HUMOR: It’s the Thought

The convoluted negotiations, the objections and evasions, the thrusts and parries which led Chet to wear a Santa suit at the Hemstock IBA Global holiday party are too involved to relate herein. Suffice to say he found himself that afternoon wearing a pot belly girdle and frayed, drooping beard. He fooled none of the squirming children thrust into his lap. With his narrow face and bloodshot eyes Chet looked not so much like Santa Claus as a debauched Uncle Sam.

He coughed. The suit had been poorly cleaned, and the synthetic wool made him sneeze.

“Santa!” a little girl admonished. “You’re supposed to cover your mouth.”

“Do you always cover your mouth? Don’t lie to Santa Claus.”

The girl frowned. “No.”

“Then tell me what you want for Christmas, and keep your opinions to yourself.” Chet, in his discomfort, found himself not above using his temporary rank to control these little hooligans.

She hopped off his lap. An elf gave her a candy cane and she trotted away. The elf wore a green suit. “Can Santa get a martini?”

“Of course, Chet,” Beatrice Lowenberger said. She was the VP of accounting and wore a green suit cut low on top and high across the bottom. Now that’s a costume, thought Chet.

She handed him the drink, which he sipped through his beard. “Much better,” he said.

The afternoon progressed much the same way, with a remarkably consistent list of requests: Stuffed animals, action figures, and a variety of swords, masks, and plastic war equipment that would intimidate Genghis Khan.

Another girl climbed onto his lap. “Hi, Uncle Chet.”

It was Madison, his niece. “Careful,” Santa said. “Remember, I’m Santa Claus.”

“Oh,” Madison said.

“But if you tell me what you want, I’m sure Mommy will somehow find out. And I’m betting you will have a better than even chance of finding it under the Christmas tree on Christmas morning.” Chet didn’t think he was upending any core beliefs. He was fairly certain these children, the offspring of wealth and power, knew how the wheels of progress were greased.

Chet spotted his sister in the crowd, and winked. “So what will it be, Maddie? A Sparkle Pony? A new dollie?”

“A Cartier Del Libre diamond and white gold broach.”

Chet almost choked on his martini. “What?”

“And a Gucci double-clasp purse. And a Melvin Steeg bracelet and a Tiffany Forever ring.”

“Is that all, young lady?” asked Santa.

“Oh, and a two-door Mercedes X128 convertible.” Madison jumped from his lap, grabbed a candy cane from Beatrice Lowenberger, and ran to her mother.

A gong announced dinner was served.

Chet approached his sister in the buffet line. “About those gifts…”

“Did Madison mention the Mercedes should be white?”

“She might have. But why in the world would an eight-year old want a Mercedes Benz?”

“Don’t be silly, Chet. She doesn’t want any of those things. It’s what I want.”

“But what about Madison?”

“She already has two of everything. Now be a sweet and tell Carl. And remember, a white one.”

“Why don’t you tell him yourself?” Chet asked.

She gave him a quick peck on the cheek. “This is Christmas time. It’s better coming from Santa, don’t you think?”

Richard Donnelly

Richard Donnelly lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Classic flyover land. Which makes us feel just a little… superior. Mr. Donnelly’s first book is ‘The Melancholy MBA,’ published by Brick Road Poetry Press in Columbus, Georgia.