“Mr. Marley has been dead these seven years,” Scrooge replied, “in fact, he died seven years ago this very day.” Ebeneezer Scrooge said those words on Christmas Eve to two gentlemen who had come to his office looking for a donation, and asked if he was Scrooge or Marley. I’m referencing it because something happened to me on Christmas Eve many years ago. The story is a true rib-tickler, so please, grab a glass of Christmas cheer and read on…
I’m sure posting this will secure my application to the Scrooge Fan Club and have me successfully booted from the Santa Claus Seekers Club. I’m also sure that my name is being stricken from the Nice List and has been forever engraved on the Naughty List. Yeah, sure, it’s good to be on the Nice list, but the folks on the Naughty list do have more fun heckling the folks of the Nice list.
I spent the first few years of my life patiently waiting for Santa Claus at Christmas hoping that by some magical act, if I was good for a whole three hundred and sixty-five days (which was like, literally impossible for me), that I would get every toy and piece of loot I asked for. It happened on this very Christmas Eve night thirty-six years ago when I was eleven years old that Santa got busted. The gig was up. The fairy tale was a fairy tale no more. Reality set in, and it was harsh to a kid who wore those ugly Christmas sweaters thinking it would score me a few extra brownie points with the fat bearded guy in the red suit. It’s funny, everything happened to Scrooge in one night, and everything happened to me in one night. It all began with me taking my stocking to the fireplace to fulfill the line “hung their stockings by the chimney with care”; thing is, we had just moved into a new house and there was no fireplace, or chimney to hang my stocking with care! I remember the conversation like it took place yesterday, with me running up to my dad screaming, “Dad! Dad! Where’s the chimney? How the heck am I gonna hang my stocking up? OH MY GOSH!!!! What if Santa comes down the chimney and falls straight into the furnace and burns up into a pile of festive ashes because we have no fireplace opening?!” This was the year my dad was waiting for, because he just decided to play it cool and calm and replied, “Son, Santa won’t be coming down the chimney this year. He’s just going to knock and come through the front door like a normal person.” Shock and pure panic came over me as I looked around and said, “Where the heck is he going to park the sleigh and the reindeer then?” My dad, loving every second of it by this point got all calm again and said, “Well, we just shoveled the driveway so he’ll have to park out in the street because I’ll punch him right in the head if he gets snow and reindeer hoof markings on my freshly shoveled driveway.” A few minutes later, my dad caught me in the basement looking at the flames burning in the furnace. “How is he gonna get past those flames to bring me my toys?” I whimpered feeling every bit of my hopes slipping away. It was time, so my dad then sat me on his knee and told me the whole story. He even showed me how his writing, and the writing that Santa left on my milk and cookie letters looked alarmingly the same. Santa was officially busted. The story was a fake, and my favorite Christmas cartoon forever changed from Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, to, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. “I just don’t know how I’m gonna get through Christmas now.” I said sulkingly. It was at this point that my dad introduced me to what would become my drink of choice, Crown Royal. He took his ol’ bottle, poured a smidgen shot, and let me have it. As I winced from the burn, he said, “Crown Royal is my drink of choice; and that, my dear son, is how I get through Christmas.”
Growing up, Christmas Eve night was spent at my grandparents house. My dear grandmother spared no shots and put out the most incredible meal ever! We would have dinner, then my grandfather would mystically “disappear” into his workshop and suddenly, we’d hear a bell ring signaling that ol’ Kris Kringle had come and decorated the tree and left some loot. Now usually when we arrived, the partition door from the kitchen to the living room was already drawn so we couldn’t see the living room. Well, that year, with the Christmas world tumbling down faster than an avalanche on a mountainside, that story changed as well. We came in the house, and the partition had not been drawn, so I got a straight on view of the tree. It was already decorated and everything. “Hey Mom!” I bellowed pointing to the living room, “I thought Kris Kringle was supposed to decorate the tree? What’s going on??!!” Now it was my mom’s turn; and she was not going to let this one pass by. “Oh Mike!” she said trying desperately hard not to laugh, “You didn’t honestly believe all that stuff did you?” I looked back and forth for a minute trying to seem like the soon-to-be-well-informed teenager, then stuttered out, “Well…no…no…of course not!” Give her a ton of credit, she saw my despair, bolted over to me and gave me a hug and a sip from her wine glass. “You’ve become a grown up today.” she said with a smile. I’ll give both my mom and dad credit, it took the edge off of every Christmas from then on.
Although Santa and his nonsense got busted that year, a few great things did happen. Crown Royal became my drink of choice as well as my dad’s; my sister told me that if I ever wore another ugly Christmas sweater again that she was going to personally kick me out of a plane down into the middle of the North Pole and leave me there for my own good; and my mom showed me that if you leave unwanted Christmas cookies outside overnight in the freezing Canadian cold, that they will freeze solid and can be used for backup hockey pucks the whole year through!