Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Interviewing Santa

This piece was originally published in a similar version in Pathfinder:Guide for the Widow/er's Journey

I assumed it would be impossible to interview Santa Claus so close to Christmas. Why would he agree to talk to poor widow me? He had nothing to plug. He wasn’t starring in a movie; he hadn’t written a book and he was too lovable to run for President.

Since Santa’s toys are basic, wooden and old fashioned (similar to Melissa & Doug puzzles) I communicated the old fashioned way. I called him...from my landline. I didn’t text him because how could he text me back with those chubby fingers?

Santa, THEE Santa did call me back and not from the North Pole. He was in Macy’s Department store, THEE Macy’s on 34th Street – from THEE movie “Miracle on 34th Street.”

Santa suggested we meet in the men’s room during his bathroom break. Really Santa? That’s just creepy. He clarified. He meant the Men’s Department. He needed a new black belt. His was 150 years old. It was time. I guess elves only make toys.

Santa looked sad. I thought it was because Macy’s didn’t have a belt in his size. There was more, much more to this Christmas story.

CS: Santa, there are plenty of stores in the city. One is
    bound to have a size 92 waist with a gold buckle. Can
    you do silver?

SC: It’s not that, Sugar.

CS: You remember that my nickname was Sugar when I was a

SC: I remember everything. Is your mother still whacky?

CS: No.

SC: That’s good.

CS: She’s dead.

SC: (Santa starts to cry)

CS: It’s okay Santa. She’s at peace now and not annoying

SC: No. I’m crying because Mrs. Claus is very sick. I’m   
    afraid I may lose her.

CS: Is that possible? Aren’t you guys immortal?

SC: I thought so too. Apparently, a loophole in our
    contract. Who reads the fine print?

CS: You should give coal to lawyers and the little kids who
    will grow up to be lawyers!

SC: Carol I’m Santa Claus, not Cruella Deville. Anyway,
    Doc from the seven dwarfs warned Mrs. Claus not to eat
    so many of the cookies she bakes, but the smell...she
    can’t resist. Now she’s at risk.

CS: At risk for what?

SC: Cookieitis – Deadly. She’s beginning to have symptoms.

CS: Tell me what you’re most afraid of.

SC: What if she dies? I’ll be all alone.

CS: You have the elves and Rudolph.

SC: Your husband died and you had friends and family around
    you. Did it help?

CS: Not really, but maybe if I had elves. (laughs) Sorry.
    You’re right. I was lonely and it was scary for a long

SC: I’m terrified I won’t be jolly anymore. Kids all
    over the world are counting on me to be freakin’ jolly!

CS: You won’t be jolly for a while, but little by little
    parts of your old self will peek out.

SC: You mean first I’ll shout out “Ho!” and then the next
    week the other “Ho!” and then two days later the third

CS:  And, eventually you’ll put it together again with a
     “Ho Ho Ho!” And your ho-ing will be genuine. You’ll be

SC:  I could never be happy again without Mrs. Claus.
     Anyway, the pickings are slim up at the North Pole.

CS:  You’re a catch, Santa. You work from home at a
     seasonal business, you’re a natural with kids, and you
     drive at night!

SC:  I’m depressed. I should throw myself into my work.
     Maybe I’ll make Christmas twice a year!

CS:  Running away from life isn’t healthy, Santa...wait,
     twice a year means more presents for me! Terrific idea!

SC:  Or, I’ll close up shop.

CS:  A hasty decision. Think of the elves on Unemployment.
     Hallmark will plummet and I own stock!

SC:  I’d hate to disappoint the children, though. Don’t you
     have grandchildren?

CS:  Yes, umm, of course, the children. It’s all about the
     ummm, children. Screw Hallmark. What kind of heartless
     person worries about stock prices at a time like this?
     I was just kidding.

SC: My cheeks will never be rosy again. She pinches
    them...sometimes a little too hard, but I like it, if
    you know what I mean...

CS: I do. So it’s Mrs. Claus who puts that twinkle in your

SC: Yes, except one December 23rd when I was up against the
    deadline. We had Chinese food delivered to the
    workshop. The girl who brought it was a doll.

CS: A doll like a toy the elves make?

SC: Not quite. Let’s just say I almost put my slinky in her

CS: Santa!

