“Holy cow. I guess you’re right.” I said to my grandson. He had a very stern look on his face, and bundled up in a heavy parka, a scarf wrapped thrice around, and a ski cap with a 2 inch puffball atop it, was pointing at the roof of the house. You could see a paint outline of difference in shingle color, where new shingles had been installed where the chimney used to be. During our remodel, I had a huge corner fireplace ripped out, along with the chimney it fed. That left a rather gaping hole in the roof, which was rebuilt and newly shingled so as to get rid of the gaping hole.
“Wew?” he demanded of me. It was the little guy’s way of saying ‘well?’
“You’re right. We don’t have a Chimney anymore.”
“How is Santa go down your chimmey?”
“Well, my grandson, it’s like this. Santa over paid me last year and so I’m not getting anything this year. You know, gotta even those books out and everything, right?” My grandson looked at me, eyes registering zero comprehension. “Santa Claus is using UPS for old people this year.”
“Oh.” he said. “So wew you get presents?”
“Of course.” I told him confidently. This made him smile –or it gave him gas, it was hard to read his expression with his face mostly covered with scarf. We went back into the house and he announced that his grandparents were getting their toys from UPS this year, and could he get his from UPS as well? I had to assume that this might be a clever means for the boy to achieve the youngsters annual challenge to catch Santa as he spread out the goods under the Christmas Tree. It would be much simpler to catch Santa if he was dressed in brown, knocked on the door, and demanded a signature. But I discarded the suspicion, after all the boy is only three, and kids inventiveness doesn’t develop until age six when they realize there’s no proof there wasn’t a wolf that came in and ate the cookies. The concept of reasonable doubt emerges. My mystery was solved when the boy announced that he wanted to get his gifts from Santa the same way grandpa did because he wanted to be just like grandpa. It was heart breaking to have to explain that the AARP doesn’t permit that transmission of methodologies for the aged to young people. It’s called AARP for a reason by God. That produced the same confused look I saw outside. “It’s against the law. The police won’t let anyone send Santa’s present to children under the age of 45.”
The boy and his sister, who was a year older, siddled her way into the conversation –by virtue of being the one my grandson announced to that he wanted to do the whole UPS thing. “If the police say no, then the answer is no!” she said so cutely. She reminded me of Shirley Temple in Bright Eyes, oozing her four year oldness in her cute tone and cheerful delivery. “Poopie butts!” she chortled a moment later, shattering the whole Bright Eyes association. I wondered where that particular epithet came from, and strongly suspected my son-in-law. He’s not a bad guy, which is why I suspected him. But, he wasn’t there to defend himself and so I let it go.
As if by magic, the doorbell chose that precise moment to ring, and my grandson, quite the cheetah, shot over and opened the front door. A man from UPS stood there holding a box. “Package for Kirkpatrick?” he said, looking for who might be Kirkpatrick, or better yet, was there anyone there who could sign for the box.
“You’re from the North Pole!” accused my grandson openly. He pointed his finger at the UPS man’s face.
“No, I live here in town.” he replied –a little friendly conversation as I retrieved the box and signed his electronic record keeping widget.
“Santa had you bring that here, didn’t he?” queried the boy.
The UPS guy looked at the return label. “Via Amazon, yeah. Right from the North Pole from Santa himself.” He sounded like a bored tour guide in New York Harbor, explaining to the passengers that the blueish green shit on each side of the tour boat was water. It ws enough though, to send my grandchildren into paroyxisms of laughter and glee at the very idea of Santa looking like a Tootsie Roll.
But it answered the question that plagued a concerned grandson about how Santa could get Grandpa his presents Christmas morning. I was proud of my little man, having that kind of concern at a time when most kids are focused on what they’re getting, rather than someone cared about who might get nothing. I’m so proud of you!” I bubbled at him. “You really know what Christmas is all about.”
“Yeah,” he said. “Presents.”
“And candy” injected his sister. They both beamed at me, angelic.
“And do you think that you’re on Santa’s Good Boys and Good Girls lists?” I asked, teasing them.
“What?” said my grandson.
“Huh?” posited my granddaughter.
“You know,” I coached. “Santa’s making a list and checking it twice; he’ll find out who naughty or nice…”
“A list of what?” asked my grandson.
“What he’s getting everybody.” said my granddaughter.
“No, no.” I said. “That’s not right. Santa sees you all of the time. He knows if you’re naughty or nice. You know, good or bad. If you’re good, you get a gift. If you’re bad, you get a lump of coal.”
“Nuh-uh.” My granddaughter was sounding a bit snotty. “Santa delivers to everybody and it’s Jesus that looks at everything we’re doing and decides if were good or bad.”
“What happens if you get on Jesus’ bad list?”
“You go to hell and burn for ever and ever and ever..” It was incongruous that she was back to Shirley Temple, big smile on the for ever and ever part. Plus, it was obvious that the children were attending the family’s church preschool and daycare.
“Well,” I said, pensively, “I think I’d rather be on Santa’s bad list than Jesus’s list.”
Both kids thought about what I just said. My granddaughter, asserting her year of tenure on life took the lead. “If being bad on Santa’s list means no presents, then that is better than going to hell. Even if it was a day trip.”
I nodded, smiling widely. A little later their mom stopped by to pick them up following her clandestine Christmas shopping trip. “Pay no attention to those boxes covered with blankets. That’s stuff from work. Don’t touch it.” She told the kids. And they clamored into the back seat and fastened themselves in their seats; such smart kids, already able to don a seat belt. The ignored the pile and looked forward. As their mom pulled away from the curb I heard my grandson.
“UPS is doing Grampa Bob’s Christmas for Santa this year, and he’s better than Jesus.”
The taillights of the SUV turned red from brake lights and then white backup lights lit up as she put the car in reverse. But I had already ducked into the house and locked the door.