WHEN GEORGE WAS a boy he imagined Santa in a sled with
his reindeer in order, the reins firmly grasped, the wind in his hair,
toys snug in his sack, flying over the rooftops with a great HO HO
HO, landing on a dime, then scampering down the chimney with the
grace of a ballerina and climbing back out after a snack of milk and
cookies, throwing his sack of gifts into the back of his sled with
hearty, Away Dasher, away Dancer, away Cupid, Comet, and Blitzen!
Then he would fly off to the next house after leaving a note for George
telling him what a good boy he had been and somehow knowing what
he had wanted because there it sat under the tree.
What he didn’t think about was what it took for Santa to gear up
for just one house. As a boy he assumed other kids got their gifts, but
he really didn’t care how Santa did it. George now stood outside in
the cold darkness and saw chaos. Reindeer were galloping back and
forth. People were running after the reindeer. The smell of a farm
hit him like a blast of city sewer gas. Nine animals had produced an
amazing amount of reindeer manure. Men were moving the giant
wooden ramps that looked like something for Noah’s Ark. Other
men were swearing as they bumped the roofline, and George knew
what the clatter had been.
In the middle of all this was Dean on a camera boom in his beret,
riding crop, and breeches. George crossed the yard as Bill McGruff
whistled and amazingly the reindeer trotted to him. He snapped them
into a long harness like something you would see in an old Western.
George was amazed at the docility of the animals under the grizzled
“These assholes couldn’t build a ramp to specs if their life depended
George turned to his father. “Hi, Dad.”
Kronenfeldt Sr. shook his head, standing in his parka like a fat
snowman. A woolen BEARS hat sat just above his eyes.
“The ramps are off, so the reindeer are going to fall on the roof
and off,” he grumbled.
“What can we do?”
“I’m having the numbskulls build a small gap bridge for the difference.
Hopefully it will hold, or you’re going off the roof.”
“Hopefully,” George murmured.
“I better go see what these assholes are doing,” Kronenfeldt Sr.
muttered, stomping off.
George turned to Dean, who had descended from the camera
boom walking with his two twentysomething assistants in matching
REAL SANTA coats.
“Everything is going exactly to plan, mate! We are getting the
roof all set up.”
George turned and saw lights all over the roof and an image
dancing on the far shingles. Men walked around the chimney and the
windows, stringing wires through gutters and down off the side of
the house like long black snakes. A generator hummed by the street
with thick black cables going into a large operations tent, where men
sat with laptops and walkie-talkies. The general hum of the hive was
impressive. Dean rolled his hand across the vista of the roof.
“We ran the smoke machine and the digital projectors, mate, and
it looks STUPENDOUS! All we have to do is make sure you are suited
up, and we get the reindeer on the roof and then jingle the Santa bell
I rigged by the window for the mite.” Dean framed the house with his
hands. “She wakes up, and then I will speak to you on an earpiece
and tell you to go. You go through the clouds and smoke and stop in
front of her window. You get out of the sled, let go a few HO HO HOs,
your gifts and then up again and out, then you give the reindeer a
little tug through the smoke and snow, and we shoot Santa in the sky
again and you, mate, have your Real Santa, and I have my movie!”
Dean held his hands out. “What could go wrong?”
George stared at Megan’s window covered by a spotlight with a
snow machine spraying confetti.
“I’ll keep the snow up if she wakes again, mate, then we drop that
for the real thing, and bingo!”
“You think it will all work?”
He held his hands to the sky.
“Mate, I think this could be my greatest work yet! This could
be my Lawrence of Arabia. It is simply going to be stupendous!”
“I’m putting my trust in you, Dean.”
“Don’t worry about a thing, mate.” Dean pushed him along lightly.
“Now go get suited up, and I want to get you in makeup.”
“Mate, you can’t look like her daddy. I’ll have you looking more
like St. Nick than St. Nick himself!”