m like, “Is this some kind of joke?”

Oisinn goes, “What did you get, Dude?” and I hand him the letter across the table.

I’m there, “Whose handwriting is that?” looking around at everyone. “Seriously, who got me in the Kris Kindle?”

No one says shit - and you wouldn't blame them?

Chloe goes, “It’s supposed to be a secret, Ross. That’s the whole point of it.”

I'm there, "Well, I don't mind telling you that I bought JP the drone with the camera. And this is what I get back? What a focking mug I was."

Sorcha goes, “What is it, Oisinn?” because he’s finished reading the letter and he’s passed it on to Sophie.

Oisinn’s there, “Someone made a contribution in Ross’s name to a charity that plants trees to offset the effects of deforestation. That’s actually a very thoughtful present.”

I’m like, “Yeah? What don’t you have it then and give me the O’Driscolls?”

Of course, he makes sure to move the gloves out of my reach. He goes, "No, I'm happy with what I got, thank you!"

I’m there, “Is anyone going to own up to this? Or am I just going to have to go home and try to match the writing with the writing on your Christmas cords?”

Again, everyone stays quiet.

Sorcha goes, “Ross, you’re kind of ruining the evening.”

I'm there, "I'm ruining the evening? I got trees for Christmas. It doesn't even mention where the fock they even are. If I ever find out, I'll chop them down. I paid the price of a drone for the things."

Anyway, this conversation continues in the taxi on the way home. I’m like, “Was it you, Sorcha? You’ve bought me some pretty underwhelming presents over the years, including a goat which went to a family in – this isn’t meant to sound racist - but Africa.”

“Ross,” she goes, “it’s not about the material value of the present. It’s about the thought that went into it.”

I’m like, “That’s not how I was raised, Sorcha. And it’s easy for you to say – you got a new iPhone out of it.”

Into the gaff we go. Honor’s still up. She’s there, “How was your dinner?”

I’m there, “Don’t ask, Honor. I got totally suckered.”

Honor looks at Sorcha. She goes, “Can I give Dad his present now?”

And Sorcha’s there, “Honor, we do presents on Christmas morning.”

“But I’m too excited!” she goes. “I want him to see it now!”

And Sorcha’s like, “Fine. It might actually remind him what Christmas is really about.”

I’m looking around, going, “Okay, where is it? It better me massive.”

Honor's like, "Well, it's not actually a physical present?"

I’m thinking, here we go again. One year, Honor’s gift to me was a promise not to be horrible to me for 48 hours of Christmas – although she later explained that the hours could be spread over the 12 days leading up to the 6th of January and could include the time when she was asleep.

I’m dreading to think what this is going to be.

But that’s when she says it. She goes, “Do you know all those, like, video cassettes that your Dad has of all your schools’ rugby matches?”

I’m like, “Yeah, no, what about them?”

She hands me the laptop. “Well,” she goes, “I got them all converted into digital files - so you can watch them on the laptop any time you want.”

I don’t say anything for a good, like, 30 seconds. Then I feel tears falling down both sides of my face.

“Okay,” Honor goes, “I’m going to bed before he gets all sappy and tries to hug me. Merry Christmas, Dad.”