Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Chapter 9 Real Santa (Chapter a Day until Christmas)

GEORGE’S FATHER WAS studying the Berghoff menu in his

floppy hat and long coat, looking more like a bag person than a man

who had retired after forty years working for the railroad. The menu

framed inside the front door of Berghoff’s was from 1931.

“Look at this! This is how much things used to cost! This was

when a man could afford to eat! Look, a dinner for a quarter! Shrimp

for fifteen cents! None of this bullshit now where you can spend a

hundred bucks and still get a shitty meal!”

His father turned.

“Can you believe how good things used to be?”

“Yes, I can,” George replied dully, brushing off the snow.

“How did everything get so screwed up,” his father muttered.

“You want to get a table, Dad?”

His father shrugged wearily. “Yeah, let’s get a table.”

They sat down, and his father started looking for a waiter.

“So, you get a job yet?” he asked, dropping his floppy hat on the

table. The shiny dome of Kronenfeldt Sr. caught the light.

“No, Dad. I didn’t get a job,” George muttered.

“Well, coming down to have dinner with me won’t get you one.”

“I know, Dad.” George paused and brought up his notes from the

night before. “I wanted you to go over some drawings I made and tell

me what you think about my calculations.”

His father pulled on his glasses.

“What the hell is this?”

“It’s calculations I did on the load-bearing capabilities of the roof

of my house.”

“Santa Claus . . .” His father squinted. “What the hell?”

“I’m doing a project at home, and I’ve been working out the numbers,

but I wanted to get your thoughts on some of my calculations—”

“What, you’re building a bridge over your home? What is this

thing?”

George leaned over and tapped the drawing. “That’s a ramp.”
“A ramp? A ramp for what? You driving a car onto your roof?”

“Not exactly. I’m going to be driving nine reindeer on my roof. I

figure at about three thousand pounds . . .”

His father looked up.

“Son, have you lost your mind?”

George sat back as the waitress approached.

“What can I get you gentlemen?”

“Double order of sauerbraten extra cabbage, extra spinach, coffee,

and a big piece of apple pie.”

“And you, sir?”

“I’ll take an iced tea and the same,” George replied, handing the

waitress the menus.

She left, and he stared at his father.

“Seriously, son. I think you should talk to someone.”

“I’m doing a project for Megan, Dad.”

His father frowned. “What kind of project—a zoo on your roof?”

George clasped his hands and breathed heavily.
“No, I’m going to be Santa Claus. The Real Santa Claus.”


His dad leaned back against the upholstered booth.

“Oh, good. I thought you might have gone nuts. You’re going to
just be the Real Santa Claus. That’s a relief.”

George stared down at his plate. “Dad, do you remember what

you said to me when I asked you if there was a Santa Claus?”

“No.”

George paused. “You said that the only way there could really

be a Santa Claus was if he went the speed of light. And that if he

went the speed of light, the g-forces would tear him to pieces, and

he would be fried like an egg. You said he would combust and splat

all over the place.”

His father shook his head. “I never said that.”

“Yes you did, Dad. You were working and in one of your moods,

and I asked you at the wrong time. That’s what Mom said.”

“Nope. I don’t remember that.”

George paused. “It doesn’t matter, because I said the same thing

to my son, Jeremy.”

His father shrugged. “He’s a grown man now.”

“I know that. But I still screwed him by telling him that when he

was just a kid.”

His father waved his hand. “Ahhh, kids find out sooner or later.”

“I never did, Dad.”

“Well, you’re different. You’ve always been a little off, son.”

“Thanks. Anyway, Megan is starting to question Santa Claus,

and I almost told her the same thing. I almost did it again! She is

starting to now believe in Santa and won’t believe unless she sees

the Real Santa Claus.”

Kronenfeldt Sr. shrugged. “So that’s it. There is no real Santa.

Just tell her that.”

“I can’t do that. I want her to believe in Santa, Dad.”

“But why?” his father cried out.

“Because you only have a short time before life turns to shit.”

“Yeah … so?”

“And I want to extend the magical part for her.”

“Son, you can’t stop life. That’s just reality.”

George looked at his father. “Dad, I am going to do this thing. I’m

going to be the Real Santa. I’m going to land a sled on the roof, go

up the chimney, go down it, deliver the gifts, and then I’m going to

get back in the sled and take off into the sky. I would like your help,

but I will do it with or without you.”

“I think this last job fried your brain, son.”

