“WHAT WAS THAT, Daddy?”
George looked up from the book toward the window.
“I just heard a clatter,” Megan said, her blue eyes growing larger.
“I think I just heard a clatter! I think it’s Santa! Where’s my video
George felt a ticking down in his groin. He heard footsteps on
the roof and something bumped the house. He had managed to keep
Megan away from the windows through dinner. Now he was in the
final countdown. ’Twas The Night Before Christmas was usually read
to Megan by them both, but Mary had nodded grimly, telling him
to go ahead.
“Sweet dreams, precious,” she said, going back to her wrapping
in the bedroom.
George couldn’t help thinking this was a presentiment of things
to come. Then he had started reading, and the world seemed distant.
He had set the video camera up for Megan and put it by her bed. He
had gone over how to operate the camera and made her press the
buttons to get the camera in RECORD mode. He explained how the
bell would ring by her bedside when Santa came.
“I want to wake up every hour to make sure I catch him,” she
whispered, peeking out of the curly blond hair edging her eyes.
“I am certain you will catch him,” George assured her
at his watch. “But with the bell, you don’t have to worry. When he
comes it will ring.”
And then he had started to read and now there was this “clatter”
on the roof. Megan already had the camera in her hand, pulling back
“I’m going to look!”
George stood up. “Let … let me look first.”
Megan stood by her bed with the camera in her hand.
“Okay, but let me know if you see Santa.”
George walked to the window and lifted the blinds to a scene of
utter chaos. Lights shined crazily all over the lawn. Reindeer were
standing in the middle of his yard with a man trying to herd them
toward the ramp that looked like a runway to the stars. People were
all over the roof with glowing screens—men with computers and
smoke machines and snow machines. The reindeer were shitting in
the grass. Dean appeared like the Wizard of Oz on a camera boom,
rising above the roof behind a large camera.
“What do you see, Daddy? Is it him?”
He dropped the blinds down quickly and shook his head.
“Nothing. Nothing at all.”
Megan frowned. “Is it snowing?”
“Snowing—not yet, but soon I’ll bet.”
Megan started to get out of the bed.
“I want to look outside.”
There was another thump, and Megan’s eyes grew large.
“Is that Santa?”
George’s phone rang, and he saw that it was Dean.
“Hold on … stay in the bed,” he commanded, walking into her
large closet of stuffed animals, dolls, a rocking horse, and clothes.
“Can you guys keep it down?” he whispered.
“Sorry, mate. The little mite asleep?”
George stared out the door and saw Megan starting to get out
of the bed.
“Megan, I told you to wait in the bed!”
She crossed her arms and pouted.
“Still up then?”
“Yeah, and she heard you guys and wants to look out the window.”
“Oh, don’t let her do that, mate. These reindeer are shitting all
over the place and do they stink! The buggers keep breaking loose.
I don’t think that McGruff knows what he’s doing. I’m right outside
the window now on the boom, mate. You in the first window there
with the light?”
“Yes,” George whispered. “But she wants to look out the window
and wants to see if it’s snowing! Can you hide everything?”
“Ah, no way, mate. We are constructing the set you know. But
listen, mate, I have an idea. Give me ten minutes, and I’ll give her
a snowy Christmas, and then the little bugger will go to sleep with
sugar plums in her head.”
“Alright … ten minutes. But you can’t have all those people!”
“Leave it to me, mate! Just leave it to me!”
George pushed his phone dead and walked out. “Now where
“We were going to look out the window,” Megan declared in her
red Santa pajamas, arms crossed. “But you won’t let me!”
George sat down on the bed.
“Well, how about this—how about we finish the book and then
look outside and see if it is snowing?”
“We’re going to miss Santa Claus,” she grumbled, slipping down
in her covers. “And I want to see if it is snowing.”
“Megan, I promise you won’t miss Santa Claus, and we will check
and see if there is any snow.”
“Okay,” she grumbled, still pouting.
George opened the book again and began reading. And as he
read he remembered his own father reading to him. It was one of
the few things his father did that showed he recognized Christmas
as a reason to stop working and leave the basement or garage and
participate in a communal holiday. He read the entire book to George,
sitting on the edge of the bed, his heavy bass voice reciting the words
while the snow fell outside his window. Then he tucked him in and
gave him a kiss good night.
“ ‘… and to all a good night.’ ”
George closed the book and stared at the window.
“Can we look outside now? Can we, Daddy?”
George looked at his watch again and stared at the curtains. He
breathed heavy. “Well, I guess we can,” he murmured. “Maybe we
should read another book—”
Megan jumped out of the bed and ran to the window, throwing
back the curtains. George felt his heart leap.
She jumped up and down. “Look! Look!”
“Okay,” he murmured, sure now they were done.
He got up slowly, walking toward the window. Megan turned to
him, her eyes shining.
“It’s snowing, Daddy!”
George frowned and looked out the window. Thick white snow
was falling down in front of it and piling on the roof. It was an amazing
amount of snow.
“It’s so dark out, I can’t see anything except the snow,” Megan
said, jumping up and down.
“It is dark out,” he murmured, feeling his phone vibrate. He held
the phone to his ear, and Dean laughed
“What do you think, mate—enough white Christmas for you?”
“Yeah. How are you doing it?” he whispered.
“Movie magic, mate. Got the snow machine pumping away, and
there are some people holding a scrim just beyond the snow, but your
little mite just sees a snowy night.”
“Well, lots of work to go, mate, and you are due in makeup once
the little one falls asleep.”
George put his phone in his pocket and stood with Megan watching
the manufactured tufts of snow piling up. His daughter turned
and looked at him.
“We are going to have a White Christmas, Daddy, for Santa!”
“Yes we are, so you better get in the bed so you can catch him.”
Megan jumped back in her bed and yawned.
“I have to get to sleep so I can wake up and catch Santa,” she
declared, looking at her clock and the video camera by her bed.
George turned out the light and only a single Christmas candle
lit the room from the far window. This too reminded George of when
he was a boy and sat in the yellow glow of the candle and waited excitedly
for Santa. He remembered the crust of snow on his window
and how the world seemed to pause. George leaned down and felt
his daughter’s arms go around his neck. She hugged him tight.
“I love you, Daddy,” she murmured sleepily.
“Merry Christmas, Megan,” George whispered.
He stood up and walked to the door then turned. Megan was
staring at the movie snow just outside her window.
Real Santa...What would you do for your kids?
"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."
Starred Review Booklist
"This heartwarming and humorous Christmas story shows the determination of one man to bring magic to his daughter's childhood."
Best-selling author Hazelgrove (e.g., Ripples; Tobacco Sticks) captures the human need to believe in something good. His mixed bag of characters can all trace their adult personae to their loss of Santa and how they adapted to the news. This book will satisfy readers looking for a happy Christmas story.--Library Journal