I was five years old when the events surrounding this story took place. My parents and I were spending the Christmas Holiday at my Grandma and Grandpa’s house. I can’t say what time it was, but if I had to put a time to it, I would have to say it was evening. All of us had to finish Christmas dinner, so let’s say it was a little after seven P.M. By that time Grandpa was liquored up and was stumbling to the couch to watch, “It’s a wonderful Life,” so he could pass out a quarter of a way through it, like he did every year.
My mom and Dad were agitated because of how juiced up Grandpa was. Mom, being the health nut that she was, nagged at my father about how bad it was for his father to drink so much. I always dreaded the ride home. They would fight about that and Grandma’s smoking habit. Dad always said that it was their choice and there was nothing anyone could do about it. Then there was Grandma. Granny Battle-Axe her other grand kids used to call her. If you’d ever met her, you would completely understand the reason for Grandpa’s drinking problem. Heck after a few hours around her, I myself was ready to hit the bottle. I really felt bad for Grandpa.
After Mom and Dad went off into the living room to watch the movie, Granny Battle-Axe and I were the only ones left at the dinner table. She was sucking down a glass of some homemade eggnog, which I never cared for (It wasn’t until I was an adult that I found out eggnog wasn’t supposed to be lumpy), and I was finishing my apple pie. I remember Granny Battle-Axe telling me she needed a smoke after finishing her lumpy eggnog and followed up by breaking wind. I could never figure out old people and why or how they could create something so foul and not market it to the military.
Anyway, she went to go have a cigarette and I finished up my pie then joined the others in the living room. I ran over to the Christmas tree and grabbed Grandpa’s present from beneath it. I wanted to have him open his gift before he passed out. I dropped the box in Grandpa’s lap yelling, “Merry Christmas!” I almost gave the poor bastard a heart attack. I’ll never forget the look he gave me as he looked down at the poorly wrapped gift. “For me?” he asked, and then waited for me to bobble my head up and down with the answer. Grandpa shook the gift a couple of times before looking back to ask if it was a new wife, because he could use a new one. He said he wasn’t picky, “Five foot seven and big cans,” that’s all Gramps needed or wanted for Christmas.
I told him no, but it was just as good. Then he asked me if it was a jar of Vaseline. I didn’t get that joke until I was a teenager. Finally Grandpa opened the box and found the Swiss army knife; I knew he liked it because of the big smile and what he said. He told me it was perfect and would have to try it out on Grandma. I didn’t get that joke either. Grandpa gave me a big hug and asked me to fetch him another beer. Now, I don’t know about you, but when you were five and an adult asked you to get their drink it was a huge honor. So I dashed into the kitchen and flung open the fridge and realized the beer was at the very top shelf. Instantly I knew this was going to be a big undertaking because I was not even five feet tall. I jumped several times, but I just could not reach the damned thing. With the last attempt I tripped and fell backward to the floor with a loud crash. I laid there with my eyes closed for a few moments until everyone came running in.
When I opened my eyes I was shocked to find everyone standing at the back door looking outside. And I was equally as startled that nothing was disturbed from the fridge. If me falling down had not make the loud noise, then what had?
I got up and walked over to the back door where the others were standing. What I saw next, I will never forget for the rest of my life.
It was a tall fat man with a long white beard dressed all in red and arguing with a reindeer. They were yelling back and forth about who’s fault it was that they landed on –Grandma! There she was underneath a sleigh, partly buried in the snow, with her feet sticking out. It kind of reminded me of the scene from the “Wizard of Oz,” when the house landed on the witch. The man, who introduced himself only as Santa, walked over to Grandpa and begged him not to call the police. It would skyrocket his sleigh insurance, and the North Pole was the only place in the world to get it so they could charge them whatever they wanted. I remember Grandpa said he understood, but something had to be done. Santa interrupted by telling Gramps he would do anything at all, to just name it. Grandpa broke a large smile and asked Santa if he knew of any five foot eight women with big cans?
Santa quickly returned the smile with one of his own.