George smiled and looked down at the table. “I need your help,

Dad. I need someone who can tell me what will work and won’t. I’m

good on bridges, but this is everything. You were a civil engineer and

a mechanical engineer. I need someone I can trust. But if you don’t

want to help me, that is fine.”

“What in the hell are you talking about?”

“Dad, I have it all laid out. Here.” George pointed to the drawing.

“I’m going to have nine reindeer go up this ramp, but I think the pitch

might be too steep. Anyway, they will go onto the roof here. Then

they will line up and be attached to a sled and go a few feet on the

roof. The sled will never really take off or land. That will be done with

digital projectors and smoke machines. So the real physical part I need

your help on is reinforcing the roof for the extra load, maybe three

thousand to thirty-five hundred pounds. There will be two ramps,

one for the reindeer to get on and one for them to get off, here and

here. They will have to be fairly long and not too steep.”

George’s father stared at him. “You’re going to put reindeer on

your roof?”

“Yes.”

“Son.” He shook his head. “You have really lost your marbles.”

“Dad, I’m doing this. I am going to let Megan keep her childhood.”

His father chewed on his lower lip then shook his head. “I knew

you should have never gone to that summer camp. You never were

the same when you came back.” He put on his glasses and looked at

the drawing. “How are you going to go down the chimney?

“Same way mountaineers climb—with a rope-and-pulley system.”

His father looked up. “There’s not enough room in the chimney.”

“There are two chimneys. I’m going to have the adjoining wall

knocked out, and I will have a ladder or rungs on one side that will

allow me to climb up and down the chimney.”

His father closed his eyes then held his hands over his face.

“You’re going to kill yourself, son.”

“Not if I’m careful.”

“Son, this is nuts.”

George leaned in. “Dad. I have spent my life working and not

being with my family. I screwed up Jeremy and Jamie. I’m not going

to mess up Megan.”

His father leaned back against the booth.

“Son, give her a trip or a car or something, but this, this is a

disaster!”

“Then you won’t help me?”

His father rubbed his forehead and didn’t speak. He took off his

glasses and rubbed his eyes. “Jesus!” He shook his head again. “Where
 
will you get the reindeer?” he asked through his hands.

“I have a man I am going to see tomorrow.”

His father put back on his glasses and stared at the drawing again.

“Your ramp is all wrong. It has to be a lot longer than this if you

want these animals to go on a roof. Do you have a calculator?”

George handed him his calculator. “Thanks, Dad.”

“Just don’t tell your mother,” he muttered.

George looked at his father. His mother had died five years before.

Order Real Santa
 
 


Monday, October 27, 2014

Chapter 8 Real Santa (A chapter a Day Until XMAS)

GEORGE DROVE HIS daughter to school through the snow-covered

quiet countryside. It was the benefit of moving into the middle

of nowhere. You got to see a lot of nature, and it was very pretty with

the heavy snow in the pines and the homes looking like something out
of Currier & Ives. Jingle Bells was on his satellite radio, and George

drove with his coffee cooling in the console and his daughter humming

along with the Christmas music.

“Well, I don’t get to do this every day.”

“Why don’t you never go back to work, Daddy, then you can

drive me every day?”

Megan smiled at him with her two large front teeth.

“I might just do that,” he murmured.

“I like it when you take me. Mom always goes over my homework

in the car but you just play music.”

“That’s why dads are more fun.”

He pulled into Ridgeland Elementary’s parking lot. George looked

over at his daughter and had a momentary pang of sadness. She had

been turning to him, and her hair fanned over one eye. She looked

like a young woman. It pained him to think that next month she

would break into the double digits.
“Dad, you are supposed to drop me off in front of the school.”

He turned off the car. “I just wanted to speak to Mrs. Worthington

about your Christmas party and see if she needs any more helpers.”
Megan hoisted her backpack with the small duck clipped to the

zipper. The duck gave him heart. She was still a little girl. There was

still time.

“That’s all set I think, Dad. I think they have enough moms.”

“Well, maybe they can squeeze in a dad,” he said gingerly. “Come

on, you can show me your classroom.”

George and Megan squished through the snow and walked into

the heated lobby of her school. The smell of institutional food took

him back to when he was a boy. Where did that smell come from anyway?

It seemed every school in the world was sprayed with cologne of

warm caramels. He followed his daughter down through the hallway

crammed with teachers, mothers, students and the occasional dad.

