Sunday, December 21, 2014

Dickens Great Financial Failure

Charles Dickens book A Christmas Carol sold six thousand copies it's first week. A smashing success. But Dickens had put up his own money for production costs and they included color ingravings and an ornate cover. By the end of the accounting he barely made costs and had to turn to public speaking to make ends meet.

But it gets worse. We are now used to hearing how books are pirated and downloaded for free. Many see the end of traditional publishing in this now. But of course we think back on Dickens time as the golden age where people paid good money for books with no recourse to he internet. Well, there was the condensation. People took Dickens book and basically reprinted it with very minor changes. This was as standard practice. And within weeks of publication there were many of these condensations.

And to make matters even worse. Theatrical productions sparing up all over London. Pirated versions of a Christmas Carol where Dickens received nothing. He even went to see a few of them. Charles Dickens made money for the rest of his life primarily through reading A Christmas Carol to paying audiences. So the more things change the more they stay the same.

 Of course Dickens great financial failure became our great gain.

Real Santa

Friday, December 19, 2014

Chapter 43 Real Sant (6 Days to Xmas)

THE BELL STARTED ringing, and Megan opened her eyes.

“He’s here! He’s here!” she exclaimed, jumping up.

Megan threw off the covers and stepped into her slippers. She

grabbed the video camera and ran over to the window. She moved

the curtain aside and pressed the on button. She saw fog and thick

white snow in the viewing screen. There was a whirring sound.

“Oh, my gosh,” she gushed.

The world had become quite still. There was only a thick fog and

a light like a distant train coming toward her. Then she saw Santa

and his reindeer in the sky.

“It’s Santa,” she whispered excitedly.

Megan kept the camera on as Santa and his sleigh floated down

through the sky. Then the house shook and the crystal horse on her

dresser crashed as pictures fell off the wall and the bedside lamp fell

to the floor. The house groaned and shook, and Megan thought it

might just come apart. Then she heard a man scream out a swear

word. Megan kept the camera glued to the image floating against

the fog and snow.

“I can’t believe it, I can’t believe it,” she whispered, feeling her

legs shaking and a strange warmth all over her body. “Santa is real

he is real!”

The pounding hooves became louder and louder as the

the whole house shook again, and she felt something under her feet.

Megan knew then Santa had landed because she heard the creak of

the roof and the heavy drumbeat of hooves. Reindeer hooves! Her

softball trophies and bowling trophies and her bulletin board fell

from the wall. The windowpanes shook. The lights flickered. Megan

kept her eye to the camera, feeling her hand shaking. This was the

moment! Now was when Santa would pull up outside her window. The

snow was thick and the fog was like a grey veil. The house sounded

like it was splitting apart as Megan saw reindeer crash through the

white, filmy snow and smoke like phantoms.

The reindeer seemed to be trying to stop and the windowpanes

were shaking again, and she heard snorting and a man’s voice. It

sounded oddly like her father, but of course all men sounded like

her father.

“I can’t believe reindeer are on my roof!” Megan screamed, squealing,

talking to the camera. And then the nine reindeer streamed past

her, shaking snow, snorting, smoking, slushing, lunging, eyes wild, fur

wet, and antlers high. Then a sled broke into view with a large man

in a brilliant white beard, standing up and pulling back on the reins

with all his might, screaming: “STOP! STOP! STOP, YOU DUMB


And the reindeer locked their legs, and the terrific shaking

stopped. Megan couldn’t speak. She just couldn’t speak. She had

Santa’s voice on tape as the sled slid to a halt with the reindeer snorting

and shaking their heads. They stood in front of Megan with their

fur slicked and steaming, puffing smoke from their nostrils like locomotives.

“The reindeer are pooping,” Megan whispered, moving her camera

down the length of the nine large reindeer stepping on the poop, then

centering on Santa and what looked like one of his elves. “Santa has

an elf with him,” Megan whispered, staring at Santa as he wiped his

brow, shaking his head, looking like an astronaut getting out of the

command module, taking a step onto the roof with a loud thump.


