Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Tale of Two Santas

Every parent has the propensity to exaggerate their own kid’s intelligence. Ask any parent and they’ll tell you, their kid is the smartest one in the class. He’s reading at a 5th grade level at six years old… She’s on the pre-school’s honor roll… He potty trained himself at 8 months, etc.

Believe me, I have been guilty of that myself in the past, but only because my kids really are smart. Or so I thought. I was fully convinced my kids had above average IQs until a few days ago. Now I’m not even sure they have IQs above room temperature. What made me change my mind so drastically? Not a what. A who. Santa.

Two Santas, actually. The two Santas upon whose laps they have sat this year. Now, I will give my three-year-old a pass, but the fact that Son Number One and Two came down off of Santa Number Two’s lap without a thousand and one questions leads me to believe that they may not even be smart enough to come in out of the rain. Come to think of it, they usually try to go out and play in the rain. I should have seen this coming, I guess… Anyway, back to the two Santas.

The first Santa we visited this year was the Santa at Son Number Three’s preschool Christmas party. He is the Santa by which all others shall be judged. He is in his early sixties, and has a real purplish-red crushed velvet suit and hat, with white fur trim that looks like it might have actually come from an arctic hare or an albino mink. He has a real white beard and real flowing white hair. He has real black boots that probably have actual fireplace soot on them. He has a deep, booming voice, a cold, red nose, and an honest-to-goodness twinkle in his eye. He is so realistic, I want to sit on his lap and tell him what I want for Christmas, just in case.

They all jumped down off of Santa Number One’s lap wide-eyed and filled with joy, utterly convinced that they had just put in a sure-fire lock of an order for some new Legos.

Then came Santa Number Two, the Santa at my wife's yearly family reunion Christmas party. Every year, one of the cousins gets to be Santa for the little kids. This year it was Greg's turn. Greg is about a foot taller than the unfortunate cousin who had to be Santa last year, but the family Santa suit remains the same. You know the suit I'm talking about. The suit and fur is the same thin, fire engine red felt and feathery, unnaturally bright white fluff that the cheap Walmart Christmas stockings are made of. The front of the suit Velcros closed over the fake belly, and the “boots” are really shiny black vinyl shin covers with elastic on the calf, meant to keep them in place over your regular street shoes. The white, curly wig and beard are made out of the same itchy acrylic that you find inside of stuffed animals and couch throw pillows.

Greg, the man who was barely inside the suit, is a 6’-3” tall, mid-twenties firefighter made entirely out of twisted steel and good breeding. He has no belly. He has no actual body fat of any kind. When he sat down in the Santa chair, the fake belly strapped to his midsection bobbed all the way up to just under his chin, and the cuffs of the bright red Santa pants came up over his knees. He kept having to hike up his faux vinyl boots to try and hide the tops of his shins. He could not have looked any more different than Santa Number One if he had been dressed as the Easter Bunny instead.

All Santa suit differences aside, the real kicker was his voice. When Greg dug down deep for what he later described as his, “best old man voice,” it came out as not so much old, but foreign. I finally settled on “vaguely British” as the best overall description, but it varied at times anywhere from “Scottish golf commentator” to “German foreign exchange student.”

We, as Greg’s loving and caring family members, were almost hysterical with laughter as we tried to pin down his dialect and watched as he fought with his uncooperative foam-rubber belly and desperately tried to hide his knees. My kids, however, were sitting patiently, staring at him with the same wide-eyed reverence and awe afforded to Santa Number One, just a few days earlier.

They jumped up and sat on his lap. They asked him politely for Ninja and Star Wars Legos. They thanked him, and promised they’d be good.

Come on, fellas. You have got to be kidding me! No questions? No comments? How short is your memory? It’s not like we’re showing you mug shots, here. You’re sitting on his lap, for crying out loud. Not only are you not asking me why you had to tell him what you wanted for Christmas again, but you’re not asking me any questions about why he looks and sounds so different than he did three days ago! Are you deaf? Did you even look at his beard?

Since my wife and I still love the fact that our kids believe in Santa, we are not willing to break the spell, so we can’t question them about the obvious inconsistencies they are being exposed to. As a result, we have no idea if they really don’t see any differences at all, or if they simply have such an unquestioning loyalty to the big guy, since he is in complete control over gift distribution, that they are not willing to step out of line and voice any concerns about noticeable variations, for fear of a demotion to the naughty list.

This is kind of an uncomfortable position for me as a dad. While my heart is mostly filled with joy by their apparent belief in Saint Nick, I also don’t want to be raising a bunch of suckers or suck-ups. The way I see it, we’ve got three possibilities here:

1) They are still young enough that the Santa experience is so overwhelmingly exciting that it blinds them to casual observations.
2) They are a bunch of toy-greedy sycophants, sucking up to anyone in a reddish suit in the hopes of scoring some free gear.
3) I’ve got a bunch of dim-bulb, mouth-breathers on my hands.

Man, I hope it’s scenario number one! I’m going to let it slide this year, but if Son Number One, at least, doesn’t have some serious questions next year when he’s eight years old, I’m going to start getting really worried!

See you soon,


Copyright © 2011 Marc Schmatjen

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  1. That is HYSTERICAL!!!!! Our whole family is laughing out loud! :) Gail and the gang

  2. “Scottish golf commentator” to “German foreign exchange student.” LOL!! I can hear David Feherty broadcasting the sleigh updates.

  3. "Have you been good, sonny? Are you making smart short iron choices near the greens?"

    Gail, I knew you guys would enjoy that. Please tell Greg to practice his Santa voice and we'll get leg extensions for the suit.