George and his daughter walked into her classroom, where kids

were dismantling their cold-weather gear. Boots, coats, hats, scarves,

melted snow, and gloves were all over the place. The American flag

hung on one wall with the ABCs running over the board. Posters

about being a good writer, a good citizen, and a good speller broke

up the cinder block walls. Children squealed with excitement. George

remembered his own moment of bliss in sixth grade when he had

walked home from school with a small rubber basketball. It had been

a gift from the Christmas party, and he bounced it the whole way,

knowing that only good things were ahead.

“Dad, there’s Mrs. Worthington, if you want to ask her about the

party,” Megan whispered.

His daughter had already hung her coat, scarf, and gloves in her

cubbyhole. She was very efficient, and George marveled at how different

she was from his other children. Everything seemed a struggle

with his prior family, whereas Megan seemed preprogrammed. So

far, she had been a parent’s dream.

“Alright, I’ll go ask her,” he said, approaching the woman with

the silver globe of hair.

George cleared his throat. “Ah, Mrs. Worthington?”

Cold grey eyes turned on him. He smiled at the dowager in the

print dress with the cold, thin lips.

“Yes. May I help you?”

“I am Megan’s father, George Kronenfeldt.”

Mrs. Worthington put down her pencil and clasped her hands.
 
“Children take your seats!” Her eyes returned. “What can I do for

you, Mr. Kronenfeldt?”

“Ah, well, Megan came home and told us about the conversation

you had about …” George leaned down and whispered, “about Santa

at the North Pole and how it’s too cold for him there.”
Mrs. Worthington’s eyes frosted over. “And?”

George smiled again, tweaking his beard. “Well, I was thinking.”

He leaned in closer. “If you could just go easy on the whole Santa

couldn’t survive up in the North Pole stuff, I would appreciate it.

Megan is starting to doubt the existence of Santa, and we’d like to

keep that illusion in place as long as we can.”

Mrs. Worthington’s eyes dulled, her mouth turned down.

“It is my job to teach these children, Mr. Kronenfeldt, not perpetuate
 
myths.

George stared at the woman, who had crossed her arms. He

suddenly remembered Mrs. Gary in first grade who hit him with a

pencil because he couldn’t make his eights properly. Mrs. Gary hit
him on the skull. No, no, no, no. How stupid are you? You make them

like this! Then he made another snowman. NO, NO, NO. LIKE THIS!

Whack, whack, whack! Mrs. Gary had broken several pencils before

he drew an eight.

“Well, I am just requesting you stay away from Santa discussions

then. These children don’t really need to hear that the climate in the

North Pole is too harsh for Santa and his elves,” he continued gingerly.

Mrs. Worthington raised her pencil like a jousting pole.
“Mr. Kronenfeldt, nobody tells me how to teach. I will teach as I

see fit, and if you have a problem with that, then I suggest you take it

up with the principal. I knew I would get one of you parents coming

in here whining about Santa Claus.”

George felt his face turning red, watching the pencil in her hand.

“Whining about Santa Claus?”

“That’s right. Every year it’s the same thing. I get some bleeding

heart parent who thinks I have damaged their child.” Mrs. Worthington

beat the pencil in her hand. “Life is hard, Mr. Kronenfeldt, and it
is getting harder. The last thing these children need are more myths.

George laughed lightly.

“Ah … well with all due respect, Mrs. Worthington, that is not
 
for you to decide.”

Mrs. Worthington stood up in her floral dress with the pencil in

her right hand. She batted the pencil toward George like a piston.

“This conversation is over. Please leave my classroom.”

George stared at her.

You going to hit me with that pencil?”
 
“What?”
“Weren’t you ever a little girl, Mrs. Worthington?”
 
“Goodbye, Mr. Kronenfeldt.”
George stared at her.

“You were never a little girl who believed in Santa?”

Mrs. Worthington shook her head.

“We did not have myths in the home I grew up in!”

George frowned.

“What … were you raised in a Conestoga wagon by nuns?”
“Goodbye, Mr. Kronenfeldt!”

“Look, just leave Santa Claus out of the classroom. Okay? And

there will be no problem.”

Mrs. Worthington’s eyes narrowed, the pencil probing toward

his face.

“Are you threatening me, Mr. Kronenfeldt?”

George grabbed the pencil from her hand and snapped it, throwing

the two pieces on her desk. He leaned in close to the old teacher

staring at him like a rapist.