Megan exclaimed to the world in tearful joy, “Santa Claus has

just landed on my roof!”

Just then Santa Claus paused, and she wondered if she had been

too loud. He looked directly at her window, and she stepped to the

side. “He might have just seen me,” she whispered, feeling like the

TV character iCarly, explaining to her viewers what was happening.

She peered around and saw Santa moving again with his elf. “His elf

has a beard and is smaller,” Megan continued in a low voice. “Santa

is just like you think he would be … maybe a little fatter … a little

older, kind of dumpy looking.”

“HO HO …” He coughed and began spitting.

“Santa has a cough,” Megan whispered.

“Uhhh,” Santa groaned.

Megan followed him as he picked up an enormous sack of toys

form the sled.

“He has the presents!” she whispered feverishly.

Santa approached the chimney with the elf and stopped at the

base and looked up. Megan thought Santa shook his head and the elf

said something. Santa shook his head again, and the elf held out his

hands for his boot. Santa pushed up then grabbed on to the sides of

the chimney like a man hugging a tree. Megan zoomed in and couldn’t

be sure, but Santa did not look happy on the side of the chimney.

“He’s starting to climb the chimney,” Megan whispered, keeping

the camera pointed out her window.

Santa slowly started to climb the chimney with the presents over

his shoulder, almost like there were steps. Megan followed Santa to

the top of the chimney, where he paused and wiped his brow. He

seemed to be waiting for something.

“I better get down to the living room. He’s going to be coming

down the chimney, and I want to see him come out,” she whispered,

turning off the camera. Megan then left the window to run down

stairs and wait for Santa Claus.

Real Santa

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Real Santa Chapter 41 (8 days to Xmas YIKES)

THE BICYCLE WAS by the tree when she came down. The blue

Schwinn stood out like a diamond. The red ribbon on the handlebars

beckoned her, and Mary and her father went outside. It had been

snowing all week, and the streets still had a thick layer of slushy white.

Her father walked with her on the new bike, holding it up, letting her

glide through the quiet snow.

Santa had brought her what she asked for in the letter her mother

mailed. Dear Santa, I want a blue Schwinn Stringray Banana bike with

five gears. Her parents told her Santa might not be able to deliver such

a bike. But there it was when she came down the slippery wooden

stairs. Sylvia and Shirley and Daffney were wrong. They had walked

home one day, and she had been the lone holdout: Santa was real.

Riding out in the bracing air, she was a happy ten-year-old as her

father huffed by her. And then it happened. The handlebars shifted,

and when she turned straight the handlebars pointed to the left.

Her father frowned and looked at the bike, pulling out an adjustable

wrench from his coat. “I thought I had tightened that bolt down

enough,” he murmured. Mary stared at him as he tightened the steering

wheel, turning the wheel between his legs. Had he really said he

had tightened the handlebars?

“I thought Santa put the bike together, Daddy.”

And years later she realized how tired her father had been. He

had come home from his sales job, and then stayed up half the night
assembling toys. His eyes were red rimmed with heavy bags under

them. He was bent over the bike with a stubble, cranking the bolt in

the center of the handlebars. He wasn’t thinking, and that’s why he

said what he said.

“You’re looking at Santa,” he muttered.

And Mary had stared at him. He kept torquing the bolt with his

bare hands chapped and slightly red from the cold. He finished and

handed her the bike. “There you go.” Mary held the bike and put one

leg over and then paused. She looked at her father, whose eyes had

started watering from the cold, his long overcoat tailing out in the


“You’re Santa Claus, Dad?”

“Yeah, but don’t tell your brothers. They still believe.”

And Mary felt her breath leave. She felt the cheery white world

go away. She brushed away the tears and pushed off, but the bike

slid in the snow, and she felt the rutted ice on her cheek. Her father

picked her up.

“Hey, kiddo, maybe we should try this when it’s not so cold.”

And she had nodded, keeping her head down, brushing away the

tears she blamed on the wind. Her father never knew he had delivered

the hammer blow to her belief in Santa Claus. Even then she knew that

would crush her mother, who went to elaborate means to keep her

belief alive. But she had lost it, and there was simply no turning back.

