Santa Claus is Calling

Santa Claus is Calling

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  1. One of my guilty pleasures is watching America’s Funniest Home Videos every Sunday night. I am particularly fond of the holiday shows where my namesake regales us with videos of kids reacting to holiday-related characters, like when the little girl screams with dread and terror when Peter Cottontail hip-hippidy-hops up to her table. I bust a gut every time. Of course, with Christmas coming, we’re bound to see plenty of clips of kids fleeing Santa in horror. As it is a Christian holiday, I suppose we should be grateful that the baby Jesus in any Nativity scene is as unthreatening as can be. Imagine your embarrassment should your child point at the babe in the manger, shriek and race down the street, hollering, “Jesus is going to get me!”

    Many parents try to frighten or delight their children by having “Santa” visit their home on Christmas Eve. Personally, I don’t think this is wise. After all, most parents tell their kids that Santa spends every Christmas Eve delivering presents to kids all over the world, and that he always comes in the wee hours of the night. Seeing a very relaxed and casual Santa appear at 7 p.m. Christmas Eve—and then watching him leave without visiting any other houses in the neighborhood, let alone slither down even one chimney—is likely to confuse your children. Why on earth are the kids leaving milk and cookies out on a table in the living room for the bearded fat man at bedtime if he shows up before dinner?

    Visiting the Santa in one department store or another has to be equally confusing for the kids. How do you explain to them that there’s a different Santa in every single mall?


     When his twins were about six years-old, my friend did a thing that I thought rather wise. He called me up in the afternoon on Christmas Eve and asked me to call his house at 9 p.m. his time (he lives in New York), pretending to be Santa. I did as requested, and really threw myself into the part.  After all, I have a white beard (though not as impressive as Santa’s), am a jolly fellow (though I favor dark comedy) and I have a paunch that would astonish even Mrs. Claus. So I called and ho, ho, hoed for a bit, asked them if they had been good boys and wrapped up by telling them that I had about a billion homes to visit and had better get going, promising that I would stop by their house when they were sound asleep. Due to their sleepiness because of the reasonably late hour—not to mention my sterling performance—they bought it without question. Even now, at the age of 21, they still talk about the night that Santa called them up personally, long distance from the North Pole.

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