“Don’t friggin’ mess with Santa.”

Real Santa...Sometimes you have to go for it.

STARRED REVIEW BOOKLIST

"If somebody doesn't make a movie out of this book, there's something wrong with the world. This could have been played as an out-and-out slapstick comedy, but instead the author approaches the story like a character study: a portrait of a man with the best intentions in the world watching those intentions collide with reality. It's a steamroller of a story, starting small, with George's idea, and getting bigger and bigger as George tries to put the elements together, as his obsession takes him further and further away from reality. Beautifully done."                                                                                                 
                                                                                                 David Pitts Booklist


"The author marries the everyday dramas found in the novels of Tom Perrotta and Nick Hornby to the high camp of Carl Hiaasen or Dave Barry. Adults looking for a funny holiday-themed tale that doesn't lose its sense of wonder in the face of realism will find a treat here. A lovingly crafted comedy about the madness that fatherhood inspires."
                                                                                              Kirkus Reviews



Best-selling author Hazelgrove (e.g., Ripples; Tobacco Sticks) captures the human need to believe in something good.  This book will satisfy readers looking for a happy Christmas story.-- Library Journal


"Hazelgrove's lively improbable narrative will appeal to the readers in the mood for holiday fiction."
                                                                                              Publishers Weekly


 


Friday, October 24, 2014

Chapter 7 Real Santa (A Chapter a Day Until XMAS)

GEORGE GRUNTED AND picked at his beard, tapping on his

computer, his calculator, scribbling notes to himself, balling up the

paper, and littering the floor with snowballs. He ate Hershey’s Kisses

as he worked. He had started with the glass bowl, then he just

grabbed the bag from the pantry. Snow blew outside the kitchen

window, showing a man under a yellow light with a grey beard and

spectacles low on his nose. Some would say he looked like Santa

Claus doing his taxes.

George sat back in his chair and stared at the screen of his laptop.

He chewed the inside of his mouth. It might all work without too

much alteration, depending on where the roof joists were reinforced.

He could get up in the attic and check on that. The load-bearing wall

should handle the weight, which he put at about three thousand

pounds, give or take a little. Now of course—

“George?”

He turned and looked at his wife, clutching her robe. “Oh, hi.”

Mary frowned.

“What are you doing up? It’s nearly four in the morning.”

“Is it?” George looked at his watch. “I guess time got away from

me.”

His wife walked up and stared at the paper all over the table.

“What are you working on?”

George paused. Mary was already fingering his drawings, trying

to understand the pictures of reindeer and sleds next to calculations

of payload and stress, with the blueprints of the house showing joist

locations, the exact run of the roof, the pitch—the critical data for a

man trying to place nine reindeer and a sled.

Mary picked up one of the drawings, her eyes bunching. “What

are you doing, George?”

He breathed heavily and set his pencil down. “Megan doesn’t

believe in Santa unless she can see proof that he exists.”

“Okay.”

“She is going to stay up all night to videotape him when he comes.

If he doesn’t come, then she’ll know he isn’t for real.”

Mary waved him away. “Kids say things like that all the time.”

He paused. “I lied to you when I told you how Jeremy found out

there wasn’t a Santa. I told you it was my wife who told him, but it

wasn’t. He came to me and asked me how Santa Claus could do it.

He asked how Santa could deliver all those presents in one night to
kids all over the world. And I said, let’s figure it out.

Mary nodded slowly. “Okay.”

“So I took out my calculator and started figuring out miles per

hour and payload, and basically I came up with a sled weighing three

hundred and fifty-three thousand tons, traveling at six hundred and

fifty miles per second, creates an enormous amount of air resistance

in the form of friction. So I explained that with this heat, the reindeer

will be much the same as a spacecraft re-entering the earth’s atmosphere.

The lead reindeer would have to absorb fourteen quintillion

joules of energy. Per second. Each!”

Mary shook her head. “George, you’re losing me.”

He breathed heavy, shaking his head.

“Then I told my son that in short, the first pair of flying reindeer

would burst into flames almost instantaneously, exposing the next

pair of flying reindeer. This would create a deafening sonic boom in

their wake, and the entire reindeer team would be vaporized in less

than five seconds. Santa meanwhile would be subjected to g-forces

equivalent to seventeen thousand times greater than the force

of earth’s gravity. A two-hundred-and-fifty-pound Santa would be

pinned to the back of the sled by more than four million pounds of

force and would spontaneously combust. In short, he would be fried

beyond all recognition.”