And that day is what she thought about when she heard the

reindeer trampling overhead like thunder. It’s what got her staring

out the window at Dean floating in space in the green beret with the

snow and fog enveloping the roof. And as she stood at the window,

she felt like that little girl again who had cried on that cold, snowy

Christmas day. And she realized then what George had said was true.

She would have paid a million dollars to have her belief in Santa back.

“I am practical, dammit,” she muttered, hearing nine reindeer

scuff about on her roof.

But there was something about a man who would lead a sled of

reindeer onto a roof for his daughter. And now that man was about

to go down a chimney. Mary considered for the first time that her

husband just might kill himself.

Real Santa

Real Santa$25 Dollar Giveaway!

Chapter 41 Real Santa Nine Days to Xmas

GEORGE STARED AT the snow-covered ramp and felt the same

as before he gashed a hole in the two hundred and fifty thousand

dollar boat. The circumstances were not so different. A large amount

of money had been invested in the gleaming white sailboat George

was to bring down from Waukegan to Chicago. It had become a

ritual and Matt Demler had always called on him with the promise

that if he would bring down his boat, then he could have access to

it all season long.

George was a self-taught sailor and approached it like engineering.

He was proficient and methodical, but he was not a natural sailor.

He did not have the instinct some men possessed that allowed them

to find the edge of the wind. George was an expert sailor, but like the

expert he had to stick to the rule book. The day that he was to take
The Sally Jane down to Monroe Harbor was windy. He jumped on

the boat with the two men who had come to help and took his place

behind the wheel. The owner knelt down on the dock. Matt owned
several boats but The Sally Jane was his pride and joy.

“George, when you back up the wind is going to try and take

you. Just goose the shit out of the motor, and you’ll clear the dock.”

George had saluted in his yellow foul-weather gear with his fur

hat and glasses. He ordered his assistants to guard against the dock

wheels, which were small tires to keep the boat moving along the

wooden rim. George cast off and felt as he did holding the reins in his

Santa suit. It was a feeling of freedom combined with the suspicion

he had no idea what he was doing.
The Sally Jane was immediately taken by the wind, and they started

going straight out toward another moored sailboat. Matt cupped
his hands, and George became confused. Did he say goose it or did

he say go for it? He wasn’t sure, and while trying to hear exactly what

Matt said, he froze. The Sally Jane was about to crash into The Norma

Jean, and that’s when Matt Demler screamed again.

“Give it the gas, George!”

And like a man woken from a dream, he pushed the throttle all
the way up and The Sally Jane churned through the water toward the

dock. George jerked the wheel hard to starboard but the big boat

scraped the dock with all her tonnage against the bumper wheels,

crushing the wheel and exposing the bracket that tore a foot long gash

in her fiberglass hull. Matt cried out in agony, and George turned a

bright-sunset red.

“You stupid bastard!”

That’s what Matt Demler called him. Then he banished him from

sailing any of his boats, and George never did sail again. He eventually

let his membership in the Columbia Yacht Club lapse as well. George

knew he had failed some critical test, and he wondered as he waited

for Dean to signal him, with McGruff standing by with an electric

cattle prod, if he was about to do it again.

The clock touched five to midnight, and Dean was up on his

camera crane. “Alright, mate. You are going to go up onto the roof

and through the snow and the smoke machine, and then you have to

stop those bastards and dismount. You ready? I’m going to ring the

bell now for the little tyke.”

”Roger. Ready to roll.” George looked at Jeremy. “Ready, son? I

really wish your sister were here to see this.”

Jeremy shrugged. “She’ll probably come along eventually, Dad.”

“Alright, quiet on the set,” Dean announced through a bullhorn.

George saw him on his camera boom.

“Alright, then—hit your snow and smoke!”

A long roll of vaporous fog enveloped the roof, then the air filled

with thick white snow like detergent blown out of a pipe. It was

amazing. The

“Hit your projectors!”

George looked down at the monitor as the bell began to ring.

“Alright, mate, she’s up!”

