I am Santa Claus.
I am. I’ve just downsized.
Rather than worrying about all of the children in the world—good Lord there are a lot of them, you know—I focus all of my attention on one very special little boy. All right, maybe he’s not that little, but he sure is special—because he’s mine. And as far as he’s concerned, I am Santa. I have all of the qualifications—the ones that really count, anyway.
- I see him when he’s sleeping
- Sometimes when I go in his room to say goodnight before I head out home, he’s already crashed out, curled up in bed, his slightly sullen teen-aged face relaxing in repose to once again form the lines and curves of the angelic face I remember from when he was a quarter the size he is now. I do enjoy those moments.
- I know when he’s awake
- More accurately, I usually know when he’s been awake. If I go over there at 11:30 or noon and he’s still sound asleep, with no signs of waking, then chances are that the night before, when I saw him go to bed, it only lasted until I was safely out of the house and on my way home. As soon as the Mini’s tires were on the road, my little red car following its headlights through the night toward my own bed, that boy was up and on his computer, logging into game servers and talking to friends he has around the country. I was thirteen once too, remember, and though I was usually up half (if not all) the night reading books (people just didn’t have computers when I was thirteen), the final effect was the same: bleary eyes, a pale face, and a tendency to nap at the drop of a hat. I’m a father, not a fool.
- I know when he’s been bad or good
- That’s my boy: of course he’s been good. There’s no question. You come to me with unsupported accusations that he hasn’t, and chances are you’re going to go home with all the bits of you I consider unnecessary carried in a sack: teeth, testicles, and something a little more internal if I’ve got the time.
Of course, if you come to me with some sort of proof he’s been bad, well, that’s a different story. Then he’s likely to be carrying the sack—metaphorically, anyway. There is that thing about being good for it’s own sake, and he does that, don’t get me wrong; but he’s also good because if he isn’t, it’s his ass. Merry Christmas.
- Shouting, crying, and pouting
- We shout. We’re an excitable people. We shout when we’re excited, we shout when we’re upset, we shout for simple emphasis. At times we just feel the need to project our words all the way to the back row. There’s no harm in that, and if there’s no harm, then no foul, right?
We cry. We’re an emotional people. You think I’m going to tell my kid he can’t cry when every time I watch the movie RUDY (1993) I start to blubber at the end? I begin to well up right about the time the boys are all laying their jerseys on the coach’s desk, saying “This is for Rudy, Coach,” and by the end of the movie I’m a sniveling, snot-nosed, teary-eyed mess. If my boy feels bad enough about something that he starts to cry, then I feel bad, too. I wish like hell I could take away whatever it is that’s causing his pain, but I’m not going to tell him not to cry. Tears are a little like bad gas: better out than in—though you may want a little privacy.
We do not pout. Period. I’ll go along with the shouting and crying, that’s all fine; but if you have a problem and you want to sit there pulling faces about it, well you damn well better be ready to tell me what the problem is and try to do something about it if you can. I’ll help, if you’ll let me. There’s only one situation where pouting is tolerated in my house: when I want to do it.
- I’m coming to town
- Yup. Early Christmas morning, before the sun has even thought about getting up, there I am buzzing along with my cargo of prettily-wrapped presents for the boy. No, I don't have a red sleigh and eight tiny reindeer: downsized, remember? I consolidated the whole thing into one tiny red car, the rear seats folded down in my shoebox-sized Mini Cooper to accommodate more than you think should fit—sometimes more than you think could fit, somewhat like that mythical bigger-on-the-inside sack I’m supposed to carry.
In the end, all of it comes down to being the guy sneaking the presents into the house—though if you think I’m having anything whatsoever to do with that chimney, you’ve got another think coming. I go in through the front door, shushing the dogs as I do. I arrange the gifts in a way I hope will please the eye, piling the smaller items on top of the larger, forcing him to open them in ascending order, hoping at least one of the damn things will inject my hulking, surly teenager with a bit of uncontrolled cheer. For instance, this year, though he asked for some bits to help him upgrade his desktop computer, we had a bit of a whip ’round and simply bought him a new gaming computer. The result:
Ho, ho, ho . . .
In the interests of full disclosure, some family members helped pay for the thing (thanks Mom, Dad, and Sis!) and Handsome's mom picked it out. All I did was order it, wrap it, and sneak it into the house. Just like Santa . . .
Happy New Year, everyone! Talk to you later.
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