Weeds: Having a ball with Santa Claus

I enjoy being a husband for the most part. It has its days. But, hey, what job doesn’t?

In marriage, various roles get divvied up. One of mine is to see what made that noise downstairs when we are up in bed. I have always hoped it would not end up with me getting conked over the head by a crazed psychopath who had broken into the house. So far, so good.

The other night Pam had not been awakened yet by a scuffling sound down in the living room. I figured it was the cat, but thought I better check in case it was a crazed psychopath. When I got to the bottom of the stairs, I saw the Christmas tree lights were on. Then I remembered what night it was.

There was Santa sitting on the couch. “Santa! It’s been a while. How’ve you been, man?”

Santa jumped a bit; I think I startled him. “Oh, hi. Taking a little break. I always looked forward to your house since you started putting out braunschweiger. It was a nice break from cookies, cookies, cookies.”

“Oh, sorry, I forgot,” I said apologetically. “When you don’t have kids around, you forget these things. I don’t think we have any braunschweiger. There’s some garlic summer sausage in the fridge.”

Santa waved a hand, “No, thanks, I’m trying to drop a few pounds.”

“But…but…you’re Santa.” I found myself stuttering.

Santa pursed his lips. “I know, I know: ’round little belly, bowl full of jelly.’ I’ve been carrying that around for a couple of centuries now. You know that’s visceral fat, which can lead to cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes? Anyway, I got your letter.”

Oh, yeah. I almost forgot I sent that back in November. “I think I was being rhetorical if I remember. But I thought it couldn’t hurt to ask.”

Santa reached into his pocket, and pulled my letter out. “You know, letters to Santa are rare nowadays. We get a lot more Instagrams. I like that you drew a reindeer on yours. It kind of looks like a cow, though.”

“I never could draw,” I confessed.

Santa nodded. “Let’s see you asked for, ‘an improved tone to public discourse, a return to common courtesy, respectful debate, and more listening on all sides.’ Those are all good things to ask for. But I’m not sure I can give you any of them.”

I agreed. “I understand. I mean you’re Santa; it’s not like you can work miracles. So, did you bring me anything?”

Santa dug into the sack lying on the floor. Out came a gift with my name on it. “I brought you a pliers. I know you always lose them. And I brought you a baseball.” Santa saw my quizzical look. “You always wanted a baseball when you were younger. So I brought you one.”

“Did you bring something for Pam?” I asked.

Santa looked at me, “You know she’s hard to shop for?”

“You’re telling me!” I nodded my head.

“So I brought her a ball, too. We have an oversupply of balls. For years kids wanted balls, and we always made them ahead. Now everyone asks for electronics.” Santa frowned. “This job isn’t getting any easier, you know. I’m constantly losing good elves to Silicon Valley. It’s not really about money. It’s more the California coastal lifestyle vs. the North Pole. It’s a tough sell, even with our lower tax rates.”

Santa checked his phone to see the time. “Do you have to get going?” I asked.

“I got a few minutes. Since the elves hooked up GPS with auto-steer to the sleigh, we’re much more efficient. No more wandering around in the fog while Rudolph flashes that nose of his. You know what else is tough?” I could see Santa wanted to talk. I pulled a chair over next to him.

“First, you want an eggnog, or maybe a Schell’s? I’ve got some of the new Snowstorm,” I said.

“Thanks, I’m good. Schell’s always ships the first batch of Snowstorm to the North Pole. The elves get pretty excited when that comes in.”

Santa continued, “You know what else is tough right now? It’s the whole naughty-nice thing. The elves set up a review process long ago to establish naughtiness and who got a lump of coal. That worked for years. Now all the people who watch Sean Hannity think that everyone who watches Rachel Maddow is naughty. And all the people who watch Rachel Maddow think that everyone who watches Sean Hannity is naughty. I’m tempted to give all of them coal. But then the Hannity people like coal, so that won’t even work.”

Santa was slumped over on the couch now. “To top it off, we have to fight about saying ‘Merry Christmas!’ I never imagined someone could say ‘Merry Christmas’ with such venom. Talk about taking the merry out of Christmas.”

I was squinting now. “Yep, Santa. It’s not the gladdest of yule times. We seem to snip at each other a lot.”

Santa sighed, “Bullies get all the attention. It’s like the worst kids in fourth grade suddenly were in charge. How’s anyone supposed to believe in Santa when everyone’s so angry.”

I dug for something positive. “Well, there was that letter to Virginia. I memorized this years ago: ‘Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.’ Love and generosity and devotion are still around, I hope.”

Right then, Santa looked over at the little nativity set under the tree. He pointed at that and said, “That’s when I have to remember my job. I give gifts to honor the first and best gift of Christmas, the baby born in Bethlehem. Jesus came to Earth to sow love where there was discord and contempt. I guess we might need another 2,000 years.”

Santa sighed and began to shove up from the couch. “I better get moving. The reindeer get antsy if I set too long. I better call the Mrs. to let her know where we are.”

I was ready to go back to bed. “Next year I’ll remember that braunschwieger.” I said with a wink.

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