Santa is watching

As soon as Thanksgiving week arrives, I call open season on the whole “I think I just saw an elf peeking in the window!” thing. I will use this tactic to improve my children’s behavior shamelessly, and endlessly, from now until Christmas Day. I only wish that I could hold the whole “Santa is watching” trope, and his imminent arrival, over my kids’ heads for the other eleven months a year.

I have been a little sad this November because Santa is on the endangered list in our house. Connor is in first grade, and I swear to God, if I hear one more of his classmates at the bus stop mouthing off to the other youngsters that there’s no such thing as Santa, I’m going to lose it. I figured it out by the time I was 6, so I have been accepting that Connor has moved beyond it. But Seamus is TOO YOUNG to overhear this bus stop gossip, and I am too dependent on the Santa threat to lose it just yet. Plus, this is the first year Maggie understands the whole Santa thing in the first place.

Anyway. We are in Florida this week, on a little Thanksgiving getaway, and hanging out by the pool while the turkey browns inside is a pretty nice way to do things, I must say. Maggie was really cranky about something or other yesterday morning, though, and I was not feeling the holiday spirit; she was working my last nerve. That was when I looked out the back window and saw a man with a white beard putting bug spray all over the bushes.

“Oh my goodness, is that Santa outside?” I squealed.

The three kids ran out on the back porch to investigate. “Mom. Is that REALLY Santa?” Connor whispered to me, and I gave him a wink and a smile and a mouthed “No.” Silly. He was an exterminator, obviously. This was just to get Maggie off topic.

Connor peered at him through the deck railings, then nodded to himself. “His belly is a little small. But I’m pretty sure it’s really him,” he said.

This was a shocker. I was certain Connor had stopped believing, and was just keeping up appearances on the off chance it WASN’T me buying all the presents under the tree. I had to spin my own opinion back to the side of plausibility. “Well, if it WERE Santa,” I hedged, “it would sure be a good disguise. No one would ever expect to see him looking like that. Plus, it’s a good way to peek inside all the houses in this neighborhood.”

The man finished, and saw us all watching him intently as he turned to leave. “Y’all have a good Thanksgiving,” he said, and departed with his spraying tool. It was not until he turned to go that I saw his yellow-ish ponytail, hanging halfway down his back. It had about fifteen ponytail holders on it, at closely-spaced intervals. It was not, shall we say, a Santa look.

“That was DEFINITELY him,” Connor breathed. “Bye, Santa!” Maggie called after him, and I was only moderately embarrassed. Hey, I’ve gotten two relatively blissful days of good behavior ever since. Thanks, Santa!