Widower Steven drives to the North of England two days before Christmas to meet his estranged son Andrew hoping for a reconciliation. Steven had rejected his son when, as a 19 year old student, he came out to his parents as being gay. Andrew now lives with his partner Peter who initiates contact with Steven by forwarding on to him the almost childlike ‘Letter to Santa’ that the lad has written asking for a father who loves him.
At first Andrew is hostile to his father’s overtures but the bad weather conspires to strand them all together over the Christmas period. Father and son both experience a steep learning curve, not helped by the father realising that his son’s lover is actually older than he is. Proximity breaks down barriers and the three men work together in the spirit of cooperation and of the season to create a Christmas experience which will change their lives for ever.
Review by HP
Dear Santa, Dear Dad, is a thoroughly charming story of family reconciliation. When Andrew Barnes was nineteen, he came out to his family and his father Steven disowned him for it. Now that Steven is a widower, he wants to make amends. A letter he receives from Andrew’s partner Peter becomes the catalyst, sending Steven on a trek through a snow storm, a few days before Christmas for a surprise visit to Andrew and Peter at their cottage, located outside an quiet little village in Northern England.
I’ve never been to England, but T.J. Masters did a lovely job of painting the quaint little town and I had no trouble placing myself right there alongside Steven, through whose eyes we see the story unfold. I felt Steven’s nervousness as he first walked back into his son’s life, and his disappointment when the initial meeting didn’t go as well as he’d hoped—not that he really expected better, but he’d hoped.
Even though the reconciliation was Steven’s idea, he struggles to understand his son’s life, but the important part is that he genuinely wants to. And honestly, if it hadn’t been a struggle for him, it wouldn’t felt as real as it did. The small cast of secondary characters are well fleshed out as well, serving to anchor the reader village life.
Dear Santa, Dear Dad, is a short, sweet, mostly light-hearted story, and a perfect afternoon read, especially for the days leading up to Christmas.