I saw Santa Claus on Saturday while I was wondering through Bass Pro Shop. Mr. Claus was already sitting on his appropriate big chair taking a break between kids.
“Hey, Santa!” I hollered out, “Merry Christmas!”
“And a Merry Christmas to you, young man!” Santa offered back, giving me a good effort, but not yet seasonal “Ho-Ho!” as he waved my direction.
It felt good to give Santa a wave and a greeting. I’m still a believer in the Magic at Christmas and Santa is a part of that magic. I decided to press my luck.
“Hey, Santa,” I stopped and turned back as I saw him look my way, “any chance you could give me an early Christmas present and have my Razorbacks beat Mizzou on Football Black Friday?”
Santa hesitated. I saw him thinking, then I saw what I first thought was a twinkle in his eye. But on second glance….NO! That was no twinkle in his eye! That was a snarky look in his eye. Santa wanted to give this wise-guy a wise-guy answer.
I stopped. I stared. C’mon Santa – you entered into this conversation, say something un-Santa-like. I dare you.
Then, just as assuredly as Prancer, Dancer and Blitzen lift Santa and his sleigh into the sky, he hit me with it: “Ho-Ho! My good man! You think those loser Razorbacks can defeat our red-hot Missouri Tigers?” he gave a wave my direction, then softly gave me a punch to the gut, “You should know that the only Miracle this Christmas season in the birth of the Christ child.”
A Santa Claus who can kick an Arkansas fan in the shins and at the same time invoke religion and real meaning of the season. That was some holiday magic, alright.
I simply stood there and laughed to myself. “Good grief, even Santa Claus is dropping reindeer poop on my Arkansas Razorbacks,” I thought.
I wanted to say, “Go jump in the lake, Santa.”
Or, “I hope Monsanto creates seeds used to grow reindeer food which creates a genetically diabolical Cupid, Jr. who bites you in the ass, Santa.”
But all I could do was laugh.
The real question we should be asking here is….how does a seasoned, veteran editor, who on his worst day makes attorney and Mizzou Tiger Matt Uhrig cower in fear when I tell him tales of mighty Razorback stories of yesteryear and make news clerk and South Carolina Gamecock fan Stacy Phillips cry when I tell her how my Hogs decimated her little birds in past games, how in the world can this editor be verbally spanked by a man who has taken a solemn oath to never EVER give a discouraging word? It’s Santa Claus, for crying out loud. How can I let him diss my Hoggies?
OK, no. The question should be asked:
What in the name of Jimmy Stewart and “It’s a Wonderful Life” is Santa Claus doing at Bass Pro Shop on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, anyway?
“Oh, yeah!” I should have snarled at Santa, “Who died and made you the Football Santa, anyway?”
That’s what I should have said. And, “What are you doing at Bass Pro Shop five days before Turkey day, anyway? They bribe you with a Tracker boat freebie or something? Why don’t you leave my Hogs alone and let their season die in peace – you should be FIRED Santa!”
Then I should have posted the entire thing on Facebook.
Yes, I should have gone to a total rant, declared how unfair the Southeast Conference was being to my Razorbacks, how unfair this Santa Claus was being to my Razorbacks and how unfair the entire WORLD was being to me!
Because that’s what we do in today’s society.
Something doesn’t go our way – a McDonald’s employee doesn’t give us the right change by the difference of a dime, a flight attendant insists for some reason that we put our two-suiter suitcase in checked luggage or a teacher calls home to tell us that our kiddo really isn’t allowed to hit other children on the playground – and we go bat-guano crazy, post the incident on Facebook and demand someone be removed from their job.
And why not? The guy we have sitting in the White House – the leader of the Free World – is as self-absorbed in his social media rants as the rest of us, providing the example.
Santa Claus sat forward, waiting for my snappy comeback. Waiting, I suppose to see if my ears would turn as red as my Razorbacks hat. If I would explode and charge his stage waving a fish net and boat oar and claim him to be a pre-season Fake Santa.
Nah. I couldn’t muster the sense of indignation I would have had in my 20s.
“Ho ho! Yourself, Santa,” I said. “I hope you and your Tigers have a good time at the Potato Bowl – or wherever those Tigers go – and that you have a Merry Christmas – even if you shouldn’t be here until next Friday.”