Mary stared at him. “You told your son that?”

George nodded. “He was nine.”

“Oh, George!”

“I know. I thought in the name of science and deductive reasoning

it was better to work it out with him.” He looked at Mary. “You know

what’s worse? I almost did it again with Megan.”

Mary stared down for a moment.

“I’m sure Jeremy didn’t follow all those calculations.”

“No, but he remembered that I told him that Santa would spontaneously

combust. It was horrible. He has held that against me ever

since.” George nodded to the table. “I’m fifty years old. I probably just

destroyed my career, and I have two kids who hate me and one who

still believes in me.”

“They don’t hate you.”

“Oh, yes they do,” he replied, nodding. “I don’t blame them. I

was always working when they were growing up. I was always lost

in my own world.”

Mary took his hand. “You were a good father.”

“That’s not what they would say. Anyway, I determined I wasn’t

going to let the same thing happen to Megan. I want her to have

dreams. I want her to have a great childhood. I want her to believe

in Santa until she’s ready to give it up. I don’t want the world to take

it from her. Not yet.”

Mary stared at her husband. “So what are you saying?”

George looked at his computer and the pages of calculations. “I’m
saying I’m going to be the Real Santa. She said she wants to see Santa

land on the roof, go up the chimney and down it, deliver the presents,

and go back up the chimney and fly away on his sled. That’s what

she wants to see, and I’m going to make sure she sees a real Santa.”

Mary didn’t move. She stared at the man with his arms crossed.

“But how will you do that?”

“Well, I’ve worked out a lot of it. I was thinking Dean could help

me with the special effects. Obviously, the only real way to pull it off

would be a relativity cloud, but since we don’t have the technology

to produce that, I will have to settle for smoke and mirrors.”

George spun around his laptop. “I initially thought getting the
reindeer on the roof would be the hardest part. But it really is just a

matter of preparation. I’ll have a ramp built here. The reindeer can

be herded up onto the roof and put into line. Fortunately the pitch of

the roof is so slight the reindeer will be able to stand. It is a question

of how much the roof can take. I’m thinking three thousand pounds

at a minimum with the sled and payload. Obviously the sled will have

to be custom, and I’m thinking it will run on rails much the same

way a train does and—”
“George!”
He looked at his wife, who was now standing.
“Tell me you aren’t really thinking of being the Real Santa!”

He shrugged. “Who else? There will be a certain amount of risk,

and I couldn’t ask anyone else to do it. Scaling a chimney in the middle

of the night could be considered hazardous work by some, but with

proper precautions, I think the risk will be minimal.”

Mary felt her face growing warm. “You are kidding.”

“No.” George picked at his beard. “No. I’m going to do this. I want

to keep my little girl’s dreams intact, and this is the only way. For one

night I will be the Real Santa, and Megan will be able to videotape it,

and if she puts it out on the net, who knows, maybe other kids who

have doubts will see it.”

“But kids just stop believing, George … it’s inevitable.”

He looked at up at his wife.

“I’ve been an engineer who has built bridges and screwed up his

family. That’s all I can say for my life so far. Here is my chance to do

something good. I want to do something I can believe in, Mary. I

want to do this for Megan. I don’t want her to be knocked down by

the Mrs. Worthingtons of the world.”

His wife sat back down at the table.

“But … won’t this be expensive?”

George shifted in his chair.

“There will be costs. But it shouldn’t be too bad. Basically I’m

going to rent some reindeer for a night and hopefully a sled, and then

I’m going to put them on the roof and go up the chimney and down

it. There will be alterations to the chimney and ramps will have to

be built to get the reindeer up and down, but after that I don’t see a

lot of costs.”
 
Mary looked at her husband.

“There are only eleven days to Christmas.”

He nodded grimly and looked at her. “I need to talk to Dean for

the technical problems. Can you call him for me?”

Mary sat quiet at the table. She remembered the night she walked

home from the library and saw an old woman walking alone with

a cane. At that moment, Mary had seen herself, and she wondered

what would she have to show for her life. She had registered on three

dating sites the next day and ended up marrying into a family of eccentric

Swiss men who engineered cannons for armies and bridges

spanning rivers all over the world.

She looked at her husband and nodded.

“I’ll call him tomorrow.”

