So with Christmas coming up, I thought that I should tell you the story of my Christmas last year. It was truly a special one. It all began when I went to the mall to get some last minute shopping done. It wasn’t going well, I kept getting distracted by the kids lined up to see Santa Claus.
Okay, so I was more distracted by the knowledge that I was so close to Santa, but couldn’t actually see him. They really do a good job of hiding him back in his little North Pole workshop. There’s not even a window into which an eager guy like myself can focus his peepers to get a little glimpse of the big man. It’s evil, really.
So, I did what I had to do. I waited in line.
C’mon, like I wouldn’t wait in line to meet John Lennon or Loni Anderson if they were letting kids sit in their laps. This might be a once in a lifetime opportunity. I mean it was Santa Claus!
So I waited in line. For forty-five minutes I waited. I got into a fight with the kid behind me because he said that Kenny from Southpark could beat up Meatwad from the Aqua Teen Hunger Force. I told him that he was outta his mind. Meatwad would kill Kenny!
His mom finally had to separate us, which was lucky for him, cause I was about to give him a knuckle sandwich. Fortunately, it was about then that a little elf, who looked like she had to be a 20-year old Phys. Ed major at a local college told me I was next.
“Is that your son?” she asked me as she looked at the kid whose underestimation of Meatwad’s intelligence and braun would surely come back to haunt him one day.
“Him?” I said with a snicker. “Ha, nooo. I’m here alone.”
“You’re here to see Santa by yourself?” she asked as she gave me the once over.
“That’s right,” I said. Then added, “But what time do you get off work? I’d love to take a little elf like you out for a drink after work.”
“Uhm, like, I work until Christmas. I’m an elf and we elves don’t get any days off until Christmas is over,” she said as she smacked on her Hubba Bubba Bubble Gum while looking disinterestedly toward the rest of the line.
“Oh, right,” I responded, “I get it.” And I gave her a little wink.
She lifted her arm gesturing for me to enter Santa’s workshop. I gave her my sultriest look as I walked past the velvet rope she had removed to allow me to pass. Then I turned quickly to the kid behind me and stuck out my tongue as I hurried toward Santa.
“Ho ho ho,” came the voice as I entered. It was him! “And how are we this fine day?”
I entered and closed the door behind me. “I’m fine, Santa. That’s a cute little elf you got out there. Maybe you could put in a good word for me.”
“Um, sure, sure.” Santa said looking past me. “So, do you have a kid with you?”
“Nope,” I said. “Just me.”
“Hmmm. I see,” said Santa. He looked around as if looking for some help.
I stepped toward him and slid myself right into his lap. I tried to sit gingerly, as I’m aware that I’m pushing 200 pounds.
“So what would you like for Christmas?” Santa asked with a voice that would have made you believe I was sitting on his chest and not his lap.
“What, am I crushing you Santa?” I asked.
“Actually, I am about to turn 78 in a month,” he said.
“Don’t you mean more like 478, Santa?” I said smiling. I wasn’t just some kid, I knew Santa had been around forever.
“Right, well, either way, maybe you wouldn’t mind sitting in that chair over there,” he said. “Every now and then Santa likes to have a face to face conversation.”
“Gotcha,” I said. I hopped off his lap and pulled up a chair so that we were sitting across from each other. I crossed my legs and leaned back like I was sitting down to chat with an old friend. It really was amazing just how comfortable ol’ Saint Nick can make a guy feel.
“So, now, what can I do for you?” he asked me.
“Well, you know, I’m not really here to ask for gifts,” I said. “I know your hands are tied in that department. I mean I asked for plenty of stuff when I was younger that you never delivered. Don’t get me wrong, you brought me plenty of good stuff over the years, I understand that every kid can’t get everything he asks for. I’m not bitter about it at all. But the fact of the matter is that I’m just not really here in that capacity.”
“Alrighty then — um, what’s your name?”
“Alrighty then, Mike, what is it I can do for you today?” he asked me.
“Well, I guess I’d just like to see how you’re doing, really. Is everything alright? I mean this world of ours just keeps growing and growing and growing. How is it that you can keep track of everyone? How is it that you can truly tell who’s been naughty and who’s been nice? I mean I had a girlfriend once who was really naughty, but I didn’t know that until it was too late. I mean I suppose you’ve got magic on your side, she just had crabs. But you see what I’m getting at?”
“No,” he said, staring at me blankly. “I’m afraid I don’t.”
“Let me ask you this, Santa,” I said leaning forward to get closer to him. “What is it that you want for Christmas?”
Santa just sat there staring at me. For a moment I thought he might have died.
“Santa?” I said, just to make sure he hadn’t.
“Yes,” he responded breaking out of his reverie, “I’m sorry. It’s just that no one has ever asked me that before.”
I smiled to him and leaned back to await his response.
“You know what?” he began. “I’d really like a really comfortable pair of boots. I mean these things are killing me. I’d also sort of like to get an iPod or something. Those trips all over the world on Christmas night can really be dull. By the time I’m done, I’ve got the sound of jingling bells in my head until Memorial Day. And I’d really like a nice bottle of good scotch. I mean I’m not talking Dewer’s or something. I’m talking about some 18-year oak barrel aged scotch. Something from Scotland, or Iceland, or Greenland or some place that has a land at the end of it.”
