What better way for a writer to celebrate the season, than with a Christmas Story. Hope you enjoy it and Merry Christmas to all who read it.
NORAD Tracks Santa
Twas the evening before Christmas and all through the house, but something seemed amiss. It wasn’t the mouse or the clattering of hooves on the roof that caught the attention of the grownups. Everyone had found somewhere to relax, leaving the dirty dishes scattered on the kitchen counter because at the moment movement was painful. We all had that “whoa – I can’t believe I ate so much” feeling. Yet, we blissfully enjoyed that fit to burst feeling, our stomachs stuffed from turkey and the all the trimmings from our Christmas Eve feast that we had devoured moments earlier. Having overindulged in food and drink all we could do was sit back, barely able to move, giving our digestive systems a bit of time to allow the calories in our stomachs to migrate to our waist lines. So, my daughters and I drifted to the tranquility of the family room, coffees in hand and claiming the usually elusive space on the soft sofa and chairs as our own and settled in. My husband and sons in law installed themselves at the dining room table that they had cleared for the mandatory and competitive after dinner game of UNO. Then it hit us! The house had gone quiet – too quiet. I mean “Silent Night” quiet! Quiet was never good in a household with young boys. My grandsons were up to something.
Up until now our house had rocked with noise, three boys, our grandsons, excited to see each other and play as only boys can play, racing from room to room, screeching, jumping up and down, and now and then leaping off the first landing point of the stairs coming down with a thunderous thud on the floor by the front door. Our hooligans pushed each other in fun, bouncing their attention back and forth from loud combat video games to the cookies, chocolates and other treats left on the table for all to enjoy during the afternoon. A sugar high had firmly set in. Over and over again their parents warned them; if they didn’t behave themselves Santa wouldn’t give them what they wanted for Christmas. Hyperactive intoxication had set in and tears and cries erupted occasionally when they got too rough from their exuberance, all the while, Grandma and Grandpa’s house was slowly being trashed. But that was typical for our family celebrations. It was Christmas after all and leniency was always extended for special occasions, although we generally regretted that decision at some point during the day. Now, with the noise absent, the quiet seemed to scream out to us signalling a reason for alarm.
“Where are the boys,” my daughter Lori said.
“They’re probably upstairs playing some game on the computer,” I offered.
“Not good,” Sarah, my other daughter, said. “I bet Charlie has found another site with naked women.” Charlie was twelve and loved exploring the Internet for interesting YouTube videos and occasionally landed on sites that were too mature for him, completely by accident of course. Lori bristled as Sam, her eight year old and little Jack, only five, might be looking at age inappropriate images. An ever dutiful mom, Sarah rose painfully from the couch, her forehead furrowed and blood in her eyes, ready to go upstairs to rip into Charlie and administer swift and stern discipline. Lori looked like she was about to follow.
“Let me check on them,” I said. “I’m sure they’re not doing anything they shouldn’t.” My daughters gave me their “don’t count on it” look, but they acquiesced still feeling much too full from a big meal and not wanting to get into the unpleasantries of dealing with deviant boys. So I went upstairs to deal with the situation, mulling how I might handle little boys looking at porn.
The door of the second bedroom was open, light glowing out into the dark upstairs hallway. I tip toed to the door way and peeked in so they wouldn’t notice me. There they were, three heads fixated on the computer monitor as an electronic sounding rendition of “Santa Clause is coming to Town” played softly from the speakers. “You better watch out” the song played. Indeed I thought! From the doorway I couldn’t see the images on the screen but in my mind I envisioned full breasted women in Christmas themed red scanty panties and bras with fluffy white fur trim at the nipples titillating their immature boyish curiosity. And there he was, Charlie with mouse in hand, Charles as we called him when he was in trouble, looked to be in charge of the whole situation, as the oldest usually is. He was sitting in between the other two more innocent participants leaning on my arm chair that I used for computer work. Sam snuggled on the left close to his older cousin, one elbow on the desk and his other hand pointing to something on the screen. Little Jack, had pulled up an ottoman belonging to the reading chair that resided in the corner. He was perched precariously behind Charlie, his hands on his shoulders as he peered at the screen his chin resting on Charles’s right shoulder. Even if they were about to be put on Santa’s very naughty list, I admit the scene of solidarity was rather endearing, three little heads so intent on the contents of that monitor, however rude the assumed images might have been. But I had caught them in the act and now they were busted.
“What are you guys doing,” I said catching them by surprise.
