Last weekend, MP, Grammy and I went downtown to participate in the annual Christmas Stroll, a tradition that’s been around for decades. At 4:30 Santa emerges from one of the town’s historic brick buildings, and, followed by throngs of children, makes his way two blocks to the end of Main Street. Once there, he hops on the back of a flatbed and, leading a chorus of Christmas carols, is driven eight blocks or so, ceremoniously lighting ancient holiday lights strung across each intersection.
Grammy excitedly led the push to get us close to Old St. Nick, hoisting MP on her shoulders and racing ahead. I kind of hoped we didn’t get too close.
This year’s Santa was frightening. In hindsight, I’m actually a little cheesed with the Downtown Association’s choice. Where was the full white fake beard? The big fat belly that shook like a bowlful of jelly? Until I learned who he REALLY was — turns out, it was Santa DJ, who I’ve met before — I would’ve sworn Santa was an underweight homeless dude who hadn’t bathed in weeks. The gray of his thin, scruffy beard looked downright dirty. Like even the fleas were jumping ship.
I couldn’t read MP’s reaction. She SEEMED excited. But skeptical. We headed to one of the Stroll activities — the very animated telling of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. I hoped she’d forget about Santa Bum.
It wasn’t until we got home she spoke up.
MP: Santa looked DIFFERENT this year.
ME: How did he look different?
MP: His beard …
ME: Well, he still has awhile before Christmas. I bet it starts getting really white and fluffy in the next few days.
GRAMMY: Maybe Mrs. Claus gave him a haircut and cut it too short …
ME: Yeah. He still needs to fatten up too. By Christmas, he’ll be nice and round.
Excellent. THIS is why I don’t take her to the mall to sit on Santa’s knee. Okay, I don’t take her to the mall to sit on Santa’s knee mostly because he skeeves me out, BUT, it goes without saying — fake Santa’s are never as good as the ones that live in the imagination. Never as good as Norman Rockwell’s version. Or the Mickey Rooney clamation classic.
I’m thinkin’ we’ll skip Santa Bum next year.