By Kieran Shea
-- Now then, who do we have here? Don’t be shy. That’s a good girl. Watch your step, honey.
-- It's Katey. Don’t you remember me, Santa?
-- Of course I remember you! Katey! Katey! I must have Mrs. Claus take a look at my glasses, ho-ho! Come, come. There’s a good girl. So sullen now, whatever is the matter? We can’t have frownies at Christmas, ho-ho! No-no, we can’t have frownies at Christmas, not at this special time of the year.
-- I kind of brought a list.
-- A list! Ho-ho! Good, good. I keep lists myself, don’t you know. All kinds of lists. Lists for good little boys and lists for good little girls. My reindeer keep a tight regimen, so I have lists to keep them well exercised, don’t you know. Can’t be flying this way and that around the world without some discipline. Did you know that Santa keeps a treadmill in the barn for the reindeer when the snow is too deep for them to go out and play? Ha! It’s true. No one knows that. Let’s keep it as our little secret. Let’s see this list you have here now. Hmmm….
-- I put it in order from the ones I want the mostest to the ones I’m not sure of, see?
-- The top two would be awesome, that is, if you’re not too busy.
-- The ones on the end are just extra.
-- Are these for real?
-- Oh. They’re for real all right.
-- No, ah, I mean, I see that this is your, um, handwriting and all that. And what beautiful handwriting it is, don’t you know, all straight lines and colors. But these things, sweetie. Oh my. Oh dear.
-- What’s wrong, Santa?
-- Tell the truth now. Did someone put you up to this?
-- Put me up to this?
-- The list.
-- What about my list?
-- These things.
-- Uh-huh, what about them? It’s okay, I know you can get them. My older brother has a computer so I checked online.
-- It’s not that, sweetie. What I’m trying to say here is—has your mommy and daddy seen this list?
-- It’s supposed to be a secret. You know, just between us.
- I know, but—
-- I sent a copy in the mail, but I kind of sent it late. Wasn’t sure I had the right stamps. Daddy says the Postal Service people are stupid. Like the government.
-- I see.
-- Don’t poke Santa’s tummy, sweetie.
-- Hey. I said stop that.
-- Did you lose weight? I think you were a little heavier last year.
-- My mom lost weight last year when she got sick and lost the baby. I really wanted a little brother or sister, but that’s okay. I kind of like being the littlest. And anyway, they’re going to try again. Dad’s always nagging her about getting back in the saddle.
-- What’s wrong, Santa? Is it my spelling? I’ve been really, really, really trying to get better at my spelling.
-- No, honey. It’s not that. It’s just—
-- Just what?
-- …one PopSoft Big Nighttime Black Sniper Rifle with Collapsible Stock, one Delta Force 5 Piece Merc Set with Goggles, one Wee Warriors Full Auto Kalashnikov Replica with Strap, one Playwonder Red Ninja Outfit with Blade, two Kombat-Kidz Ammo Belt Bandoliers with Plastic Bullets, one twenty-four inch Jungle Jane Crossbow—honey. Don’t you want some Play-Doh or something?
-- I’ve already got plenty of Play-Doh. If you mix the right colors they kind of go gray-green like C-4. I like to pretend to set the charges.
-- Where the fu—I mean, where are your parents, kiddo?
-- My daddy’s over there.
-- Look, he’s waving.
-- Oh God.
-- Santa! You shouldn’t take the lord’s name in vain.
-- Ah, sorry. That’s was naughty of me.
-- That’s okay. I forgive you. Can I have a candy cane?
-- Sure, sure. Here take two.
-- Two? Gee! Thanks, Santa! Merry Christmas!
-- Right. Merry Christmas…off you go...psst. Psst! Elf! Yo, Elf!
-- Mr. C. in the big chair…‘sup, jollyman?
-- When does this line end?
-- Forty-five minutes left, but that line, man, I wouldn’t bet on it. Store kind of wants us to hang around until the end so as we don’t tick off the customers and all. Hey, you look a little shaky there, big fellah. Are you okay? What did that little girl say to you anyway?
-- Believe me, man, you do not want to know….
-- Huh. Okay then, Cringlicious. I’ll move the little runts along, and before you know it we’ll be packing a bowl in the parking lot and getting shitty on two-for-one pints over at Applebee’s. ‘Tis the season!
Some of Kieran Shea's fondest Christmas Eve memories involve evading police while driving a delivery van and being hammered at midnight mass with his four brothers. He divides his time between Annapolis, MD and Ocean City, NJ.