Sunday, December 7, 2008


My kids hate Santa. And I'm fine with that, because I hate Santa, too. Not the idea of Santa, not even all Santas, but this Santa in particular is a second rate, low rent, redneck Santa Claus, and I'm not a fan.

Let me say that it's not in my character to hold a grudge. But I guess that some offenses cannot be overcome very easily, and although I thought I was over it, the sight of this Santa was enough to send me reeling, and here's why.

Last year, we went for our Santa pictures with our local multiples club. What I had envisioned as a pleasant visit with Santa, full of precious photo ops, turned quickly into a trying experience that has left me and my twins scarred for life.

Santa entered the room in a burgundy Santa suit that must have been on the discount rack at TJ Max. Sure, his white hair and beard was real, but Santa's suit is red, not burgundy, and if you can't tell the difference, then you need to get your eyes checked, or you need to consult Christopher Lowell. He proceeded to read some unknown story in a terrible Southern drawl, and he hadn't even committed it to memory. Imagine Santa fumbling over the words of some obscure Christmas story, trying to read upside down, and losing the interest of scores of small children in the process. Why not memorize "The Night Before Christmas" and simply turn the pages slowly in the interest of captivating your audience, which, by the way, has an incredibly short attention span?

And since when has Santa had such a pronounced Lower Alabama Southern accent? The last time I checked, Santa was from the North Pole. I have never heard Santa say, "You done a good job, Billy," or, "Hey, Blitzen, we're fixin' to take off!" But all of this could have been overlooked, had it not been for the unsolicited advice he dared to give me.

The wife was nowhere to be found, and dealing with two screaming one year olds who just wanted Daddy to hold them was a bit daunting. So, while holding my daughter, I grabbed my son by the wrist and gently lifted him up to my hip to cease the crying. And that's when Santa stepped in. Or, rather stepped in it.

"You know," quoth Santa, "that at that age, their arms are not fully developed, and you can actually pull their arms out of their sockets pretty easily lifting them like that. You should really lift them under the armpit. And I'm not telling you this because I think it's true. I learned by experience. It happened to me twice with my kids before my doctor explained it to me."

Wow. Santa, you probably shouldn't drink so much Vodka before jerking your kids around like rag dolls. And you didn't learn your lesson the first time? What do you do to pass your time in the off season? Drunken elf tossing? Toddler flinging? How do you pull your kids arms out of their sockets twice and still make a living posing as Santa Claus? You are more frightening than a sad French clown.

So this year, I was secretly happy that my kids wanted nothing to do with this trailer park Santa. It was a validation of my skepticism of the second rate Santa Claus and his unwanted advice. Perhaps next year, the twins will be more accepting of Santa. And perhaps, we will visit another Santa altogether. A kinder, gentler, less abusive Santa Claus with an eye for color and without a regional accent. And without unsolicited advice. And, no, my kids' arms have never left their sockets.

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