From Sad Santa to Bad Santa
Its Christmas Eve, I am at work, and walked down to get a cup of coffee. As I descended the stairs, I spotted possibly the saddest Santa I ever saw. Tucked away in the back of the cafeteria, he sat in a chair (no throne, no high-backed cushion seat worthy of his position), a black, plastic chair taken from the Formica topped table just to his left. His arms fell outside the arm rests, his chin rested on his chest, and his two legs pegged out in front of him, like a prize-fighter, sitting and exhausted between rounds.
Not sure why he was exhausted, however, since there wasn’t a child in sight.
How times have changed.
When I first started working here, and before I had kids, Christmas went something like this. Came into the office with a bottle of wine for my boss, walked around and said hello and Merry Christmas to the large group of co-workers, and their spouses and children. In the cafeteria, a jolly Santa sat on his large, red throne, surrounded by children who waited to hear their name called. One by one, Santa reached into the over-stuffed bag at his side, pulled out a gift (provided by their parent beforehand), then handed it to the delighted child.
There was free food, and a choir sang softly in the background.
I was in the bar by ten (a.m.)
Amazed me how crowded the bar was, considering it was Christmas Eve and we all, supposedly, had families. Again, this was before kids. One year a friend wrangled his four kids through the crowded bar, set them at a corner table, provided sodas, then grabbed a drink for himself. It was the saddest thing I ever saw.
One year, I got into the office by eight-thirty and my boss was already gone. Those were the days.
Being a big man, it was inevitable I would be asked to be Santa. I would have turned it down if my co-worker, Mary, had volunteered to be the elf. She looked adorable in the green and red outfit, and I had the biggest crush on her so, ‘Ho-Ho-Ho’.
At that point, I had a beard. It was far from white, more of an autumn mixture of red, brown, and blond. Handed the suit, beard, and hat, I made my transformation. Since this was before I had my own children, wasn’t that comfortable around other people’s kids. I stood in a conference room (not even a plastic chair) I handed out gifts to each child that came up to me. These weren’t thoughtful parent provided gifts, just some plastic guns with a round, clown-nose like red ball with a string that attached it to the nozzle of the gun, so the shooter never loses the one bullet provided.
In every crowd, there is always that one kid. A little too old to be there and wants to prove his coolness by not believing in Santa.
“You’re not, Santa”
“I can see your beard under the fake one.”
Get away from me kid, you’re bothering me.
After I handed him the toy gun, he stood next to me, narrating to each child that I was not really Santa. Soon, the room was empty, just me and this annoying child.
I snatched the plastic toy from his hand, snapped the string that held the foam bullet to the gun, and threw the pieces back at him. The shear look of shock on his face – Christmas memories.
To this day, I still don’t feel bad about it.
Once I had my own kids to bring into the office, the Christmas Eve bar visits stopped (thanks, kids). Couldn’t see myself navigating the crowd with small children in tow.
Although, now they are all old enough to drink, so...