I don't want this blog to become All Christmas ... All the Time, but I did say I would get another Second-Rate Santa Saga up this weekend. But this will be the last one until late next week or even the weekend, because I'd hate for my readers to require insulin after too many tales of sugar plum fairies. In another couple of weeks we'll all be so sick of hearing Jingle Bells and All I Want for Christmas is a Hippopotamus that the only way to make our spirits bright is to mount a giant hippo head above our fireplaces. But I digress.
I've had a hard time deciding which Santa tale to go with next. There is my personal favorite,which I think will be titled Midnight Meat, - but I have special plans for that one later on in the month and besides, I need to set up a few things through other stories first. There is one highlighting the immaturity of grown men, myself included, that I'll call, Ye Olde Yuletide Log, but since I described the three kinds of adults that visited Santa in the last post, I think I'll do the same with kids in this one. Again most of the kids fit in one of three categories. The Awed - These were the kids that approached wide-eyed with mouths agape. To them I was a mystical hero capable of fulfilling all their dreams and wishes. The would climb up on my lap and speak their hearts desires in whispered tones. And they would listen with rapt attention as I instructed them to listen to their parents and not fight with their brother's and sisters. I'll tell you there wasn't near enough of these kiddos, but they were the ones that made it fun. The Scared - Again these kids were wide-eyed and their mouths were open - screaming at the top of their lungs. "No! I don't Want to! Please Mommy, please!" Nothing makes you feel better than to instill raw terror into small children. I know what Quasimodo felt like. But it could have been worse. The parents could have gathered up torches and pitchforks. Instead, they handed me their squalling and bawling offspring and then stepped back and said, "Smile, pretty for you picture honey." Ever try to get a terrified kid to stop crying and smile? It ain't easy. Especially when the very thing they are afraid is holding onto them.
The Skeptical - These are the kids who walked up with narrowed eyes and smug grins. The IRS should hang around Santa's throne at malls and recruits these little doubters cause once they get on your case they can't be dissuaded. And is there really much difference in these two questions? "If you're really Santa then where is you Reindeer?" "Mr. Erwin, do you really expect me to buy into your claim that you traveled to Las Vegas solely for book research?" They have the same ring to them huh? Yep, and it is about as joyous as the racket those Salvation Army Santas make out in front of Wal-mart. And here is a little tale to prove my point. There I was sitting on my throne, well not my throne, the mall's throne they built for Santa. My throne is made of porcelain and doesn't have a stitch of red velour in sight, but at least there is always a good book near my throne. But back to Santa and the mall. The line was fairly long as it was a weekend afternoon. In times like that I fell into a routine. Welcome the next group in line, ask them what they want for Christmas, smile for the picture, and then tell them to be good little boys and girls because my elves were watching. In between I'd try to wave to the kids that gathered around the little white picket fence. For a long time I noticed this one little girl about eight or nine standing there. I'd wave but she wouldn't respond. Finally, a small boy of about five joined her at the fence and finally the two of them along with a man and woman got in line. A good fifteen or twenty minutes went by before they made their way to the front. Here is the scene that followed. "Merry Christmas," I shouted. The boy smiled. She did not. "And what would you like for Christmas?" The boy said, "A new bike and a hamster." I turned to the girl. "And how about you." "I know you're not the real Santa Claus, and my mom won't let him have a live animal cause he squeezed our parakeet until it died." At this point Galen, said smile and the flash went off, but the girl wasn't done. "The real Santa doesn't have time to sit around all day taking pictures." "So what does the real Santa do all day?" I asked. "He builds toys." "I have elves to do that." Yeah I now. I was arguing with an eight-year old over something she was right about and I was wrong, but I had to have fun somehow. "And he has to feed the reindeer." "They fly around and find their own food," I countered. She rolled her eyes, "Right." I appealed to her little brother who I decided was an easier sell. "You be a good little boy and Santa will leave you a surprise Christmas morning." "Will you bring me a hamster?" "I'll have to ask your mommy first. Santa can't bring you something unless your parents say it's okay." At this the girl gave a hearty, "Huuumph," and hopped off my lap. She grabbed her brother's hand and drug him off with her. As she left I heard her say, "See, I told you he wasn't the real one. The Santa can do anything he wants, as long as Mrs. Clause says it's okay." I couldn't help but laugh, but deep down I already felt sorry for the poor guy who would end up married to her.