Megan was sitting up in bed and staring at the window.

“Alright … she’s got her camera, and she’s moving toward the

window. Looks like she’s filming now … keep those projectors rolling,”

Dean continued into everyone’s ear on the set.

McGruff appeared by George. “Snap them reins!”

George snapped the reins, and the reindeer remained where they

were. McGruff’s men began pulling on the reindeer.

“C’mon, George, get those shitting bastards moving up the ramp!”

Dean screamed.

George snapped the reins again. The reindeer continued breathing

smoke and farting like popcorn. McGruff’s men had taken to

punching the reindeer. Jeremy leaned over.

“Dad, I think you have to yell at them you know—Away, Donner,

Prancer, Vixen—”

George shouted, “Away, Donner! Away, Prancer! Away, Vixen,

Cupid, and Blitzen!”

“George she’s at the bloody window,” Dean said into his ear. “You

got to get up on that bloody roof! I can only cover with the snow so


“The bastards won’t move,” George yelled into the wireless mike.”
He stared at McGruff and felt The Sally Jane starting to drift into

another boat. “Do something, McGruff!”

“Hang on to yer ass,” McGruff shouted.

He then leaned over and goosed the three lead reindeer with

his cattle prod. The reindeer bolted like they just heard the starting

bell. George and his son were thrown back against the sled as the

animals charged the long wooden ramp. George grappled the reins

watching the backs of the nine reindeer rolling up and down as they

hit the angled ramp. It sounded like a hundred horses clopping across

a bridge as the wood groaned and snapped under the weight load.

George felt the sled swing back and forth as they gained momentum

and bumped onto the ramp.

“ALRIGHT!” Jeremy screamed.

George watched the world fall away with the snow and the wind
and the reindeer pounding up the wooden ramp. Then he realized

he was behind the nine seven-hundred-pound animals, who had

dumped him before. The reindeer had decided that going anywhere

was better than getting shocked. They bolted for the roof in the deafening

thunder of hooves. The question was then: Would they turn

and would they stop?

“Fantastic, mate!” Dean blared in his ear.

George hung on tightly to the reins and heard Dean’s shout again

as he doubled up the reins and entered a void of oily smoke and

chemical snow. Dim train lights strafed the smoky, snowy gloom as

the digital projectors shot an image into the sky. But now George

saw nothing. He was lost in the smoke and the snow with the digital

projector blinding him like the light of a train. His son was holding on

to the sled like someone on a rollercoaster, and George pulled back

on the reins as he felt the sled turning. McGruff had men on the roof

who were to assist in guiding the reindeer on the turn.


“I can’t see a damn thing with all this smoke and snow,” George

shouted into the microphone.

“She is still at the window, and you are not in front of her. You

got to stop them, mate, when I tell you, or you’re going to go right

back down the other ramp!”

George could hear the hissing and the hum of the smoke and

snow machines and tasted the oily chemical snow. He wondered what

his daughter was seeing right now. Like a man in a fogged-in ship,

he looked for any kind of landmarks. He was a jet on final approach,

waiting for a signal from the tower and praying he could stop.

“Alright, assistants, get the hell back before you get seen. The sled

is lined up, and those reindeer have got to stop! Get ready, George!

Okay, you are in front of the window! STOP!”

George felt the sled slow, but the reindeer were still trotting forward.

He jerked back with all of his might and still they didn’t stop.

“Mate, you got to stop those bloody reindeer so the assistants

can grab them!”
And just then, George saw The Sally Jane. She was heading for

the dock again, and he was about to tear a foot-long gash in the side.

George stood up in the sled and pulled on the reins as hard as he

could, screaming out: “STOP! STOP, YOU BASTARDS!”

The reindeer stopped. George looked at Jeremy in his elf hat,

coated in the same white paste that had painted him like a cream-colored

minstrel. They looked like two men who had just flown in from

the North Pole. His son shook his head, eyes beaming like a twelveyear-


“That was awesome, Dad!”

