There are some things that most of us are absolutely certain are true – 1) the Bengals will not make the playoffs in back to back seasons, 2) liberals have a fundamental inability to understand the American definition of personal responsibility and 3) the first Die Hard is the best Die Hard.
When I was a kid I believed the same was true – I was absolutely certain that the Duke boys would eventually outwit Roscoe and Enos, that if I tried hard enough I could become Lynn Swann and that there was, in fact, a Santa Claus. I believed despite my questions about why he’d be wearing a big heavy red coat when he was in places like Hawaii or Viet Nam and that visiting every single house in one night just wasn’t feasible with union air traffic controllers.
Anyway, Mom and I almost blew it Wednesday afternoon. We had to run out and grab a couple last minute gifts for the girls. Why? Because we evidently left the game of Life and two iTunes gift cards at Target a couple weeks ago when were finishing up our shopping for the girls a full two weeks before Christmas. We were pretty damn impressed with ourselves until Mom inventoried the whole list and couldn’t find Life or the gift cards.
So after some covert searching, Mom called Target. And for the record they were awesome about it. They cancelled the old gift cards and gave us two new ones. Then they gave us our money back on Life because it was out of stock. So we headed over to WalMart…and oh yeah, we had the girls with us…
A confident and suspicious Riley, however, isn’t playing along…
“Dad, you guys aren’t real good at keeping a secret about what you’re doing but you are pretty good at not telling us what you’re buying.”
“Yeah, hey blabber mouth girl, zip it.”
She’ll never admit it or say it out loud but Riley has evidently figured out the whole Santa Claus story.
“Hey, you guys come with me and we’ll go find some snacks and stuff for Christmas Eve and Christmas while Mom grabs a couple things.”
“I want to go with Mom,” says a whiny Kinsey.
“Sorry, no can do, I can’t go for that. How about we go pick out some potato chips instead?”
Still can distract the girls with potato chips. I know at some point it won’t work but by then they’ll be old enough to leave home by themselves for extended periods and we’ll be worried about other things than them finding out about Santa.
So we’re over getting barbecue chips, not to mention eggs, cheese and ham for Christmas morning omelets when they start getting antsy. I check my watch and it’s been about 30 minutes. Hmm…that has to be enough time for Mom to find the game of Life. So we buy our stuff and start walking back to where we came in…past the numerous check out lanes. Immediately it dawns on me that I better have my scanners on full power in case Mom is in line at one of the check out counters…and there she is…with the game of Life sitting right there…in full view…
Luckily I was holding both Bailey’s and Kinsey’s hands and I made a full speed cut to my left that likely left many WalMart patrons thinking of a late 70’s Tony Dorsett. Risking a full dislocation of both girls’ shoulders, I jumped into the Vision Center.
“Dad, were we supposed to see the game of Li…”
“La, La, La, La, La, La, nothing to see here, La, La, La, be quiet Riley!”
“Kinsey did you see Mommy?”
“No. Why?” asks Kinsey rubbing her shoulder.
“No reason, close your eyes!”
“Bailey did you see Mommy?”
“Yes, she’s right there.”
“Did you see what she was buying?”
“Crap. You weren’t supposed to see that. Riley saw it too. Well, I guess that’ll be a present Kinsey has to open on Christmas Eve.”
Kinsey looks at me with raised brow, “See what?”
One out of three isn’t bad. In baseball, I be a batting champion. Anyway, Riley may be figuring things out but Bails is only in 1st grade and totally, completely believes in the jolly old fat man with the snowy white beard. Chocolate milk and cookes by the fireplace, looking for sleigh tracks in the snow, wet boot prints leading to the Christmas tree…all of it.
And she’s in absolute tears. I immediately assume it’s because she saw one of her presents before Christmas and thinks she’s in trouble or that Santa will be mad. Great, what are chances I walk by the exact check out line that Mom is checking out of at the exact damn moment she has Life sitting right there out in the open? Evidently the same chances the Ravens will beat the Browns preventing the Steelers from clinching a first round playoff bye.
Dammit! We killed Santa for a 1st grader! How the hell do we fix this?
Well turns out she wasn’t crying because she thought Santa was mad or that the whole Santa jig was up. It was because she didn’t think it was fair that Kinsey would get to open the game of Life on Christmas Eve. And when you’re the third kid, fairness is a big freaking deal.
So, at least for another year, Santa lives! But I am in process of devising an actual exit strategy for any type of similar situation next year…