You’ll all be happy to know that the same crap-ass vagrant that was staggering around the Christmas tree farm posing as Santa last year was there again this year.
EM and Boy were still too chicken to knock on the door of his little shack, so naturally they sent Missy. She marched right to the front of the queue (which, to be fair, was little more that a loosely assembled group of 2 or 3 other families with parents trying to coax their equally timid children into knocking on the door) and demanded an immediate audience, which she was granted forthwith. Her newly emboldened siblings climbed shamelessly onto her coattails, and followed her in, as did her dorky parents.
So there we stand—the entire family—in a dimly lit, dusty hovel, before a shaggy bum of questionable sobriety who, in turn, is seated behind a wobbly, makeshift desk. Christmas in Norway folks. Ain’t it a gas! Our host wastes no time in fixing his rheumy eyes on Missy—my precious baby angel—and asks, “Well now. And what might your name be?”
Suddenly shy, Missy bows her head and mumbles, “Mithy.”
“Eh! What’s that now?” His gaze darts from me, back to Missy, then over to EM, “Whudd’ she say?” he barks thickly.
“Missy. She’s Missy,” EM answers. Like DUH-UH.
“Missy. Riiiight.” He picks up his greasy quill and carefully writes her name in the large ledger lying open in front of him. M-I-S-S-Y. “And where does Missy live then?” He directs this question at EM whose shyness apparently only applies to knocking on doors; grizzly old geezers she’s all bright shiny sunshine for.
EM doesn’t miss a beat as she mechanically recites the address that she’s only recently memorized. My grip tightens a little over Missy’s hand as I watch this shoddy, second-rate Santa write our address next to her name, and I wonder, “Um, is this such a good idea?” Too late.
EM has even kindly corrected him where he’s written a 3 where there should have been a 4 for our house number. Then he asks, “How old is Missy?”
“Very good,” he mutters, as he scrawls a 3 in the age column, “Now,” turning back to Little Miss, “What would Missy like for Christmas?”
Silence. Apparently, not even EM has the answer to this one. The silence drags on as we all look at each other and shrug. Boy pokes Missy in the cheek. Missy sticks two fingers in her mouth.
“Humph,” grumbles the old man, “How ‘bout I just surprise you then?” he says, and writes the word ‘present’ in the last column. “Best to put a little reminder here see. Just so I know you’ve been good. Heh heh heh. Right. Next?” He shifts his attention over to Boy, “And what’s your name?”
“You live with your sister?”
“And how old are you this year?”
Santa’s hand trembles a little as he writes the 5, and I think if he asks if he’d like to sit on his lap we’ll just run. I’ll grab the book, and we’ll just run.
“So then. Do you know what you’d like for Christmas?”
Boy thinks for a minute, steals a quick glance at his dad for a bit of encouragement I suppose, then says quietly, but clearly, “An X-Wing Fighter.”
“I’m sorry?” Santa leans forward, “What was that?”
“An X-Wing Fighter,” Boy says again, louder this time.
Santa looks up at Mister with a blank, Dude help-me-out-here kind of look.
“X. Wing. Fighter.” Mister says slowly, “It’s from Star Wars.”
“Star Wars. Riiiiight.” He mutters something droll about santas needing to take an English course to do the job these days while he’s doing his best to spell ‘fighter’ in his ledger. From where I stand, it looks something more like ‘feiter’, but I let it go.
“And finally we come to big sister,” says Santa, sitting up straight again, confident that the articulate, intelligent young lady who’d just been so helpful with that address business wouldn’t have anymore surprises for him, “What’s this pretty lady’s name?”
She spells it for him, then adds helpfully, “I’m 7 years old.”
“Of course you are. A very big girl, indeed. Ho ho hoooo!”
And again I’m thinking: grab the book, run, grab the book, run, grab the book, run….
“Do you know what you’d like for Christmas?” he asks with what I think is meant to be a jolly wink and a grin, but succeeds in being little more than a drunken leer.
EM takes a deep breath, then lets it rip, “ALittlestPetShopRoundAndRoundPetTownPlaySet,”
Santa grunts, “Eh?”
EM takes another deep breath, “ALittlestPetShopRoundAndRoundPetTownPlaySet,” then, ever helpful and eager to please, she adds, “Like on TV.”
Santa looks to Mister and I for help, but we can’t stop laughing.
“Say it again EM. Say it again!”
So she does, “LittlestPetShopRoundAndRoundPetTownPlaySet.”
And we laugh again. Harder this time.
I don’t know what he eventually wrote in his book. He might have settled on just “pet shop”, but I’m not sure. Doesn’t really matter, as I later explained to the kids. Clearly that skinny, rumpled degenerate was not Santa. He was just one of Santa’s many Norwegian helpers come to make sure there aren’t any last minute changes to be made to the master list. And a good thing too. As I know for a fact that Santa had indeed set aside one brand spanking new LittlestPetShopRoundAndRoundPetTownPlaySet with our address on it. Only trouble is, he had put Missy’s name on it. Elder Miss was only supposed to get the pretty pink Nintendo DS.
What to do? What to do?
Santa went shopping again. And Elder Miss is, without question, the most spoiled child on the entire planet. But clearly with good reason.