This blog was originally posted December 2008. I am on vacation… deal with it.
I don’t believe in Santa Claus. I really never have. We didn’t have a chimney in Pennsylvania (ironically, in Florida we did). What we had was a piece or horrible furniture that looked like a chimney and where the mantle would be opened into a combination wet bar/phonograph where my father would store his apricot brandy and my mom’s Seals & Croft records. The lit logs were plaster with circulating red and orange lights. Because of this atrocity, this conversation ensued:
JIM: Dad, if we don’t have a chimney, how does Santa get into the house?
DAD: He has a key.
JIM: For everybody?
DAD: Yeah. Everybody. Now go to sleep.
JIM: Okay. (Pause) Wait. There are twenty-two houses on this block.
DAD: And he has twenty-two keys.
JIM: But that would mean on this side of the highway to eighth street he would have over one hundred and sixty keys.
DAD: It’s a really big key chain. Go to sleep.
JIM: In this city alone there would thousands of keys.
DAD: (Frustrated). You got me. There is no Santa Claus. Your mom and me buy all the stuff.
JIM: Really? So there is no way I am getting that Star Wars Millennium Falcon for my Han Solo you said you’d never buy me?
DAD: No. And you’re not getting a ColecoVision either. You already have an Atari.
Two words, Dad: Skeleton Key. But my father, God bless him, wasn’t know for his creativity. This is the same guy who used to give unwrapped cartons of Menthol Kools to his friends for birthday gifts. As you can tell, my father never really tried to sell the concept. My brother wasn’t much different. I can’t imagine I will be either. I remember my father watching Walter Cronkite during the Great Cabbage Patch Scare of 1982 and commenting, “It’ll be a cold day in hell when I wake up at 4:00a and get my leg broken by a bunch of assholes* to get you boys some stupid toy.” I learned very quickly there are things you do for yourself and things you do for your children. My father had a very distinct line that separated these things.
I have one picture of me with Santa. I was dressed in a red onesy (shut up, Spell Check, that isn’t even a real word) with a hood over my head and mittens. I am not able to walk so I am completely trusting on my parents judgment of who I should have my picture taken with. The point is I don’t know where I am nor do I care. So why is this picture being taken?
For my mom.
I have come to the conclusion that parents will sometimes do things to their children that do not serve their best interest for the sake of a good photo op. The difference is my mom is not a whack-a-nut. If your kid, like me, sits on Santa’s lap with the same expression Humphrey Bogart has when someone points a gun at him, more power to you. Enjoy your picture and fond memories. If your kid reacts the way I would assume Richard Simmons would if someone pointed a gun at him, you ma’am, are a nut.
Exhibit A: The Moms.
I am going to assume this woman is from France or some European place where berets are still fashionable or I am going to hate this lady even more. Look at her kid’s face. Santa isn’t a jolly bringer of joy to that baby. That is a fat man in fuzzy pajamas she doesn’t know. And let me tell you something else. Your kids hide behind your leg and refuse to talk to the people you work with. What makes you think this guy is going to fare any better? Now the kicker is look at the mother’s face. This crazy chick is completely oblivious the the entire process or just doesn’t give a shit.
I know my baby is upset, terrified and crying… tell you what, let me hold her just long enough to get a picture.
Again, I am assuming that baby is a “she” which is the only thing preventing me from calling Child Services on this woman. The second mom here looks like she actually had to sit on Santa’s lap in a failed attempt to calm her kid down.
Exhibit B: Singled Out.
If you let some random stranger hold your kids while they screamed their heads off, begging for the secure embrace of their mother who is standing five feet away, anytime between January and November so you could take their picture, you’d be a psycho. At Christmas, people line up and pay money to do this.
Exhibit C: Once, Twice, Three Times A Baby.
And out of curiosity, under what circumstances would you expect anyone to ever hold more than one baby at the same time? I am sure there are moms out there who do it but not willingly. If someone, probably anyone, offered to hold one of those kids most moms would jump at the chance. Most of these Santa’s look like kindly old men who make a little extra coin six weeks a year pretending to be Santa. He’s retired. He doesn’t need this shit. Why don’t you just ask that poor old man to spray himself with pheromones have a knife fight in an elevator with a crack-addicted monkey? Seriously, that one in the center with the three babies? What the hell was that parent thinking?
What, you can’t hold three babies at the same time? What kind of dime store half-ass Santa are you?
Unless you’re Amish or a biker (or an Amish biker) how many people really have beards like that? To a child, that’s just a masked stranger taking him from his mother who probably lured him to the Galleria with promises of toys and hot pretzels. And at what point will anyone look at these pictures with fond memories of the event? It isn’t like their crying is necessary like you’re getting your four-year-old daughter her Depo-Provera shot. They are crying for your enjoyment.
Let’s make this clear, this is about you.
I worked with a very nice woman named Tara who had one son named Alec. He was the Chosen Son. The reason we haven’t all frozen and died is because the sun shines every morning out of his ass. There were seven pictures on her desk, all of them of her son. If you didn’t know you would assume she was a single mother since excluding Alec, there was no proof a husband existed (or maybe, just maybe, she conceived him herself… cue cherubic choir). She once showed me a scrapbook she’d finished which was a four inch thick testament to Alec’s first three years… not a picture of his father to be found. She once called me to show me she had finally put a picture of her husband on her desk and when I got there to bear witness, there was a picture of her husband… holding Alec. I immediately disqualified the picture as invalid. At three they decided it was time for Alec to go to Disney World and when her mother made the reservations… she cried on the telephone to the customer service rep.
Seriously… she cried.
Meanwhile Alec was somewhere minding his own business oblivious that his mother and grandmother were making memories for him that he wouldn’t recall a year from now and hoping that Mickey Mouse, a character reduced to corporate mascot that hasn’t appeared regularly in cartoons in sixty years, would fill him with glee and isn’t just a six-foot rat in a tuxedo.
There are people that will tell me, “Wait until you get kids,” to which I will kindly refer you to the first paragraph and my upcoming biography of my father, “I’ll Give You Something To Cry About: The Wit And Wisdom Of Edward Ford.”
I don’t cry in Santa pictures. I knew better.
* My father seldom swore in my childhood and I am quite certain he didn’t at this occassion either. That is my own colorful interpretation. I don’t drink and smoke. Please leave me and profanities alone.