“How about Disneyland?” I asked.
“Oh! Ho! Ho ho ho!” he bellowed as he pointed at me. “That was a good one.”
We laughted heartily together for a moment, then as the moment slowly came to an end, we settled back into our chairs, staring at our legs as we contemplated the delightful exchange we’d just shared.
We sat in silence for a brief moment when the cute little elf stuck her head inside the workshop. “Santa, are you ready for the next little boy?” she asked.
“Um, no, not quite yet,” Santa said. “We’re gonna be a few more minutes.”
As she gave me an odd look and closed the door, I shot her another wink. Then Santa said, “Want some Schnapps?”
“I’m sorry?” was all I could say.
“Peppermint schnapps,” he said. “I always keep a couple bottles in my boots. Make days like this go by so much easier. Plus, it smells like candy canes. No one thinks twice.”
“Sure,” I said.
He reached into both of his boots and pulled out two bottles of Dr. McGillicutty’s peppermint schnapps. He tossed one over to me. “Merry Christmas,” he said.
I thanked him as I caught the bottle. We unscrewed our respective schnapps bottles and took a healthy pull.
“Santa, there’s a question I really need to ask you,” I said.
“Do you eat all the treats that kids leave out for you?” I asked.
He smiled, leaned forward to look at me closely, then gave me a look that seemed to inquire as to the seriousness of my question. “Are you nuts?” he said.
I took a swig on the schnapps as I waited for him to continue.
“Do you have any idea how many people would like to knock off ol’ Saint Nick? Father Christmas? Santa Claus? It’s a lot, I can assure you.”
I was stunned. “I suppose I never thought about that,” I said. “But who would want to kill you? All you do is bring joy and happiness throughout the world.”
Santa leaned forward and said with a whisper, “It’s the Jews.”
I almost shot schnapps out of my nose.
“Santa!” I said. “That’s just not fair assumption.”
“Oh, believe me, I’m not assuming,” he said. “In fact, a few years back I caught this one kid sneaking into his neighbor’s house and dropping rat poison all over the cookies they’d left out for me. Turned out he was jealous.”
“I’m not sure how I feel about that,” I said. Having grown up in a predominantly Jewish community, and having a group of friends that include people of all races and religions I found myself offended.
“Please, don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of Catholics, Christians, Muslims, Buddists, and Pastafarians that’d like to get their hands on me as well,” he explained. “To be honest, it’s the Republicans that I’m most worried about. And besides, I’m actually Jewish. Not many people know that. As it happens, Mrs. Claus is Jewish, I converted. But my PR guy thought it would be best to keep that under wraps.”
“I gotta say, Santa, I’m just really not sure how to take all this information,” I said.
“Well take it for what it is, an old man a little high on schnapps talking with a new friend,” he said with a smile. Then he raised his schnapps bottle as in a toast and took a pull. I followed suit. “It’s a dangerous world out there these days. What with all the political correctness that everyone seems to be so concerned about following. There are some radical thinkers these days that would love to pick me right outta the sky with a hunting rifle. I’ve lost three Blitzens that way.”
“Oh my, that’s horrible,” I said.
“You’re telling me,” Santa said. With that, he laid his finger aside of his nose, then leaned forward and pulled another bottle of schnapps from his boot. He leaned back with a thump and stared absently into space. “Got a light?” he asked.
I hadn’t noticed, but he’d slipped a Winston in between his lips. “Sure,” I said. I hopped up to light his cigarette, taking care not to ignite his beard.
“Well, Santa,” I said as I slipped the lighter back into my pocket, “It’s been great chatting with you.”
“Mike,” he replied, “the pleasure has been mine.” He shook my hand and looked me right in the eye. He flipped me a wink and I turned to leave. As I walked through the door, I heard him launch into a coughing fit. I looked back to see his belly shake like a bowlful of jelly.
I waved good-bye as I exited Santa’s workshop. My face was glowing from a combination of the warm schnapps and the warm conversation. I knew then what my Christmas shopping for the afternoon would consist of, a trip to the shoe store for a new pair of boots, a trip to the Apple store for a fresh iPod, and a trip to Binny’s Liquor Depot to find an expensive bottle of scotch. I also stopped off at the Disney store to buy some Mickey Mouse ears to rest on the scotch. I’m clever that way.
Christmas couldn’t arrive quickly enough. I wrapped up all the packages and set them near the fireplace so he couldn’t miss them. Luckily, I happened to have a dreidel as well, so I left that out also. I could hardly sleep, I was so excited for Santa to get his gifts.
The next morning I sprang from my bed. I ran to the living room to find it full of discarded wrapping paper. Santa had found the gifts and taken them with him. Then I spotted a note.
Thanks so much for the wonderful gifts. You’ve truly made my Christmas. I know you said you didn’t want to ask me for anything for Christmas, but you may not have realized that you actually did ask me for something. Below is the phone number of that cute little elf you had your eye on. I put in the good word for you.