Drink? Yes Please, But Something Stronger Than Holiday Cheer!
One of the things I like best about this time of year, as the father of a small child, is that the opportunities to entertain said child are myriad. During most of the year, if you suggest "shopping" to a small child, you'd think you'd told the child you were going to read him the entire U.S. Tax code as a bed time story. For the rest of the year, if a stranger has cookies or candy, you tell your child "we don't take food from strangers" or "it will ruin your dinner", not "well, OK, seeing as you're only vibrating at that low frequency, why not. Have one more."
And at other times of year, if you suggest to anyone that you plan to have your child sit appallingly close to a complete stranger with a garish, almost cartoon fashion sense you might get a call from Child Protective Services, but during this time of year as long as the gentleman in question is obese and wearing sufficient false facial hair to ensure that under no circumstances could he ever be identified in a police line-up, you are considered mildly neglectful (or, dare I say it, Jewish) if you refuse your children this ritual.
And so today, dutifully, I bundled Liam up in his warmest clothing and hauled him out to the car to go out in search of the elusive Santa Claus. And it's quite the search, generally at this time of year you can go to five or six shopping centers and not find that the jolly fat man more than five or six times. Really, it does make one start to wonder if Mr. Claus is actually in the employ of the Department of Homeland Security and you have suddenly found yourself on some sort of terrorist watch list, considering how many places to which he seems to follow you.
Still, though, it's worth the effort, there's nothing quite like the joyful tears in the eyes of a child who knows he is going to get to get to tell Santa his deepest desires for Christmas morning. And they express their gratitude to you so sweetly, usually with some variant on the phrase "but Daddy, I want to play Wii!"
Liam and I started the day out with a "hey ride", so named because everyone in the horse-drawn carriage said to each other "Hey! These cold metal seats would be much more comfortable if they had some straw or something to sit on." Horse-drawn carriage rides have a certain nostalgic charm in theory, but we must remember that they were invented in a simpler era. A time when Santa wasn't painfully aware that his every move was being taped by 17 different cell phones, such that the slightest hint of an inappropriate glance on his part will result in the confiscation of his false beard and quite possibly his gonads. A time when the Wii had only four or five games available, and they were all variants on "pong", but that was OK because the TV hadn't been invented yet, so there was really no way to play them. A time when there was so spectacularly little to do that nipping off for a drink or seven and then heading out into the cold night with a dozen similarly inebriated people to torture various homeowners with horrendous renditions of Christmas carols was seen as a good night's entertainment.
Actually, I strongly suspect that Caroling wasn't invented so much a fun activity as it was a self-defense mechanism, because at least if you are drunk and singing at the top of your lungs in 7 different keys you aren't sitting at home, sober and being accosted by the same cacophony often enough that by the time Christmas actually arrives, you can think of no better Christmas gift to find under the tree than a pair of newly sharpened pencils, ready for ramming deep into the ear canal as a protection against any such future assaults.
Next up in our daily agenda was "story time", rendered by the town librarian, and if you can find a woman who's style and demeanor scream "librarian" (but scream it in a respectfully quiet whisper) more than this woman, I'd like to meet her. She first read a well known story in simple verse about a home invasion on Christmas morning, while the inhabitants are all asleep in the naïve belief that their home is secure against just this sort of intrusion, and then for a change of pace she read "How the Grinch Stole Christmas".
I joke about "A Visit from St. Nicholas", better known as "Twas the Night Before Christmas", but in all honesty, can you read this story these days and NOT realize just how different times are today? They clearly had MUCH stronger hooch back in those days, who today would consider going to bed in a kerchief or cap, or be so unabashedly sex-starved as to talk about the "breast" of new fallen snow. And the man of the house, presented with this jolly secretive fellow doesn't whip out a cell phone and begin texting photos of the man to his friends and the National Enquirer, and his children, not lying in bed awake thinking greedily about their "haul" in the morning are peacefully dreaming of "sugar plums" and other Christmas goodies.
Anyway, Liam and I finally made our way down to get on line to see the jolly fat guy, were each handed a miniature candy cane by a different sort of "sugar plum" in an elf costume, and then our afternoon was over and we made our way back home for a good, old-fashioned Yule-tide Saturday afternoon. Dad dozing on the couch dreaming of holiday blog entries, Liam playing the games on the Wii he'd been so cruelly denied all afternoon.
[Note for those playing along at home, this was the third essay written in the "15 in 30" series.]
Copyright © Dec 11, 2010 by Liam Johnson. http://humor.liamjohnson.net