Al Campbell, Field Editor

December 23rd, 2002

The Santa Trap
By Al Campbell

I think I was about eight years old when my parents informed me that Santa Claus was just a myth. It was devastating to learn that my favorite Yuletide hero didn't exist and therefore I wasn't going to find presents under the tree on Christmas morning. Of course, my parents didn't tell me there would be no presents, but if Santa was a myth, who would deliver them to the good kids on the night before Christmas? Like I said, I was devastated.

Being the good buddy that I am, I had to rush out and spread the grim tidings to my childhood friends, Hic Belcher and Darnit Stammer. Of course, their response was predictable. I heard the usual cries of "no way" and "you're lying." Then, as disbelief turned to denial, "it's a communist plot" became the chant. Finally, in an effort to counter the claims of my parents, we read a strange letter Darnit had, from an editor of a newspaper somewhere that said "Yes Virginia, there is a Santa." It wasn't a pretty sight.

After the third reading of "the letter," Hic and Darnit decided they should go home and tell their parents about the awful things my parents had said. You never know; there might have been wanted posters in the Post Office with pictures of my parents on them. The description of the crimes would almost certainly say something about un-American activities, communist plots and crushing the dreams of children everywhere.

When he returned, Darnit was in tears. His parents had told him that they had intended to let him think there was a Santa until he was a little older; but in reality, Santa was only a myth. Oh no! Darnit's parents had turned to the dark side too! Was there no hope of saving Christmas and all the traditions children had observed for centuries?

When Hic returned, he had a big smile on his face. His parents were more liberal in their thinking than Darnit's and mine. Of course there is a Santa. Hadn't we all sat on his lap in the department store earlier that month? Didn't Santa have a list of the things we wanted for Christmas? It was just a nasty joke our parents were playing on us. Unfortunately, by then, Darnit and I had our doubts.

Eventually someone suggested setting a trap to catch the chubby little elf and prove once and forever that Santa really does exist. That was a brilliant idea. Hic's father even volunteered to help us set the trap. Like I said, he was more liberal in his thinking than my parents, and he had more holiday spirit too. With the help of Hic's dad, we created the perfect Santa trap complete with bent willows, about 100 feet of baling twine and cookies and milk for bait.

I couldn't sleep the night before Christmas. The prospect of an empty trap was too heavy a burden for my young mind to handle. At the first hint of light on Christmas morning, Darnit and I met Hic and his father in their front yard. Sure enough, we had proof. There were sled runner marks and hoof prints on Hic's roof and a red Santa suit in our trap. Unfortunately, Santa had escaped; but his clothes were proof enough for us to believe in the happy elf.

While we surveyed the evidence, Hic's dad went inside to call the newspaper, but they were too busy to send a reporter. Darnit and I dragged our parents to Hic's house to show them the evidence, and Hic's dad took pictures of the evidence so we could prove Santa's existence to any doubters in the future.

Darnit's parents laughed and told Hic's dad that he had pulled a good one. My parents just shook their heads and said they would have to wait a couple more years before they tried to reason with me again. How could they doubt after all the evidence? Some folks just don't have the Christmas spirit.

I haven't doubted the existence of Santa since that day. Yes Virginia there is a Santa Claus. (Who the heck is Virginia, and how did she get into this story?) Anyway, Hic, Darnit and I proved that there is a Santa when I was just a kid. I even had the pictures to prove it for many years but somehow lost them before I reached high school age.

If you hear the sounds of tiny reindeer hooves on your roof late on Christmas Eve, you'll know it's just Santa doing his yearly chores and spreading Christmas cheer. If you do hear those sounds, please turn your head and look the other way. Santa never retrieved his clothes from Hic's house, so he'll probably be delivering your presents in his long underwear. ~ AC

Merry Christmas

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