Real Santa

Monday, December 15, 2014

Chapter 40 Real Santa 10 Days to Christmas

THE ROOKIE SIGNED up to catch crooks and crouch behind
cars like the cops on television. He saw himself like on NYPD Blue

or any of the other cop shows where he could run behind a car and

draw out his nine-millimeter and blow away a few bad guys. But here

he sat in the parking lot of Caputo’s with the radio telling him to go

investigate the appearance of Santa. He should be at home with his

wife and his baby, not driving to arrest some nut in his backyard

dressed up like Santa.
But that was how the call came in. “Man dressed as Santa Claus

in a sled with reindeer.” He had asked dispatch to repeat the report.


and he could just see her rolling her eyes. A movie set? He wondered

if there had been any permits given to production companies in the

area. Usually they notified the police.

As the rookie drove through the snow, he wondered if he might

make a contact. He had written a screenplay that he had sent around

and received no response. If it wasn’t a movie, then he would have to

figure out if a man in a Santa suit with reindeer was disturbing the

peace. He would think a homeowner would be allowed to sit in his

backyard in a sled. The reindeer might be a problem. It might be some

dad trying to convince his kids that there really was a Santa Claus.

He turned his squad car and could see lights shining down the

street. Cars and trucks were parked on the sides of the street, and he

saw people walking toward a lit-up house. Definitely a movie shoot.

The rookie felt excitement down in his stomach as he flipped on the

squad’s cherries and drove toward the lights.

George watched the cop crunch across the snow talking into

his shoulder. The radio hissed back as he stared straight ahead like

someone pulled over for drunk driving.

“Mr. Kronenfeldt?”

He turned to a cop with smooth skin and perfect hair.

“Mr. Kronenfeldt?”

“Yes,” he said, with Jeremy next to him dressed like an elf.

“Sir, is this your sled and …” He paused, looking at the chewing

reindeer. “And your reindeer, sir?”

“Yes, officer, they are.” George nodded. “What can I do for you?”

Dean crossed the snow in a frenzy and held out his hand.

“Dean Sanders, officer. I’m the director of this production, officer,”

he announced, shaking the rookie’s hand.

The cop stared at the camera crane and nodded slowly. “So …

this is a movie?”
“Oh yes, sir, officer,” Dean answered, nodding. “Real Santa is the

name. We were just about to shoot our scene when you pulled up.”

The rookie smoothed back his hair.

“Okay, now did you get a permit to shoot this film, because we

have had some complaints from the neighbors.”

Dean frowned. “You know we filed for our permit, but we never

heard back, and you know it’s just one scene, and then we are all


The cop’s eyes darkened.

“I’m afraid that without a permit, I’m going to have to shut you

down. There are some traffic issues, and you have a lot of lights that

are bothering people—”

Dean held up his hand like a man requesting divine intervention.

“Look, officer, we have invested thousands of dollars for this one

shoot—if you could look the other way, I could make it worth your

while,” he said in a low voice.

“Are you trying to bribe me, sir?”
Dean held out his hands.
“Oh, not a bribe, officer—a favor.”

George could see this was going off the rails very quickly.

“Officer …” He handed the reins to his son and turned in the sled.

“I know this looks ridiculous, but I think I can explain.” He gestured

to his house and the room with the movie light shining into the

snow. “You see that yellow window with the snow? My daughter is

up in that bedroom. She is nine years old and has started to doubt

the existence of Santa Claus.”

The rookie crossed his arms. “Go on.”

“And so I thought that I could give her faith back to her if I became

the Real Santa Claus—if she was able to see a real Santa fly onto the

roof and deliver her gifts and then fly away in a sled.”

The cop looked at the sled and frowned. “You’re going to fly in

this thing?”

“If I may interject, officer,” Dean said, gesturing to the roof. “He
will not actually fly, but we will create the illusion of him flying. See

those smoke machines up there and those digital projectors?”


Dean took him by the arm and pointed to the far side of the roof.

“We will project the image of Santa flying against the smoke, and

then George here will run the reindeer up on the roof and come to a

stop in front of his daughter’s window, creating the illusion of flying.

