The Year Of Lowered Expectations
(A shopping center manager advises Santa about his upcoming appearance and how to adjust to the new "reality".)
There's no red carpet treatment this year, Santa. No helicopter arrival. No band. No parade. No fanfare. No grand entrance. It's the year of lowered expectations. You'll simply arrive in a rusty Olds 98 pushed by volunteers. You'll come through the back way and make a brief statement. You'll then sit down with the kids, read a story, take a few pictures, and walk back to the rusty Olds and be pushed away. You are not to take toy requests. Tamp down the enthusiasm Santa. Santa simply can't promise more than he can deliver. And with this economy, what you can deliver will be a lot less than last year. And let's face it; what you delivered last year wasn't much. You can't have folks losing total faith in you. You gotta set the bar real low. People are out of work, people are going hungry, people are having their homes foreclosed on, people are in dire straights. So instead of a hearty (loudly) HO HO
HO, MERRY CHRISTMAS, well tone down the Ho Ho Ho's. It should be more like a (mildly) ho ho hum. Just call it part of Santa's austerity program – the new normal. Maybe there's an upside to all of this. Maybe just maybe folks will realize they didn't need all the latest gadgets and toys after all…that all this "stuff" just got in the way. And when the power goes off and the babies are crying and the car won't start…it's not a fat man in a red suit that's gonna come to the rescue. Oh no, he's gonna crawl down that chimney, get his fat ass stuck and need help just like the rest of us. Nope, it's just family, neighbors, our community…that's who's gonna help. Merry Christmas Santa. Ho ho hum.
Bob From Accounting
(An office accountant tries to convince his boss to donate to his Christmas charity.)
Yes sir. Thanks for the meeting. Most of the time you know me as Bob from accounting, but this time of year I transform into old St. Nick. I show up at the office Christmas party, I pass out gifts, I visit the local orphanage. And of course Santa wouldn't be Santa without keeping a list of who's been naughty or nice. It's amazing what you hear around the water cooler…the juicy gossip…the salacious rumors. It's also amazing the indiscretions you witness in the janitor closet. Of course your name comes up a lot in the office chatter. It also comes up a lot in the janitor's closet. Santa doesn't jump to any conclusions though. He's fair. He does his own investigations. And what I've found out sir is that you have been a very bad boy this past year. But the good news is that Santa forgives and forgets…for a price. And…well…Santa needs a new workshop and some shop tools to keep
his elves busy. I estimate all of this will cost approximately ten grand. Oops…Mrs. Claus might get a little jealous. Better make that 15 grand. Your predecessor was a very naughty boy as well. He decided not to participate in Santa's charity. Of course he no longer works for the company. He works in the laundry room at the state prison. You see, Santa is one hell of an accountant.
(A mall Santa discusses the dilemma presented to him by a child with a special request.)
I have to admit most of my days are filled with the most outrageous toy requests by spoiled rich kids. Little Tommy and Sallie importune me to provide the latest, the greatest, the super duperest gifts. These kids exude a sense of entitlement. But every now and then a special child with a special request changes everything you've ever thought about Christmas, about Santa Claus, and about the poor innocent souls who inhabit this earth. There was one such child yesterday. She sits down, a dark haired girl of about 8 years old, not as wealthy and not as well dressed as the other kids. When I ask her what she wants for Christmas, she tells me that she only wants one thing. And what would that be I ask, relieved that this will be short and sweet. She then tells me all she wants is for her mom to be ok on Christmas day. And then from talking with her, I realize her mom has stage-four cancer. Her situation is dire. The chances are great
that she won't be alive on Christmas day. My heart breaks. I'm not ready for this. Dealing with the snotty nosed rich kids was a lot easier. I could just nod and smile. And then I find out that the little girl's name is Virginia. That knowledge made my job a lot harder. I feel so worthless. I'm not a miracle worker. I'm not St. Jude. I'm St, Nick. But I'm not St. Nick. Even the beard is fake. I want to fade back into the woodwork. I just wanna go home, feed my dog and watch a mindless comedy. I wanna be someplace else…anywhere but here at this place, at this time. What to do? Do I tell her everything's gonna be fine and then her mom dies? Her faith in a benevolent Santa dies. Her faith in benevolence itself dies. Or do I tell her the truth? No Virginia, there is no Santa Claus. Sorry, my condolences. Here's a candy cane. It took everything I had to look her in the eye, smile without breaking down and tell her…I'll
see what I can do. And then you hope…and say a prayer to St. Jude.
