Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Being Santa

All three of our boys still believe in Santa. Son Number One just turned eleven. Either we’re really good, or he’s not that bright.

It doesn’t snow where we live. They never question the probably massive coefficient of friction between metal sleigh runners and a dry concrete tile roof, or the amount of sparks and noise that would occur on a hard landing. We have a glass-encased gas fireplace with a chimney that’s only as big around as a soda can. They never question the logistics of his entry. They leave milk and cookies out in front of the glass for Santa and carrots for the reindeer. The milk and cookies always disappear, and there are muddy reindeer hoof prints on our front walkway and little bits of chewed-up carrots on the lawn every year. They never question how or why the reindeer come down to the lawn to eat, or what happens to the sleigh when they do.

Now, don’t misunderstand. We’re no longer in the starry-eyed new parent phase of trying to “keep the magic alive” for our “precious boys.” Frankly, they’re really not that precious anymore. At this point it’s more of a contest of wills. A Christmastime Mexican standoff between them and us. How long can we continue to fool them?

The boys of Team Slightly Skeptical are starting to question a few things, but so far we parents at Team North Pole are holding our own. Having the kids help with household chores backfired on us a few weeks ago when Son Number Two found the hidden roll of “Santa wrapping paper” behind our bedroom curtain while he was vacuuming. He is by far the sneakiest of the three boys, so he didn’t tell us. Luckily, his best friend’s mom overheard the conversation the next day as Number Two was telling his buddy, “So if Santa’s gifts show up wrapped in that paper, we’ll know.”

We bought a new roll of different paper the other day. Ha! Take that, pal. Score one for Team North Pole.

Last night I was helping my wife wrap the gifts from Santa with the new paper. By helping I of course mean I was on the couch watching TV and giving her moral support and occasional helpful tips. Santa had gotten two of the boys bow and arrow sets, and my wife was getting ready to just wrap them up in their factory packaging.

“Shouldn’t we remove them from the box?” I suggested helpfully.
“Why?” she asked, with an annoyed tone that I just frankly do not understand.
“Because it would look a lot more like an elf-produced toy if we did.”
“OK, maybe so, but all the Legos say ‘Lego’ all over them.”
“Yeah, I told them a few years ago that Santa has an official licensing agreement with Lego.”
“Well played. Do you really think we need to unbox these, though? There’s so many zip ties.”
“I’m just saying. Son Number One is eleven. He might start noticing this kind of thing.”
“OK, are you planning on helping at all?”
“I just did, honey. You’re welcome... honey, holding scissors like that is unsafe... honey!”

The truth is, I’m not sure Son Number One would notice that kind of thing. Or he would simply choose to ignore it. He’s certainly getting a lot of pressure to ask questions from his fellow fifth-graders, but he remains loyal to Kris Kringle. I’m sure he’s in the minority of kids his age who still think a magical jolly fat man performs a flawless B&E on every single house in the world in less than twelve hours.

“A girl in my class doesn’t believe in Santa Claus, but she believes in unicorns.”
“Well, son. I’m not sure what to tell either of you, then.”

So far, so good, though, but we had a major hiccup on the parental side of the standoff this year at the family Christmas party. The boys already “know” that not every Santa at the mall is the real Santa – they are Santa’s helpers, hired by the big man himself, so he can stay at the North Pole and supervise the elf toy production. I swear, kids will believe anything as long as they’re getting presents. Anyway, at the last minute I had to step into the big red suit and be Santa for the kids at the party.

Hmm... Can’t disappoint the other kids and not have a Santa, but this is really going to throw a wrench at our story. Our boys will definitely know it’s me...

That voice sounds familiar... and why does Santa’s breath smell like smoked meat and craft beer? That’s what Daddy’s smells like. Hey, wait a minute...

*beard gets pulled down, little children crying*

We needed to avoid that.

“Huddle up, boys. We’ve got a problem. Santa just called and told us his helper who was supposed to be here tonight got stuck in traffic on the 101 and can’t make it. Santa asked me to fill in, and sent the suit and beard over via Amazon Prime. The UPS guy just delivered them. So you guys need to do an amazing job of pretending for all these little kids who don’t know about the whole Santa’s helper thing, OK?”

“No problem, dad. It’s so cool that you got to talk to Santa on the phone!”

Not one of them asked to see the Caller ID. Booyah! Chalk another year up for Team North Pole.

Merry Christmas,


Copyright © 2015 Marc Schmatjen

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