Dear Santa, Dear Dad begins with Steven driving hundreds of miles from London to a small village in the North of England after receiving his son’s letter to Santa in which he wishes that he “had a dad who loved me.” Steven is guilty of rejecting Andrew following his son’s admission, years before, that he was gay and even going as far as to ignore Andrew during his mother’s final days in the hospital and at her funeral. Upon reading Andrew’s letter, Steven desperately longs for a chance to apologize and hopes for a reconciliation. However, Andrew is understandably hurt and is not going to make this simple for his dad, but with the support of his partner, Peter, and the fact that Christmas is in just a few days, it seems that anything might just be possible.
Dear Santa, Dear Dad is a “snowed in” story with a difference. T.J. Masters has carefully stayed away from the romance tropes that readers often expect around the holiday season and instead he has written a novella about the importance of family and acceptance. True, Dear Santa, Dear Dad has sentimentality in sack-loads, but this is not a saccharine sweetness that threatens to overwhelm the reader. I felt genuinely privileged to be a part of Steven’s journey and the way that he handles all the new discoveries about his son’s life.
Masters has clearly given some thought into how his reader will become emotionally invested in this story and that is why Steven is our first-person narrator. I never disliked Steven, despite his obvious prejudice and forced estrangement from his son. I think Steven experiences enough shame and self-loathing and because of his direct and honest narrative, the reader has a real understanding of this.
I think it makes a refreshing change for the reader that in Dear Santa, Dear Dad we are able to see a gay relationship from an outsider’s point of view. There is a significant age gap between Andrew and Peter and the fact that Steven even considers that his son has “sought out a father figure to fill the void I’d left” made me cringe a little. Yet, this is a small thing and really the only issue that I had with the story.
Andrew and Peter’s relationship is clearly a balanced and settled one and Steven shows us how they have clearly adapted to their own roles, however outdated his initial views may be!
This family reunion could have taken place at any point in the year, but Masters really captures the essence of Christmas, which makes Dear Santa, Dear Dad such an endearing holiday story. Not only do we visit the church carol service with the characters, but there are the cooking preparations, the traditions like the Yule Log, the childlike excitement of surprise gifts – and of course the letter from ‘Santa’ that concludes the novella.
Dear Santa, Dear Dad is a humanizing and touching story that I would definitely recommend to anyone for this holiday season.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.