… and out jumps good old “Ho-Ho-Ho!”
Hey, watch your mouth, friend.
Don’t tell me there’s no Santa Claus.
For one thing, anybody that can land a sleigh on top of a steep roof has to be not only real, but also really special.
Fact is, I used to stand in my grandfather’s front yard a day or so before Christmas and look up at his steep roof and wonder at the wonder of it all. In my mind’s eye, I could see (and hear) the rush of Dasher and Dancer and their teammates rushing down from Bain’s Gap toward Pleasant Ridge.
OK, so I never did really see Dasher and Dancer actually land — I was always asleep when they came — but I do recall my grandfather once replacing shingles near the “front room” chimney just after Christmas.
He told me there were holes in the shingles where Dasher and Dancer had landed a bit hard. He said they’d probably gotten tired coming all the way from the North Pole and had been “a little careless on their approach.”
(If you can’t believe your grandpappy’s tales … )
So what got a fully-growed man into this … this morning?
Blame it on this newspaper.
Got it out of the box the other day and the first thing that fell out was a “Toyland Catalog 2010” from my favorite general store, Wal-Mart. The turkey hasn’t even been thawed and suddenly “‘Tis the season.”
Thumbing through 52 pages of toys was remindful of Christmas strolls through Woolworth’s and Kress’s and Silvers (or do you remember?) in years past.
But one thing bothered me.
There was not a single picture of Santa to be found in the 52 pages of toys. There was this little elf here ‘n there, but no St. Nick. I wondered if political correctness had caught up with “The Night Before.”
Surely not . . . at least it hasn’t at Fred’s, another one of my favorite places to walk around and try to NOT buy things NOT on the list handed me by the blonde.
For that, I place in evidence the Fred’s insert that came with my Sunday paper a week ago.
At the bottom of the first page was old “Ho-Ho-Ho” himself. He was holding a big sign touting lower prices “for the season.” There was even a “28-inch LED Santa Claus Yard Ornament” that could be yours for $20.
And while I have seen Santa imposters down at Quintard Mall and ringing bells on Noble Street, it is true I’ve actually never seen the old man himself.
But I’ve been in his presence.
At least twice in my early years, in the dark of an old farmhouse in Choccolocco Valley, I heard him out in the “front room.”
I knew it was him because there was an old man’s shuffle to the steps and also a good bit of whispering. It was evident he’d brought along an elf or two for assistance.
It sent a chill through my soul and, frankly, I was too scared to get up and take a look.
But I’m going to own up to one thing — and I hope he doesn’t hold this against me this Christmas — but I haven’t always been happy with the old gentleman.
It was 1942 and I was fighting a courageous war against hordes of German and Japanese soldiers that had invaded my valley.
In need of advanced weaponry, I’d sent word to Santa that I would like a brace (two) of six-shooters. I got a two-shot pirate’s pistol and I’m still amazed that I won World War II with such a primitive weapon.
In retrospect, Santa knew exactly what he was doing . . . and that is also proof he is real.
Which means I gotta get started on “making my list and checking it twice.”
Merry Sunday …
George Smith can be reached at 256-239-5286 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org