Guys, I met Santa.
Of course I’ve met him many times in my life between the ages of two and ten, at malls, on firetrucks, and maybe during a random appearance at a bank. And then I stopped meeting Santa. And I stopped trick-or-treating. And I stopped hearing the voices that all my action figures and stuffed animals once had. That is to say, I grew up.
For the past four years that we’ve lived in our house, the local fire department has gone around the neighborhood with Santa riding the firetruck. And for the past four years, I’ve experienced a longing — a psychic pain during that hour when I’ve heard those sirens echoing down to the bottom of the cul-de-sac. Of course part of me still wanted to run up to the top of the street with a half-crazed look in my eyes, gawk at the big shiny firetruck, and meet Santa.
But I didn’t. Because I didn’t want to be a weirdo.
This year, I had the kid. He was my socially-acceptable ticket to the top of the street. (He was also my socially-acceptable ticket to trick-or-treat this year, and it was awesome.)
He’s five months old now. He’s super cool. Look at him:
I began hearing the sirens on Saturday night. Immediately I dropped everything I was doing and announced to the wife that IT WAS HAPPENING. We ran around the house Home-Alone-style, looking for our shoes and hoodies, and bundled up the kid Christmas-Story-Style. As a last minute thought, I also harnessed up the dog. THE WHOLE FAMILY WAS GOING.
We power-walked to the top of the street, while also trying to look like we were just calmly, casually taking a family walk. Well, that’s what the wife was doing anyway, with the baby. By then, I had worked up to a full-on jog with the dog, leaving those two in the dust. I didn’t want to miss anything.
I got up there just in time to see the firetruck drive by without turning down our street. I stood there dejectedly and awkwardly, along with a few other kids. We stood there completely lost. There was another parent — a dad who also looked gutted. He stammered “oh, I’m sure they’re going to loop back around once they go up Mayfield.” The kids clung to that explanation, and so did I.
We all waited for a bit, but I realized the baby couldn’t just hang out in near-freezing temperatures for long. Rather than go home, I went to get the car. I parked at the top of the street with the heat on, and the four of us — me, the wife, the baby, and the dog, sat there in the car for thirty minutes, waiting for Santa.
I felt like we were camping out for rock show tickets or something. Actually, I began to feel a little deranged. Then again, it was for my son. It was so my son could meet Santa. Which my son would only care about if he could put this Santa thing in his mouth.
Well, at least there was the dog. She seemed game. Then again she also probably just hoped it ended with something she could put in her mouth.
Then the wife said, “you know, we’re finally getting to do one of those things we always said we were going to do once we had the kid.”
I presume she didn’t mean “obsessively stake him out as a family.” We never talked about doing that.
But yeah, we were doing it. And it was super great.
And fortunately, that dad was right — Santa did loop back around and come down our street. And I met him! And so did my son! And the wife! And the dog!
And I can’t wait to do it again next year.