Real Santa...Starred Review Booklist

The author marries the everyday dramas found in the novels of Tom Perrotta and Nick Hornby to the high camp of Carl Hiaasen or Dave Barry. Adults looking for a funny holiday-themed tale that doesn't lose its sense of wonder in the face of realism will find a treat here. A lovingly crafted comedy about the madness that fatherhood inspires."
                                                                                              Kirkus Reviews



Best-selling author Hazelgrove (e.g., Ripples; Tobacco Sticks) captures the human need to believe in something good.  This book will satisfy readers looking for a happy Christmas story.-- Library Journal


"Hazelgrove's lively improbable narrative will appeal to the readers in the mood for holiday fiction."
                                                                                              Publishers Weekly



 
 
 


Pity the Ebola

Just got here. Wow. America. New York City! Just like I pictured. Skyscrapers and everything. And I have a great host. A doctor. Sooo...lets check out the city. Eight million people. Eight million. Smorgasboard. Whooh. Beats Africa and those crappy villages. So...lets go for a cab ride. Very cool. Handling money and credit cards. Maybe I'll just leave my mark on the seat here while I see the sites. Man this is so urban! Just like television.

Ok that cab was cool. Now what doctor? Ah...the subway! Man. This is cool. Underground. Dark. Moist. Ebola weather. And all these people! Wow. In a tube shooting under the city. Amazing. Just amazing. And the doctor is bumping up against all these people. Easy jump here. Just a little brush up against someone. Maybe a good cough. A sneeze. Wow. The subway is just so New York!

Alright back up and what is this? Bowling? This is cool. So you roll this ball and it hits these pins and guess what the doctor tried out like ten balls. Yeah baby. Sweat. Residue. Ebloa cha cha cha. Yeah...man the doctor is burning it down. How about another game? What...the hospital? No. No. NO. Not the dudes in the funky suits. Ah crap.

Boring. Stuck in this plastic tent. Come on. We still have to see the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. What about Central Park? Lets go catch a football game. Doc. You really are being a party pooper here. Literally. Alright. Alright. Guess I'll just hang out...and multiply. What a drag.

www.williamhazelgrove.com
Real Santa...how far would you go for your kids?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Dad Days

Occasionally going past the ball fields I'll think back on those Dad Days with my son. Maybe it is that old line from Risky Business. "Time of your life huh kid." And when you are going to all those games and being assistant coach or just watching you are having the time of your life. You really need someone to sneak up on you and go Hey...cherish these because they slip by quickly.

I remember once a very long time ago my son and I were drinking pop and eating potato chips in front of the hardware store and a man walked by and smiled and said just that: "cherish these moments they slip by quickly." He was right.  Suddenly your son is at college or working and you just wonder where all that time went.  My last three novels Rocket Man, The Pitcher, and Real Santa are really all about the Dad Days. I see that now.

And I have two daughters and so my Dad Days are far from over but those days of going to a dusty field with other dads and yelling at our sons to hit and catch and run and then going to McDonalds or Dairy Queen afterward and having the satisfaction of taking just about all life has to offer at that moment in time...that is over.

So it is just those old ball fields now...silent reminders of something that passed.

www.williamhazelgrove.com
The Pitcher
Real Santa
 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Chapter Six of Real Santa (A chapter a day until Christmas)

 
                                Santa’s Relativity Cloud
GEORGE CLIMBED THE stairs to his daughter’s room and stood

outside, listening to her hum Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer. He felt

the day lift from his shoulders again. Just the sound of Megan’s voice

had the power to cure ills, aches, and pains.

“Hi, Daddy!”

“Hey there, pumpkin.”

She was in her bed behind a fortress of stuffed animals. He walked

over and hugged her, breathing in the faint scent of soap and feeling

her wet hair. “How was your day, Daddy?”

“Oh, fair to middling,” he replied, sitting on the bed and looking

around her room. There was a Hannah Montana poster along with

several posters of Cinderella, one of puppies, and an old Gone with

the Wind poster he had rescued from a video store. There was also

a bulletin board of softball pictures, Girl Scouts pictures, drawings

from school, and a pair of tickets from Wrigley Field when they saw

the Cubs last summer.

“I heard you lost your job,” she whispered, setting down her DSi.

George stared at his daughter, with her spreading blond hair.

Megan had Janis Joplin hair. Where did such a thicket come from?

No one on his side had the wild curly hair of his daughter and her

saucer-size brown eyes.

“Really? How did you know?”