Then when it’s time for him to leave, he will do the same thing and

go down the ramp on the other side.”

The cop shook his head. “That’s pretty neat. What about the

chimney? How are you going to do that?”

George motioned to the two mountaineers hanging off the chimney

like acrobats.

“I’m going to rappel down the chimney with the gifts, then I’m

going to be hoisted back up.”

“Holy shit,” the rookie muttered, staring at the chimney lit by

three movie lights. “And you hired all these people here—this isn’t

really a movie shoot?”

George shook his head. “Dean is a film director who I hired to

help me and has decided he wants to film it, which I’m fine with, but

no, this is really all about keeping a little girl’s belief in Santa.”

The cop stared at Jeremy.

“Who is the elf?”

“My oldest son.”

Jeremy held up a hand. “Hello.”

George turned around and saw his father behind him.

“And this is my dad.”

“Glad to know you, officer,” Kronenfeldt Sr. said, shaking his hand.

“My son is crazy, but it’s a good kind of crazy, officer,” he added.

The rookie rubbed his jaw and puckered his mouth.

“So you see, mate, all we really need is about thirty minutes, and

then we are all done here, and we can restore the faith of a little girl!”

The rookie stared at the ramp and the reindeer and the people

on the roof and the lights set up in the corners of the yard. He shook

his head slowly and looked at George.

“You did all this to convince your daughter that there is a Santa


He nodded solemnly. “Yes.”

“I got a baby at home, but I don’t know if I would do all this if she

didn’t believe in Santa Claus.”

“Wait. You’ll do whatever it takes to keep her happy.”

“What did this cost you?”

“About eighty grand.”

The cop looked at him then at the reindeer and the ramp.

“Alright, I’ll give you a half-hour. But if the neighbors call in again,

I’m going to have shut you down.”

Dean motioned the crane operator and his assistants.

“Alright, folks,” he announced. “IT’S SHOWTIME!”

Real Santa...Holiday Sale

  Vicki Rocco of Modern Family optioned the movie rights of William Hazelgrove's Real Santa for her production company Small But Mighty Productions with an eye to a feature or a made for television movie. Ms. Rocco has to her credits, Modern Family, Arrested Development, Stand and Deliver, U23D, Empire Dreams, Heather, Britany Spears Live, and sees Real Santa as a classic that will pull in people hungry for a new take on the Christmas movie. "No one has done this. No one has taken on the physics of being Santa Claus. It is funny and heartwarming and has all the things we look for in any great Christmas movie."

"If somebody doesn't make a movie out of this book, there's something wrong with the world.                                                                               
                                                                                                 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


Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Christmas Pressure Cooker This Year

You know that bad news by now. We have basically one less week to get ready for Xmas...a mere 12 days away now. Unbelievable. This is because of the weird calendar year where Thanksgiving came late and we lost a precious week between turkey and Xmas. And there are not enough weekends now. And Christmas is coming so fast it is danger of passing us by. I do believe this will be the year we barely remember Christmas.

Of course in Chicago this is exacerbated by the warm weather we are having. Warm by our standards is forties. And there is no snow. But really it is about time. There just is not enough and a lot of traditions are going by the wayside because of that missing weekend. Getting down to the see the lights in the city or the windows at Macy might not make the cut. Forget that there is next weekend and then Christmas Thursday, it will be enough to get all the shopping done.

And it is too bad people are not allowed to take off work for a  week before. At least then we would have a fighting chance to enjoy the holiday before it slips by and we are suddenly on the far side of a New Year.  Oh well, Merry Christmas before it all is all over.

Real Santa

Real Santa Chapter 39 (12 Days Until Xmas)

Mrs. Worthington look at the television again. George was looking

for Mary at the library. She is better off without him. Imagine

running through town like that! Men. Mrs. Worthington turned back

to her novel and heard her husband chortle. She looked up.

“What are you reading, dear?”

Walter, a big man in his slippers, held up the green and red book.

“’Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

Mr. Worthington looked over her glasses.

“Why on earth are you reading that?”

“I read it every year on Christmas Eve.”

The teacher dropped her book and stared at her husband.

