Christmas is, apparently, way scarier than Halloween. For Drew. It’s not like we’ve been subjecting him to mall Santas or, heaven forbid, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol — a story that is the perfect combination of Christmas and Halloween colorfully merged like British seven-layer dip.
What I’m talking about is varied, comprehensive, all pervasive, unavoidable. I’m talking about Independently Famous Characters Dressed up as A Version of Santa out there in the public arena during the holidays. They scare Drew. They should scare all of us.
I’m going to go ahead and get a little disclaimer out of the way: Drew has a timid streak. It seems oximoronical to say he has a “streak” of something like timidity, but when threatened by anything he perceives as dangerous, you better believe he will be streaking out of there, like lightning, like a football field streaker, light on his feet like Muhammad Ali. Take our carriage ride in downtown for instance: it was all we could do to restrain his little kicking legs in time for the driver to giddy up the horse down 7th. “Back to stroller!” he whined.
But with regular Santa Drew does not have a problem. I use “regular Santa” loosely because there are truly so many versions. We will see a regular guy dressed like Santa on TV or in a book or driving a green Suburban with a cigarette in his mouth, and Drew will observe, rather scientifically, that “there’s Santa!” The words “Santa Claus” actually come out sounding like “Sah-Cause” which is similar to his Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, “Wow-Wayder.” At any rate, anybody legitimately attempting to be Santa, and who is at least making a B-grade effort, Drew will award the dignity of Santa status. But don’t come at him as a Chick Fil-A cow dressed up as Santa (Ridgmar Mall!) and claim to have his best interests at heart. “Cow goes home?” whimpered Drew, his fingers crossed, hoping for the best.
Then there was the Grinch. The Grinch that stole Santa. This should have been a merry encounter because we all know the Grinch’s heart ends up two sizes too big for the strange measuring contraption there at the end of the movie, and how he suddenly grows gorgeous long eyelashes that make you just want to kiss him. You’d think the makers of the costume would use THAT face, that sweet penitent face for the costume of the Santa Grinch. But no. They put the most evil grimace possible. And where was Drew? Running, no, streaking away from us in tears like it was Satan making swords out of long red balloons. Ho ho ho-my-good-Lord...
After the horse and carriage episode, it was dinnertime. There are only a select few places in Downtown Fort Worth capable of accommodating us, and one of them is Jake’s. Great burger joint. Used to be a Chili’s back in the 90s golden age of Chili’s, but now all that’s left is the wood paneling and the ghost of many a baby back rib. The Ghost of Ribs Past I guess you could say. Jake’s was packed that night, and if you were walking down the sidewalk and peered into the bar, you would not see cowgirls drinking Michelob Ultra or bachelors reclining with their 18 oz mugs. You would see a couple with their 3-year-old and baby trying to look normal in a bar. Like we make this a regular family night, the bar at Jake’s.
Things were going fine until a crowd of people came in, no, a multitude, all dressed like, you guessed it, Santa Claus. But these people were definitely not making a B-grade effort. And where were they headed? To the bar of course. Here’s a lady with a sexy Santa strapless top and furry hat, here’s a dude who bought his polyester tie-in-the-back suit from Wal-Mart, here’s a guy who looks like it just might have hurt him a little bit to put on a Santa hat what with his $500 jeans. It was a farce of Santa. No one was committing to the role. Drew sensed the wrongness of it all, the almost disrespect, I think, and stared at the group with ever widening eyes.
We couldn’t tell if he was scared or merely curious. But then we saw the worst exhibit of an Independently Famous Character Dressed Up as a Version of Santa. In walks Frosty the Snowman dressed as Santa. You may think this isn’t too far fetched, certainly not worse than the Chick Fil-A Cow, but for Drew I believe the whole concept was a little too incestuous. Plus the man had painted his face white and affixed a long orange carrot-esque appendage to his face and donned a Santa hat, which gave the effect of an 18th century mime with a witch’s nose at Christmastime. He WAS scary. He was worse than half the masks that showed up to our house trick-or-treating.
Drew began to cry. “Drew, eat your grilled cheese,” we coaxed him.
“Sah-Cause not hurt you,” said Drew, stating this more as a question to be confirmed and notarized. “Sah-Cause not hurt you.”
“No, no, Santa Claus won’t hurt you,” we said.
“Sah-Cause OK,” he said.
“Yes, Santa Clause is OK,” we said. “Eat your grilled cheese.”
Some parents have a hard time figuring out when to tell their kids Santa isn’t real. We, on the other hand, need to convince Drew Santa will not hack him to death in the night. I don’t think there are many parent resources devoted to this issue. Probably not too many Sesame Street segments depicting the nonviolence of Kris Kringle. I could be wrong.
At least for now, Regular Santa is OK. Plain old vanilla Norman Rockwell Coca Cola Santa Claus passes the litmus test of safety, meets the requirements of predictability, keeps the confusion out of Christmas.
And for now, that’s enough for me. Merry Christmas everybody. And God bless us, every one.