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How The World Wags

"And To All, A Good Night."
By Dave Kiffer

December 25, 2004

Ketchikan, Alaska - The following story may or may not be true. The names may or may not have been changed to protect the ......

Once upon a time, there was a little boy named "I".

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"I" was just barely old enough to be ready for school and just a little too old to believe in Santa Claus. It was a Christmas tradition for all the relatives - and there were a great many in those days- to gather at 'I's house for a spaghetti or enchilada dinner, tell a few tall tales, drink some eggnog and hot toddies and await a visit from Santa Claus, who would knock on the door bearing gifts.

The past couple of years "I" had noticed that right before Santa arrived either his father or older brother would suddenly be called away on urgent business, usually the boat needed to be checked on at Bar Harbor or some such thing.

"I" was a perceptive child and began to put two and two together. "I don't believe in Santa Claus anymore." "I" told his parents one year. "It's either Dad or K-. They always leave and then come back when Santa is gone."

"I"'s parents nodded and began furtively whispering.

But that year, something unusual happened. The dishes were being cleaned, the clock was ticking toward 8 pm - Santa's traditional arrival time - and both "I's" brother and father were still in the room. He waited for the
phone to ring at any minute.

Just then "I's" sister-in-law looked out the window and shouted "Here comes Santa Claus!"

"I" was a little surprised but he refused to join in the excited squealing of his younger relatives.

He peeked out the window, and saw someone walking across the yard toward the basement door. The figure stepped into the light. It was Santa, carrying a large package of presents. "I" was confused.

Just then, Santa stumbled into the drainage ditch that had been covered by snow. He fell forward and his bag of presents tumbled into the yard. Even through the window, "I" could hear him exclaim and he wasn't saying anything about "Merry Christmas to all." But he was sharing a few choice exclamations about "Jesus Christ, Almighty."

Santa collected his thoughts - and packages - and started pounding on the basement door.

"How come he isn't coming in through the front door like normal," "I" asked.

"You better go let him in," I's" father said with a smile.

"I" went downstair and let the jowly old elf into the basement. He seemed taller than normal and the Santa suit rode higher up his legs. He banged his head on the some planks hanging down from the rafters.

"Merry Christmas," he said, rubbing the top of his forehead. "Ho, ho, ho. Santa took one in the noggin there."

"Would you like some egg nog, Santa?" "I" asked.

"No thanks," Santa replied. " I'm driving tonight! Ho, ho, ho."

"I" helped him up the stairs and into the living room, where he was soon passing out presents to everyone. Sitting in his lap, "I" recognized his distinctive after shave. It was called "Jim Beam." "I's" father wore it all
the time.

As usual, there were many pictures taken and much merriment. Santa had gifts for all the boys and girls and even the parents as well. At one point, Santa invited "I"'s teenaged sister to sit on his lap. She courteously declined.

As the children were tearing around the living room with their new toys, Santa stopped for a minute with the adults in the kitchen. "I" noticed he was showing a lot of interest in a hot toddy.

"It is very cold out there," he said to "I's" father. "Need a little extra anti-freeze. Ho, ho, ho."

"I's" father slipped him a twenty.

"And a little more feed for the reindeer," Santa said. "Ho, ho, ho."

"I's" father guided Santa toward the back porch door.

"It's a little safer this way, Santa" he said. "No ditches to surprise you! Pass on our best wishes to the Missus."

"Merry Christmas to all," Santa proclaimed as he stepped out onto the porch. "And to all a...."

I.'s mom slammed the door in his face.

"Goodnight," she said with a sigh.

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Dave Kiffer ©2004

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