It was a crisp Saturday afternoon in early December when my parents went off to do a little Christmas shopping. They left my older sister Jade, to watch my brother Jordan, and myself. She was probably thirteen. Or maybe she was ten? Who knows, it was the 90s so anything went.
Upon leaving the Sunset Plaza, my parents noticed Earl May (Nebraska’s most elite gardening store) had a plethora of beautiful Fraser fir Christmas trees. If you’re not familiar with a Fraser fir, well then we must have different mothers. Because my mom was a Fraser fir SNOB. She simply could not tolerate any other kind of tree in our home.
Do we look like a family of peasants?
Didn’t think so.
So they pulled the old sky blue Nissan Stanza into Earl May for an impromptu tree purchase. After my mom found a tree that fit her expectations, “tall but not too tall, bushy, but not too bushy, and not too sappy, I don’t want sap all over my carpet! And not too dry, because we all know I’m the only one who waters it. God forbid we have a fire..” the store said it was finally time to take her home. As well as the tree.
While my parents were checking out, the cashier asked if they’d like to take advantage of the “Santa tree delivery” service they were offering today.
“We have a special delivery man dressed as Santa who can drop the tree off at your home!” The cashier explained.
“Wouldn’t that be fun?” My mom’s eyes lit up as she imagined the joy my sister, brother, and myself would feel as we opened the front door and saw who else but SANTA?! And holding a beautiful Fraser fir, no less. “It really is a good looking tree,” my mom noted.
“Let’s do it!” My dad agreed, most likely because it meant less work for him.
And so my parents paid the extra delivery fee knowing the Christmas surprise would be one we’d never forget.
Meanwhile back at home, my two siblings and I were sitting in the living room, minding our own business when we heard the doorbell ring. My sister walked to the front window to take a peek before opening the door, we were home alone after all.
“Who is it?” My brother shouted.
“I don’t know,” she responded. “It looks like some weird guy… in a Santa suit.”
My brother and I exchanged glances, then immediately got up to see for ourselves.
Sure enough, we saw a creepy guy in a Santa suit smiling from ear to ear, with a large Christmas tree covered in ropes behind him.
“Is he selling Christmas trees?” My brother asked.
“This doesn’t look right,” my sister said, a nervous twitch in her eye.
This is the part when I tell you about Jade. She’s always been…just a bit overly cautious. For example, when we were little she insisted that I sleep with her every night because she said it “was fun.” But in reality, she was using me (her toddler-sister) to ensure her safety. She forced me to sleep on the outside so if an intruder were to come, I’d be the first to go.
Eventually I moved into my own bed except for one night a year when she begged me to stay with her; Christmas Eve. Because even though she knew Santa wasn’t real, there was still that “what if?” thought that crept into her mind. What if there really was some creepy old spirit that had free rein to taunt children once a year… WHAT? IF? And by “children” I mean teenagers, because Jade continued this well into her high school years.
So now you understand the situation a little better.
After we didn’t respond to the doorbell rings, Santa started to knock.
“Why won’t he just leave?” Jade stammered, her uneasiness growing stronger by the second.
At this point in time, my mom and dad were waiting in their car about a block away, just beaming at the thought of how much Christmas fun their children were having at this very moment.
“Should we call the cops?” Jade finally said.
My brother and I shrugged, not sure what to do in a situation like this.
“Mom and dad should be back soon,” Jordan offered, although I couldn’t help but notice he was starting to look a little nervous, as well.
This wasn’t good.
“Get to the floor,” Jade demanded, “he might be looking in!” Naturally, we obeyed. Then we all crawled toward the kitchen so Jade could get the cordless phone and my brother could get a butter knife- you know, for safety.
“Ho! Ho! Ho!” The strange man called out from the front porch. This was spiraling fast.
We had one of three choices here; we could either continue to pretend we weren’t home, call the police, or we could start shouting loudly, letting it be known we were armed and ready.
We went with option three.
“We have guns!” My brother yelled.
“Lots of them!” I added.
*we did not have guns.*
“Go away! We don’t want your tree!” My sister screamed.
Where in the heck are mom and dad, I remember thinking as we crouched on the kitchen floor, plotting how we’d take down Santa when he eventually broke in.
“Do you think he’s in by now?” My mom asked as she and my dad hummed along to Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, relishing in the joy of being such great parents.
“I bet. They’re probably so excited they’re helping him set it up and everything.”
My brother stuck a butter knife in my hand, “If he comes in, you go for his shins and I’ll go for his stomach. Got it?”
I nodded and gulped at the same time. I didn’t want to stab Santa, but if I had to, I would.
“I think he’s leaving!” My sister announced. “But he didn’t take the tree! what the heck?!”
We watched as the creepy guy in the red suit slumped back to his car, waited a second, then eventually pulled out of our long windy driveway.
My parents caught Santa as he turned off our block and they signaled for him to roll down his window, “how’d it go?” My mom asked excitedly, ready for all of the fun details.
Santa shrugged, “they wouldn’t open the door.”
“They’re home, they’re not allowed to leave,” my mom responded.
“Damn it, if those kids walked to the gas station to get candy again–”
“Someone’s definitely home,” Santa said, “I could hear shouting.”
“Like excited shouting?” My mom asked.
Santa shrugged, “I really don’t know, I’m sorry. But I gotta get back. I left the tree–”
“Wait, you just LEFT the Fraser fir?” My mom’s eyebrows hit her hairline when she heard this “Where?”
“On the ground near the front porch.”
“On the GROUND?”
Bad Santa. Not okay.
“Can you give it one more try?” My dad said, sensing a blow out, as well as the fact he’d now have to carry the tree inside. “I bet they were just excited. Maybe they thought you were selling something, they never open the door for solicitors.”
“I’m already behind schedule,” Santa argued.
“Please, we paid for this,” my mom reminded him. “And it will be special for the kids.”
My brother, sister, and myself had barely put away our weapons when we heard the doorbell ring again.
“No,” Jade said without looking toward the window.
“He’s back,” Jordan said.
“How do you know?” I asked.
“I heard jingle bells.”