Santa, Baby (#840)
It all started last Christmas when my niece Erin and her fiance Josh threw their lots in with a couple of their cousins to purchase my mom a life-sized singing and dancing Santa Claus.
Now, Mom lived in a small one-bedroom place, where the only spot she could find for her table-top tree was on top of a kitchen counter. But did that stop her from embracing a jolly new fellow with a tummy like a bowlful of Jello?
Of course not! She absolutely loved the old coot.
At the end of the season, her disassembled decorations were boxed and crammed into her one walk-in closet—actually her only closet. She had to get rid of two extra bedspreads and a 30-gallon Rubbermaid container of photos to make room.
But then last March, she moved into a different apartment in the same complex, a unit in which the closet was clearly not meant to accomodate a tree, must less a Claus.
So I loaded her Christmas stuff into my station wagon (you read that right; we’re the last SUV-hold-outs in the lower 48) and added her stash to my own enormous basement holiday storehouse.
At the time, I didn’t imagine she’d live to see another Christmas, the diagnostic news was so grim.
I was pretty sure back then that I’d seen Santa to his final resting place, so much so that the box containing his remains was laid out horizontally on the cold steel shelf. Rest in peace, good man…
Since March, Mom’s spent three months in a nursing home, and now has switched apartments yet again—back into assisted living.
Not long after settling into her new digs, she began asking about Mr. Claus.
“You have him at your house, right? ‘Cause I’m going to want him here soon.”
Then the emails started in earnest. My brother John, whose children have put the ornaments on Mom’s tree the past few years, wanted to verify that I would be delivering the goods to Mom’s apartment.
“I’ll have them there on Saturday morning,” I responded, as efficient as all get-out. “You can begin the festivities as early as Saturday afternoon.”
Doug and I loaded up the wagon and hauled the tree, wreath, decorations, and Santa into Mom’s place, right on schedule.
We pulled Santa out of the box by his beard and were shocked to find that since last Christmas, he’d become a double amputee.
“Where’s his rear end and legs?” Mom asked, as if Doug and I hadn’t noticed the poor gent’s boggling disabilities.
“Don’t worry,” Doug said in that ever-optimistic way of his. “His tush is here somewhere. We’ll just unpack the rest of these boxes…”
Mom sat and watched, her eyes getting bigger and sadder with each passing moment. When the final box was emptied, she couldn’t take it any more.
“Santa can’t very well dance without his hips, now can he?” she said, stark disappointment coloring her features.
I got the feeling she was calling into question not only my organizational and administrative skills, but perhaps my caregiving sensibilities, as well.
“Look, Mom, we’ll find his rear end, OK?”
I sounded more confident than I felt, because I knew Doug had hauled everything of Mom’s our basement had to offer. I also knew we’d just come from a trip to Goodwill, where we’d dropped off umpteen boxes of who-knows-what, any one of which might have accidentally contained the Claus’s patoot.
Instead of visions of Santa Claus dancing, I had visions of Santa Claus qualifying for a very special-needs wheelchair. With a little luck, on Medicare’s dime.
Doug and I left my freaked-out mother (who wouldn’t be a little dismayed by the sight of half a life-sized man propped up by the sliding glass door?) and hustled home to scour the basement and the attic, too.
Nothing. More emails, to all the sibs this time.
“Buttless Santa Alert!”
I begged them to check their own basements and attics, in case I was wrong about me being the one who took all Mom’s Christmas stuff. One by one, the dismal news came back to me.
“No Santa butts here. Or Santa legs, either. Sorry. Better luck next year. Ha-ha-ha-ha.”
I resigned myself to shelling out fifty bucks to get my mother another life-sized singing and dancing Santa. I figured the double amputee could be re-interred in the box from whence he came, and reshelved horizontally in the depths of the basement, along with my reputation as a caring, loving daughter.
And then, one final email—one message of redemption to save me from myself during this emotion-charged Christmas season—arrived from my sister Liz.
“This came to me like a flash in the middle of the night,” she wrote. “I remembered something Erin told me when she purchased the thing. He collapses on himself! If you twist his head, his legs will pop out.”
We all have so much to be thankful for this Christmas, don’t we?
I’ve got to say, though, that in all my years on earth, this is the first time I’ve given thanks for Santa’s rear end.
Posted by Katy on 12/08/05
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