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Frizzi: A Santa Story (or, Has the statute of limitations expired yet?)

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For my money, going on Facebook is like reading a small town newspaper. It keeps you up-to-date on how everybody is doing, who’s kid has graduated or got married, who has a new grandbaby, or other such goings on.

One such Facebook friend is a guy I used to work with at a K-Mart in Terre Haute, Indiana. I was in college at the time. In fact, because the economy was awful by the time I graduated from Indiana State, I worked there a few years after that. It was a full-time gig and the benefits back then were a lot better than major corporations offer now.

Anyway, this guy I worked with, I’ll call him Rick, is now a semi-truck driver. And during the holidays, he becomes Santa Claus. He works at one of the malls, dresses like the iconic jolly old elf and allows excited youngsters to sit on his lap and tell him what they want for Xmas. As such, he posts pictures on Facebook.

I look at them and laugh. Rick does make a pretty good Santa. I wander if he remembers the time he asked me to come over to his house to play Santa for his little girl many years ago.

This had to be somewhere around 1984 or 85. Another friend of mine, a single mom, asked me to come to her house and play Santa for her little girl. She would provide the suit. I was a single guy and I liked her, so I said “Yes”.

After all, Ol’ Santa liked it when big girls sat on his lap.

However, word got around and pretty soon other mommies came up and asked me to play Santa for their little kids. How can you say no? Especially to a gaggle of mommies!

Rick caught wind of this stunt, too, and asked if I would stop by his house. What’s another house on Santa’s route? I recruited our friend, Todd to drive me. Todd brought along his friend, also named Todd, and off we went in Todd’s Cheyenne truck, blasting some festive Led Zeppelin to spread some holiday joy.

The first five houses went off without a hitch. Each mom greeted us at the door, briefed me on what to say to her kid(s) and grabbed her Kodak disc camera for the obligatory photo session. We were then rewarded with cans or bottles of frosty holiday cheer and once suitably refreshed, continued on our holiday rounds.

Once we entered Rick’s subdivision, one of the Todds turned to me and said Rick asked him if we could stop by the house of one of his neighbors. “Of course,” I said, “Do you know the address?” “No,” Todd replied, “but Rick said it was three doors down from his house.”

“On, Todd, on Todd,” I bellowed and let out a great Santa-esque belch.

We screeched in front of a small ranch house. I asked Todd once again if this was the right house and once again, he said it was. “Go on, man, they’re waiting for you! We’ll wait for you here in the truck!”  So, I hopped out of the truck and bounded up to the house.

I crept up to the picture window and looked inside. It was picture-perfect. The scene was right out of a Christmas made-for-TV movie. One of the holiday specials, “Frosty”, “Rudolph”, “Charlie Brown”, I can’t remember which, was on TV. A little girl and her baby brother were trimming the tree. I smiled. Working retail tends to sour one’s take on the holidays that, back then, didn’t start until AFTER Thanksgiving.

This was perfect. I vowed to give those children my best Santa performance. With that, I tapped on the window pane once, maybe twice. The kids turned toward the window and stared.

“Ho! Ho! Ho! It’s Santa Claus! Ho! Ho! Ho!”

The children looked at each other in disbelief. Then, they started to shriek with glee. They danced around their tree and shouted, “It’s Santa Claus! It’s Santa Claus!”

I took it all in. I liked it. Made me feel all nice and warm inside. So, I ho-hoed some more and I chuckled and waved. The kids squealed even louder. “Mommy! Mommy! Quick! Come here! It’s Santa!”

It could not have been choreographed better. In comes Mommy. She was wearing a Christmas apron and had brought in a tray of freshly baked cookies. I could smell those cookies from outside the window. Now, I was really happy! Santa was going to get him some cookies!!

Mom looked out the window at me. I waved and laughed.

“Merrrrry Christmas, everybody!!”

And Mommy kept staring at me. And kept staring at me.

“Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas,” I chimed! “C’mon, Mommy! It’s cold outside! Let ol’ Santa in and give him some of your cookies!”

That’s when Mom screamed at the top of her lungs, dropped the tray of cookies, grabbed her babies and shoved them into the kitchen.

And that’s when I high-tailed it back to the truck.

The two Todds were laughing. “What happened?”

“Drive!” I said. “Drive now! Drive fast and drive far away!”

I told them what happened. And that’s when the driver Todd shared with me the following nugget: “Man, you were at the wrong house. We were three doors UP from Rick’s house, not three doors down!”

The Xmas refreshments had apparently gotten to Todd the driver. Remember, this was back in 1984 or 85 when one could drive under a festive influence without too much concern.

We made it to Rick’s house without a hitch but his daughter didn’t get the best visit from Santa. By now, I was tired and ready to get out of this costume.

Maybe that’s why Rick started to play Santa. I probably gave such a crappy performance to his kid that he decided to do it up right the next year and, as it turns out, several years since.

That night, when we left Rick’s, we drove past the house where Santa caused all of the commotion. Mom was on the front porch sobbing, telling the story of Santa the peek-freak to police. Neighbors came over. I think some had rakes and pitchforks. One neighbor brought what looked to be his son’s Red Ryder B-B gun. They did not see Santa and his elves drive past, slouched down in their sleigh.

Nowadays, I’m grayer and fatter. I can’t go into stores this time of year. One time, I went to the mall wearing a red shirt and was immediately surrounded by a gang of children, telling me what cell phone they wanted for Xmas. They were followed by a gaggle of mommies, all of which wanted me to bring them a brand new car with a bright red bow.

I can see Rick now, at the Terre Haute mall with a line of kids stretching all the way back to Hohman, Indiana. I hope that some of those kids belong to the two children that Santa had traumatized on that holiday once upon a time.


About the Author
Donn Frizzi is a well-traveled man, if you consider Pennsylvania to southern Indiana to Texas and finally Peoria to be the definition of well traveled. But in each of his stops he gained certain insights that make him who he is — including a Pirates and Rangers fan who must travel to St. Louis to watch quality baseball without buying a plane ticket. Poetic justice, perhaps? A talented writer, Donn also can make a good point by putting pencil to paper and drawing with satirical splendor. We’re hoping to persuade him to grace our website with an occasional toon, as well.