“I heard Mom on the phone. Don’t worry, you’ll get another one,

Dad. You always do.”

“I’m not worried, pumpkin.”

“I’m not either, Daddy,” she continued, putting down her DSi and

picking up a book.

“What are you reading?”
“Ramona Feeds Her Puppy.”

“Hmm, is it good?”

“I just started.”

George nodded, staring outside at the snow piled up on her windows.

Farther on he could see the large double chimney of the old

house. The fireplace hearth was so large, a man could climb into it.

“So I heard you were playing with Jackie today.”

“Uh huh.”

George stroked his beard and shifted on the bed.

“I heard you gave your mother a letter.”

Megan put down her book and stared at her father.

“She wasn’t supposed to show you that.”

“Why not?”
“Because it was private.

“Oh.” George shrugged. “I think questioning the existence of Santa

Claus is something you need two parents involved in.”

Megan put down her book and sat up next to a large stuffed

giraffe. “I’m sorry, Daddy. I just don’t see the data to support Santa

Claus.”

“Just because Jackie says there isn’t a Santa Claus doesn’t mean

it is so, Megan.”

She shook her head. “It’s not Jackie. I frankly don’t see how parents

could afford all those presents.”

“Exactly!”

Her brow furrowed. “But I have done research on the Web, and I

know all about the history of Santa Claus. How he started as a Dutch

legend of Sinterklaas, which was brought by settlers to New York in

the seventeenth century.”

“Okay.”

“And how he started to appear in the American press as St. Claus,

but it was really the popular author Washington Irving who gave

Americans information about the Dutch version of St. Nicholas and
 
then the more Americanized version appeared around 1823 in the
poem ’Twas the Night Before Christmas by writer Clement Moore,

which included details about elves and the names of his reindeer and

the method of going down the chimney and all that.”

George stared at his daughter. “You really did your research.”

“And, it was the American illustrator Thomas Nast who gave
us a fat Santa Claus when he drew his picture in Harper’s and the

whole thing of good children and bad children came about and the

workshop at the North Pole, which as Mrs. Worthington points out

is a very hostile environment.”

“Let’s hear it for Mrs. Worthington,”George murmured.

“But it was really the Coca-Cola Company in the 1930s that gave

us the red-suited Santa we know today.”

“That is quite a history.”

Megan frowned and scrunched up her brow. “Yes, but really,

Daddy, I just don’t see the proof. I have gone all over the Internet

looking for actual footage of Santa landing on the roof with his sled,

climbing up to the chimney.” Megan gestured out to the darkness.

“Going down the chimney and delivering the gifts, then going back

up the chimney, getting into his sled, and then flying off into the sky.”

George squinted at his daughter.

“There is no YouTube video of that, huh?” he asked.
“No. Just some guy in his backyard going HO HO HO. It was really

pathetic.” Megan formed a small fist. “I want empirical evidence, Dad.

And to be honest, I really just don’t see how the physics makes sense.”

“You don’t, huh?”

“No. Reindeer, Daddy, cannot fly.”

George nodded slowly. “Hmm … well I see how you arrived at

your hypothesis, but I must point out there are three hundred thousand

species of living organisms we have yet to discover, and we can’t

rule out the existence of flying reindeer.”

Megan scrunched up her mouth, her eyes narrowing. “Then how

can he get to all the children of the world?”

“Speed of sound,” he replied, shrugging. “There are probably two

billion children, and that gives him thirty-one hours.” George pulled

out his BlackBerry. “So maybe … mmm, 822.6 visits per second,

maybe a total trip of 75,500,00 miles around the world, 650 miles
per second, speed of light. It’s doable.”

“What about payload? How can he carry all those toys?”

George punched the calculator on his phone.

“Well, let’s give it two pounds for each kid, two billion kids, then

the sled is carrying three hundred tons of cargo, not including Santa.

Yes, it’s doable.”

“Daddy!”

“What?”

“We are talking here about a man in a sled!”

George put away his phone.
“Megan, Santa is magic, and he does exist. You just have to believe

it.”

“Then how does he know what I’m thinking?”

“Elaborate underground antenna collects electromagnetic waves

from the thought waves of children.”

“Uh huh … what about the elves? What proof is there of that?”

George leaned over. “You know those tiny screws in your DS

there?”

“Yes.”

“You know that tiny Phillips head screwdriver we have to use to

get them out?”

“Yes”

“Well, that’s an elf screwdriver.”