SC: I said “almost.” Hey, I’m only human.

CS: No you’re not.

SC: Whatever...Ohh... Mrs. Claus is Face timing me! See?

CS: (looking into the iPad and waving) Hi Mrs. Claus. Long
    time fan, here!

SC: (to Mrs. Claus) You look wonderful, honey...And,
    healthy, like the old you! You seem full of energy
    like Rudolph did right after we got his nose to stop

    You are healthy? You’re cured? Doc said so?

    Santa spun me around and kissed me on both cheeks.
    The store’s piped in music played “White Christmas”
    and he began to sing along.

    He winked at me as only Santa could and then he
    skipped away towards the shoe department, holding his
    iPad close to his beard. I think he was kissing the

    Outside of Macy’s, the beauty of the season was unfolding.
    The first winter's snow was starting to stick right there 
    on 34th Street. Even the grownups were giddy; They were 
    gliding and stomping and loving the sound of the crunch under
    their boots.

    Did Santa singing “White Christmas” make it snow? How is 
    this possible with global warming? The temperature here in 
    New York is 70 December! It couldn't be snow! 
    Perhaps some editor was shredding my latest submission and
    tossing it from a building above me. It wouldn't be
    the first time.

    I tasted it. Nope. It was snow all right - Magical snow conjured
    up by a relieved Santa. I was thrilled to be the first person to 
    report this story, however Santa could have warned me. I was
    wearing four inch heels.

    But, hold on, I had met Santa Claus, THEE Santa Claus
    and Mrs. Claus was going to be okay and there would be
    a jolly Santa and Christmas this year!  

    Still my shoes were ruined and my hair was wet and
         Merry Freakin'Christmas!


Tuesday, December 01, 2015


A version of this post was originally published in Pathfinder: A Companion Guide for the Widow/er’s Journey
Holiday time begins with Thanksgiving. It should be mandatory for first and second year widows/ers to shout out “What do I have to be thankful for?” Go ahead. Embrace your bitterness!
While Aunts and cousins are taking turns announcing they are thankful for their husband’s promotion or for their gorgeous new home it is the perfect time to broadcast that your husband has also changed addresses. He now lives with God, a more loving roommate than you were, but not as sexy.
Loved ones never touched by tragedy will insist you have both drumsticks and all the peach pie you can eat. Enjoy because by year three your celebratory spirit will most likely kick back in. The yams with marshmallows will taste almost as sweet as when your family was in tact.
If you’re dating now and you ask the host to bring your new plus one for Thanksgiving dinner just know that this year you’ll have to concede the drumstick to Aunt Edna. Her husband died in August. She's on the front lines. You're a vet, now. And, anyway, your widow card has expired.
Even though nine Thanksgivings have passed since my husband Jimmy has, holidays spark my memories. A turkey on a platter reminds me of the year my husband proudly trotted out the turkey and in full view of everyone seated and salivating, the bird slid off the platter and splattered all over the dining room floor.
My husband picked up the turkey, put him back on the platter and on the way back to the kitchen announced, “I’ll just bring out the other turkey.” Naturally, the ‘second’ turkey was presented to the crowd already sliced. Nice job, hubby.
We tend to eat extra and with greater gusto starting on Thanksgiving and continuing straight through New Year’s. But, hold on here! We lost our spouse. Aren’t we entitled to wolf down 14 potato latkes? And, when Uncle George brings the kids a chocolate turkey so big it’s practically clucking, we have a responsibility to teach them to share, don’t we? After all, we’re the Last Grandparent Standing!
Stuffing our faces is our way of saying we are doing our best to keep up the holiday spirit. Since some of us are back on the market, though, we may resist putting on the pounds. A study from the doctors at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical center has discovered that the music we listen to while we eat may affect the weight we might gain.
They measured the energy expenditure of 20 infants born preterm while listening to Mozart in their incubator. The findings showed Mozart lowered by at least 10% the quantity of energy they used. This means the babies may have been able to increase their weight faster.
This screams out: Do not listen to Mozart! You may be in danger of looking like the ‘before’ photo. Turn on “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” even if it depresses you!
So, go ahead and have that fifth glass of eggnog. Just be sure that when you lift your glass to make a toast the background music is lowbrow, like Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer. By the way, I used to think that song was funny…until I became a Grandma.