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Sawed-Off Santa

Author Shelley Fraser Mickle
Air Date 12/24/1999

Sawed-Off Santa Transcript

It was 9:43a.m. The headmistress’s voice sounded desperate. “Don Hern has the flu. He was going to play Santa for us today, so will you do it?”

I guess word had gotten around that I owned a Santa suit. I’d worn it on the past Halloween and had nearly died from heat exhaustion while I was in it.

“Oh, I don’t know,” I said. “Right off, the kids will know I’m a fake.” What I was thinking about was that Don Hern is six foot three and over two hundred pounds. I am five foot three on a good day. And I couldn’t see how any kids could get excited about having a visit from sawed off Santa.

“But we’re desperate,” the headmistress said, then painted a pitiful picture of the four-year old class lining up at the play yard gate because they’d been told that after recess Santa was going to visit. Darn! Nothing gets to me quite like little kids’ hope. “Give me forty-five minutes,” I said.

When I pulled up to the school in my station wagon, at sight of me the kids on the playground whipped themselves into a frenzy. That’s when I got stage fright. I stopped off at the girls’ bathroom for one more stomach lift. As I was pulling things into alignment, two little girls came out of the same stall door behind me. One had on a mini shirt and the other had a pony tail coming out of the top of her head. Our eyes met in the mirror over the sink, and the tallest one asked, “you’re going to visit in our class today, aren’t you?”

I was reluctant to try out my Santa Claus voice, so I nodded.

“Well, I want to qualify her,” she said and pointed to her side-kick. “She’s been good all year.”

“I’ll remember that,” I said, realizing I now had the handle I needed to pull off the day.

In the prekindergarten room, as the first child came to sit on my lap, I looked down at the rest of the class sitting on the floor around us and asked, “who’ll vouch for him?” When they all looked blank, I explained, “who’ll stand up and say he’s been good all year?” – That’s what vouch means.”

Right away all twenty-five kids jumped to their feet. They did it, too, for every kid in the room, just stood up over and over until everyone had been vouched for and had named something off their Christmas list. I can tell you, it’s a really nice feeling to play Santa, no matter what size you are.

Posted in Holidays, Stories