A Not So Jolly Santa
(One of Santa's helpers stalls for time awaiting Santa's entrance.)
Hey kids, Santa's running a little late today. You might say he's been under the weather. He's had a...uh...a stomach virus. Yea that's it. Uh...well...no, that's not exactly true kids. I can't lie to you. Santa wants us to be truthful right? His stomach does hurt along with his head but it's because of something we adults call a hangover. Let your parents explain that to you. Because Santa hasn't been feeling good, please keep your requests brief. Very brief. Single requests only. Grab your candy cane, exit right and be on your way...to a very merry Christmas that is. You know Santa will try to do his best, but sometimes he's very forgetful. Sometimes he just forgets to show up at the mall when he's supposed to. But like I said, he'll be out in a few. Now don't ask him about Mrs. Claus kids. It will get him very mad. It seems that Mrs. Claus had a very amorous encounter with one
of Santa's elves. He was a very bad elf. He no longer works at Saddle Creek Mall. He's officially listed by the police department as "missing". He's going to go where all bad elves go...HELL! Santa just might have to trade Mrs. Claus in for a younger more beautiful model. But you didn't hear it from me kids. Hey, while we're waiting you kids can have your picture taken with Santa's stand-in Clyde. Come on up here Clyde. Just pretend Clyde is Santa kids for photographic purposes only. I know he doesn't look like Santa. Just use your imagination. And please visit Clyde at the Willow Brook retirement home. He will absolutely love the company. Clyde, please stop drooling. And kids don't even think about going to the West Bend Mall. That Santa over there is just a big fat fake. He's a Santa wannabe. He ought to be locked up for impersonating the real santa. Report him to the police kids. Ok kids it looks
like Santa's stumbling in now. Don't be disturbed by Santa's black eye. It seems Santa was doing more than kissing mommy around the Christmas tree. Ha, ha (slaps cheek) Oh did I say that...I'm sorry kids, just a little adult Santa humor. Well, I'm outta here. Have a very merry Christmas!
There he is. I can see it just as clear now as when it happened 35 years ago. It was Christmas Eve. He was sitting at the kitchen table ensconced in a plethora of liquor bottles, with a half eaten sugar cookie dangling from one side of his tortured mouth and a nasty colored drool being emitted from the other side. That fat bastard, No not Santa, but Dad spoiling my Christmas memories in his moth eaten Santa suit. The gig was up. The deeply held secret was laid bare in the haze of an alcoholic meltdown. It wasn’t like I didn’t have my doubts. The previous year, Santa had the smell of whiskey on his breath as he staggered and toppled over the Christmas tree. But he made a quick recovery exiting the house before suspicions arose. I may have been let down by Dad's antics, but I was determined he wasn't going to spoil Christmas for my little brother and sister. I did some quick thinking. Mom and my siblings were on a
last minute shopping trip and would be back shortly. I would need assistance from our next door neighbor Mr. Wagoner who was in the middle of watching It's A Wonderful Life. When a bell rings, an angel might get its wings, but when Mr. Wagoner' s door bell rang, it usually meant Dad was on a bender. So I cleaned up all the mess, liquor bottles, and blood...not sure how that got there. With Mr. Wagoner' s help, I dragged Dad up the stairs, making sure he hit each of them. I kept thinking wow that's gonna hurt in the morning. When he hit the last step, I knew that was really gonna hurt. We got Dad into bed. Mr. Wagoner changed into the Santa Suit. Luckily it fit! We were back down the stairs when mom, brother and sister came back. Mr. Wagoner did his best Santa impression and everything went off without a hitch. However I did owe Mom one he'll of an explanation. I had to repeat this same routine for the next four years. This would come in handy
later in life when I set up shop cleaning up damaging situations for the rich and famous. I was very efficient.
All from Les Marcott's Character Flaws, a collection of monologues, short plays and short stories published for Scene4 Books by Aviarpress.