“You do not!”

“I do. But if you don’t want to believe me, that’s fine.”

“I don’t see why you would read a children’s poem even once,”

she grumbled.

“I enjoy it.”

“It is for children, Walter!”

He looked at his wife.

“On Christmas Eve we are all children, Barbara.”

“Oh, don’t be ridiculous.”

Walter shrugged again. “Suit yourself. Some of us still believe.”

That one cut her. Mrs. Worthington carefully marked the page

of her novel and saw that George was now in his old house looking

for his wife and children. She could have told him that it was all in

vain. The man had thrown away a perfectly good life with both hands.

Ms. Worthington gripped her armchair.

“What do you mean by that, Walter?”

He looked over his glasses.

“I mean, I still believe in the magic of Christmas.”

“I suppose next you will tell me you still believe in Santa Claus.”

“I might.”

Mrs. Worthington jumped up.

“I have had it with all this foolishness. You are as crazy as that

Kronenfeldt man who is going to prove there is a Santa Claus by

flying a sled onto his roof!”

Walter put down his book and frowned. “I heard about him. I

heard he had hired a whole movie crew to pull it off, and he was going

to do it tonight. I wonder if he really is going to fly a sled onto his roof.”

“How should I know? He has been warned by the principal and

many parents not to try anything that would disappoint the children.”

Walter looked at his wife.

“I don’t see why it’s the principal’s business what he does for his


“Of course it is the principal’s business and mine! If he disappoints

hundreds of children after promising Santa Claus will come and his

daughter promised to put it on the Internet, then it most certainly

is my business!”

“Bah humbug, huh, Barbara?”

Mrs. Worthington put her hand on the mantel and saw that

George had stumbled back to the bridge.

“What do you mean by that?”

Her husband looked up at her.

“I mean that for forty years you have been knocking the stuffing

out of Santa Claus because that strict old German bastard knocked

the magic out of his daughter.”

“My father was a very logical man who didn’t believe in fairytales.

I appreciate that he told me early on how the world was.”

Walter sighed. “He told you his view of the world, Barbara, not

the way the world is. He didn’t know what it was like. All he knew

was how to work from sunup to sundown in his fields and sell eggs

off his back porch.”

“I resent that Walter—”

Her husband sat up, his eyes flashing uncharacteristically.

“And I resent that you have imposed your beliefs on hundreds of

children who do believe in Santa Claus. What the hell is the harm in

believing there is something better than this life?”

Mrs. Worthington was sure the world had gone crazy. Her husband

never talked to her like this. He never crossed her; he usually

acquiesced to her demands with the same placid demeanor he had

when they married.

She raised her eyebrows.

“You are angry, Walter.”

He paused then nodded. “Yeah, I guess I am. You try and stop

a father from giving his daughter the gift of childhood. I guess that

does piss me off.”

Piss him off. Mrs. Worthington felt like he had sworn at her.

“I will not tolerate this kind of talk!”

“What … are you going to give me a time-out? I’m not one of

your students, Barbara.”

“You deserve a time-out with that kind of talk,” she declared

Walter shrugged and stood up, walking into the front hall. He

took out his coat and slipped into his boots.

“Where are you going?”

Walter popped on the hat with the large earflaps she hated because

it made him look like a farmer.

“I think I’d like to see Santa Claus. I think I’m going to go see if

that guy can give his daughter something to believe in.”

“Don’t be ridiculous! You stay right here! Going out in the cold

on Christmas Eve. You are as crazy as this man George,” she declared,

gesturing to the television.

Walter opened the door and turned back to his wife.

“I’m eighty-five years old, Barbara. Maybe I need to believe in

something again.” He looked at the television where George was

running through Bedford Falls. “Go, George, go!”

And with that he walked out the door. Mrs. Worthington stared

at the door then turned to the television where George had been

reunited with his family. Zuzu was telling her father that every time

a bell rings an angel gets his wings. Mrs. Worthington collapsed in

her chair, staring at the happy family in disbelief.

Real Santa Holiday Special



Books by William Hazelgrove