Megan squinted at him. “I think you are fibbing.”

George crossed his chest. “It’s true.”

“How can he make it to every house, and why don’t I ever see

him?”

“Relativity cloud. That allows him to control space, time, and

distance. The relativity cloud moves so fast, you can’t see him—a lot

like the way a bee buzzes by.”

Megan pointed out the window. “And the chimney?”

“Same relativity cloud. He can shrink and expand the cloud.”

“What about finding his way?”

“GPS,” he answered.

Megan sat back and stared at her father, one eyebrow raised.

“Really? I need hard evidence, Daddy,” she stated flatly. “That is why

I am going to stay up with a video camera if you guys let me use ours,
 
per second, speed of light. It’s doable.”

“What about payload? How can he carry all those toys?”

George punched the calculator on his phone.

“Well, let’s give it two pounds for each kid, two billion kids, then

the sled is carrying three hundred tons of cargo, not including Santa.

Yes, it’s doable.”

“Daddy!”

“What?”

“We are talking here about a man in a sled!”

George put away his phone.
“Megan, Santa is magic, and he does exist. You just have to believe

it.”

“Then how does he know what I’m thinking?”

“Elaborate underground antenna collects electromagnetic waves

from the thought waves of children.”

“Uh huh … what about the elves? What proof is there of that?”

George leaned over. “You know those tiny screws in your DS

there?”

“Yes.”

“You know that tiny Phillips head screwdriver we have to use to

get them out?”

“Yes”

“Well, that’s an elf screwdriver.”

Megan squinted at him. “I think you are fibbing.”

George crossed his chest. “It’s true.”

“How can he make it to every house, and why don’t I ever see

him?”

“Relativity cloud. That allows him to control space, time, and

distance. The relativity cloud moves so fast, you can’t see him—a lot

like the way a bee buzzes by.”

Megan pointed out the window. “And the chimney?”

“Same relativity cloud. He can shrink and expand the cloud.”

“What about finding his way?”

“GPS,” he answered.

Megan sat back and stared at her father, one eyebrow raised.

“Really? I need hard evidence, Daddy,” she stated flatly. “That is why

I am going to stay up with a video camera if you guys let me use ours,
ney. “How many reindeer are there?’’

“Daddy, there’s nine including Rudolf—Dasher, Dancer, Prancer,

Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen.”

“Nine,” he muttered staring at the roof. “And do you know how

much a reindeer weighs?”

“Between two hundred and six hundred pounds.”

“Hmmmm.”

George picked at his beard as he took out his phone and did

some quick calculations.

“What are you doing, Daddy?”

“Hmm … nothing.”

He turned around and smiled. “I think you have a good plan.”

Megan’s eyebrows went up. “You do?”

“Yes. And you can use our video camera.”

Megan threw her hands up.

“Thank you, Daddy!”

He walked over and gave her a kiss.

“Now, let’s get some sleep, little girl.”

“Alright.”

George turned out her light and walked toward the door.

“Daddy?”

“Yes, pumpkin.”

She had snuggled down among her animals, her hair fanning

out over the pillow.

“I hope I’m wrong. I hope Santa Claus comes.”

“Trust me. You are wrong. And Santa Claus will come. Now get

some sleep, precious.”

“Good night, Daddy.”

George slowly walked down the stairs, grappling his beard. He

paused at the bottom then went to get his laptop.

Real Santa

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

You Are As Old As You Feel

A study in the New York Times has confirmed what I suspected. You are as young as you feel. Researchers took a bunch of men in their seventies and eighties and put them back in an environment where they felt young again. The entire world was turned back to their time when they were young men. And when they came out after a week they were more spry, sharper, more with it in every way. Hmmm...

When I was in college I knew a guy who came back after a divorce and a bad job. He looked at that time like he was in his thirties when in fact he was probably just twenty seven. After two years of college he looked to be in his early twenties. Living the college life again had turned back the clock for him. Certainly we see this time and time again. People who look and act old are old. Whereas people who see themselves as young, feel young and a lot of times look younger.

They are now doing a study with cancer patients. The mind body connection is a lot more powerful than medical science has let on. The patients are all being turned back to a time when they were cancer free and are being surrounded by shows and movies of that era. It all begs a really interesting question. How much of aging is our mind telling out bodies how old we are?

It makes you wonder.

www.williamhazelgrove.com
 

Books by William Hazelgrove