A few nights ago, I was feverishly writing down my wish list for Santa. I had already listed comfortable, white, Fruit of the Loom underwear, warm socks, a new snow shovel, a knit ski hat, and a heating pad, when I paused for a moment to reminisce about being a child, and the anticipation of a visit from Santa Claus. My family had a tradition of reading the poem, “The Night Before Christmas,” in front of a roaring fire, as we all sipped hot chocolate, and stared in wonder at a beautifully decorated Christmas tree, and colorful stockings hung above the fireplace. I’m not sure, if I’ve ever experienced that feeling of wonder and magic since. I still have memories of lying in bed on Christmas Eve, hearing a noise, looking out the window, seeing snow fall from our rooftop, and envisioning Santa Claus disembarking from his sleigh with an enormous bag, as eight tiny reindeer waited patiently nearby.
I remember from the poem, how Santa Claus was described as being dressed all in fur from his head to his foot, and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot. He had a broad face, and a little round belly, that shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly. He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf. His eyes how they twinkled. His dimples how merry. His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry. Wait a minute….. I just realized something. Except for not having a beard, I look exactly like Santa Claus! I guess that explains a few things. In November, I took a much-needed two-week vacation, stopped shaving, bundled up in my fur-lined red jacket, and enjoyed a few delicious alcoholic beverages. Well – maybe a little more than a few. I kept having smiling small children, rush up to me, jump on my lap, and recite lengthy Christmas wish lists, before departing with their frazzled parents, who usually gave me disapproving looks.
I guess, I must be getting pretty old. Can someone please tell me whatever happened to opening presents on Christmas morning, and finding Barbie or Raggedy Ann dolls, toy firetrucks, one-speed bikes, little, plastic toy soldiers, an easy bake oven, a BB gun, or possibly an amazing Sears wooden sled, with polished steel runners, and a convenient attached rope, to help navigate snow-covered hill tops? I also remember, being thrilled to find a whistle, a Hersey’s chocolate bar, and a big plump orange in my stocking on Christmas morning. Maybe, some of you younger parents with technological aptitudes, and obviously more intelligence than me, can explain a few must-have gifts on many of today’s Christmas wish lists. What in the heck, is a WIFI FPV version U818A drone with a 720P HD camera? I’m also having a little trouble getting my mind around a Kid Kraft Uptown Espresso Machine, and a Meccano – Erector M.A.X. robotic toy with artificial intelligence! I know we’re living in a modern world with amazing technological advances, but does a seven-year-old, really need the new Apple iPhone X 256gb Silver, with a OLED screen, rear telephoto camera, and password protection via facial recognition?
I remember a simpler time, when Santa lived at the North Pole with his elves, and they spent the entire year making toys for good little boys and girls. Whenever you sat on his lap, he’d always ask you if you had been naughty or nice during the past year. Pretty scary, huh? Did any of you, ever wake up on Christmas morning expecting a huge bag of coal under the tree with your name on it? Naughty or nice. Those were your only two choices. Personally, it was pretty hard for me to be nice all year round. I’ll bet, even the Pope was a naughty little boy once in a while. I would usually start being nice around late October, in the hopes of avoiding a toyless Christmas. Guess what? It always worked!
I think children these days are just too smart, and they start to lose their belief in Santa at an earlier age. I have no doubt that somewhere out there, a child is saying to his parents. “Mom, Dad; I just hacked into a weather satellite in a geosynchronous orbit above the North Pole. I’ve analyzed the data, and I can’t locate Santa’s workshop. I’ve postulated that a combination of global warming, logistical problems involving the shipment of millions of tons of raw materials to the North Pole, and the need to reduce labor costs, has facilitated a regrettable, but necessary relocation to mainland China. I’m fairly certain that when I open my presents this year, I’ll find that everything’s been made in China.”
Have any of you had to make up fantastic stories to keep your children believing in Santa for just one more year? Have you ever left a mall after a visit with Santa Claus, and had to explain why there were Santa’s on every corner, including Salvation Army bell ringers, Christmas tree salesmen, and a Santa with a sign that said, “Repent, the End is Near?” What about your child finding a closet full of presents, or the fact that half their presents are clothes, or things they didn’t ask for. I don’t know about you, but a few, little white lies were worth it, to see my children’s faces on Christmas morning.
Before I move on to another simple observation of everyday life, I was wondering about something. Is it just me, or does Santa seem to be getting skinnier every year? I know we live in a health-conscious society. I also know that losing weight and eating right is good for our health. I may even want to lose some weight this Holiday season, but come on – not Santa! Santa’s always been big. Every year he eats billions of cookies, and drinks millions of gallons of milk. He’s magic. He can handle the extra calories. He can fit down your chimney, can’t he? I was at the mall this past week and was a witness to one of the skinniest, most pitiful looking Santa’s I had ever seen. Some of the kids, who sat on his lap, weighed more than he did. Santa’s elf was bigger than him, for Heaven’s sake! I almost went to a local coffee shop to buy him an extra-large latte with whipped cream, and a couple of sticky buns, to fatten him up a little. Maybe this year, I’ll leave Santa a six-pack of beer, pork rinds, and a huge chunk of ring bologna. By this time next year, he’ll be back to his old self.
“Ho, ho, ho. Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”