Jack turned to me first, fear and bewilderment on his face, his eyes big as saucers and breathing rapidly. He looked at me in complete surprise and paused a moment as he tried to find the words to explain. “It’s Santa! He’s in his sleight with Whoodolf and his weindeer.”
“He’s over Germany,” Sam said pulsating with exhilaration. “He’s coming. Grandma, where’s Germany?”
“Norad tracks Santa’s ride on Christmas Eve,” Charlie said in a very grown up voice. “Have a look.” He made room for me to see what they’d been looking at on the screen and clicked expertly with the mouse to show me how to get frontal and side views of Santa’s great ride, all the while “He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake,” crooned through the room. The four of us pulled in tight as Charlie zoomed in an out first showing Santa’s trajectory against the map of the world and then in close up with details of his exact location.
I have to admit that I felt ashamed that I let my daughters convince me that they’d been up to no good. They were my grandsons and as far as I was concerned, they were always good, even when they weren’t – in my eyes at least. I sat and listened as they explained how Santa could deliver presents all over the world in one night and I saw how proud they were that they’d been smart enough find and navigate the NORAD site and to track exactly where Santa was and the progress he was making. With my heart overflowing with pride at their ingenuity, I delighted not only because they were having so much fun but particularly because they looked so cute. I left my adorable trio to continue their escapade unsupervised and went downstairs to deliver the good news to the adults.
About fifteen minutes later the silent reprieve was over. Three boisterous yahoos came thumping down the stairs, little Jack running behind yelling “wait for me” in a voice that was impossible to tell if he was screaming or crying. “I need help to get my boots on,” he said.
That drove the adults, all of us, to the front door entrance to investigate. “What’s going on now,” I asked.
“We should be able to see him,” Sam said. “He’s in Cambridge.”
“What makes you think that?” I said. “Santa was in Germany only a few minutes ago.”
I knew Santa was fast but surely not that fast. I went upstairs to check the computer as the boys scrambled to get on their coats. Well they were right. Santa was indeed in Cambridge – Cambridge in England that is. Close enough I thought and gave my geography challenged little guys the benefit of the doubt. “It’s really cold outside guys. You have to dress warmly and you’re not allowed to go further than the sidewalk.” I helped Jack with his hat and boots and zipped his Columbia up to his neck and he bounded outside to join his brother and cousin. “Yah right!” I thought. Fearing that their excitement made them suffer from hearing loss. I felt it prudent to watch from the front window. But they did as they were told and stayed on the property around the house. Just for insurance, I called out the door as a reminder and they promised compliance. I went back inside and decided to check on them again in five minutes.
Four minutes later, more noise as the boys came back inside animated and laughing. Charlie and Sam shed their coats and boots and dropped them on the floor by the door. Jack however ran directly into the family room where five adults looked at him curiously. He stood in full winter gear with his boots dripping onto the carpet, his eyes wide and his face looking like he’d seen a ghost. His mouth moved but nothing came out, somehow at a loss for words I assumed.
“Well did you see anything?” his dad asked.
“I saw something,” Jack said. He appeared quite spooked talking in breathless short gasps. “It was red and bwinking.” He looked to be on the verge of hysteria as his mind tried to process what it might mean, his eyes darting from side to side as his brain worked for an explanation. Finally he knew what it was that he saw. “It was Whoodolf,” he announced as the adults tried to hide their bemusement.
“We have to go home right now,” Sam said. “We haven’t put out our cookies and carrots yet. Without cookies and carrots for the reindeer, Santa won’t leave our presents.”
How could you argue with that kind of reasoning? There appeared to be urgency to Sam’s declaration. So as not to disappoint, Lori and Ralph got up and hurriedly gathered their stuff to go home so their boys could complete the necessary preparations for Santa’s Christmas Eve visit.
After his cousins had left, I found Charlie leaning against the kitchen table looking very matter of fact his arms crossed over his chest trying to look like the adult which he was not. He was twelve, unlikely that he still believed in Santa Clause, though no one had ever asked him. I smiled at him and gave him a big hug.
“That was very nice of you Charlie,” I said.
Charlie looked pleased and smiled back. “Yah,” he said. “I thought I’d keep the magic alive.” I chuckled. He had barely stepped out of the fantasies of childhood himself. And, tonight he relived the enchantment of the Christmas legend through his younger cousins and by doing so he kept that magic alive for the grownups as well. One of our grandsons had come of age tonight but had discovered his own way of spreading the joy and happiness of a very special holiday and by doing so reminded us that as long as you keep that Christmas magic in your heart, Santa and his sleigh will continue to ride the skies on Christmas Eve – all over the world.