I know you are probably quite surprised at reading this, as I am being so proactive and thinking about shopping prior to my typical shopping spree usually held on the night before Christmas.
Well not really. Since my sister and myself disagree on almost everything in life, you can well imagine how long this pain-staking process actually takes, so we have started our talks early enough so by the 24th we may have a vague idea that we both agree on (in principle) as to actually what to buy!
As our negotiations were continuing, I noticed that my 8-year-old nephew Mikey was in a really bad mood this evening, so I asked Sis what was up.
"He got into a fight with his best friend Tony" Sis replied, raising her voice so Mikey could hear. "And now they aren't even talking. But he better smarten up quick and get his hockey bag ready as Grandpa will be here shortly to take you to your hockey game."
"Why are you fighting with your best friend, Mikey?" I asked kneeling down to help him put his gear in the bag.
"Because Tony is stupid." Mikey responded, in a very 'matter of fact' tone. "He says Santa Claus is black, just because Tony is and that all those movies and pictures showing him as a old white man are wrong. Even his Dad told him that, he said."
I quickly finished putting his equipment in the bag and zipped in up, hoping that he would not ask me the obvious. But of course, he did.
"So uncle" Mikey began, looking up at me. "Santa is white, right ? Everyone knows that. He's not black is he?"
I really didn't have a clue how to even begin to respond to this question. I was completely stumped and was actually considering faking a quick heart attack in order just to get out of answering my 8-year-old nephews question.
"Uh, Umm" I began, stumbling over my words. "You know Mikey, that is a good question. A very good question.... Now I think of it, I really don't know."
I then looked over at my sister, hoping for a little help in answering her childs question. But she just stood there, completely useless. She had that stupid blank look on her face, the usual one she is known so well for.
The silence in the room was deafening. Finally, I realized that I had to respond with something.
"Well I must admit, I would be a little nervous if I saw a black man on my roof in the middle of the night carrying a large bag and peering down my chimney. HAHA." I blurted out, having absolutely no idea what else to say but a bad joke.
Mikey just stood there silently, waiting for me to get around to his question.
Sis then finally spoke up, but not in a nice way.
"You're an idiot" She said looking over at me. "Would you feel any better if it was an old white dude on the roof? I doubt it. Anyway, you would never know. Aren't you usually passed out by midnight?"
She then looked over at Mikey and replied.
"I already told you Mikey that it doesn't matter what colour a person is on the outside. It's on the inside that counts. You should know that by now."
But Mikey was not going to be put off without a proper answer to his question. He had a very determined look on his face.
"So neither of you know what colour Santa is, right?" He asked staring at both of us, waiting for a response that was not coming anytime soon.
"That's ok" Mikey finally responded. "I'll ask Grandpa, he knows everything."
Both my sister and myself looked at each other briefly, we each had the same look of horror in our eyes. Asking our father such a question was never a good idea. The randomness and bluntness of some of his responses, especially to these kinds of questions, was strongly discouraged to say the least.
Before we could gently suggest to Mikey not to bother his Grandpa with such a question, the back door suddenly flew open and in walked my father.
"Hmmm, the whole bloody family looks like they're here. Is your old mother hiding in one of the back rooms as well?" Dad blurted out, cackling aloud.
"Hi Grandpa" Mikey yelled out. "I'm all ready to go."
"Great Mikey." Dad responded. "Let's get going. We don't want to interrupt the 'Meeting of the minds' that is going on here in the kitchen. My head hurts just looking
at those two."
And with that, Dad cackled once again at his own joke and then picked up Mikey's hockey bag and they both disappeared into the night, leaving Sis and myself to just shake our heads over his usual comments.
That was pretty much the end of things until last Sunday when we were all over at my folks place for the regular family dinner. I noticed Mikey was in much better spirits and he had told me that he had gone to a movie that afternoon with his 'best friend' Tony.
"So you guys aren't fighting anymore about the colour of Santa Claus?" I asked.
"Nope" Mikey responded. "Grandpa explained everything to me last week. He is the smartest man in the world."
"That guy?" I asked incredulously, gesturing with my thumb over to my father who was out of earshot & sitting in front of the TV, shaking his fist and yelling "Damn Commies" at the newsman on the screen."
"What did he tell you?" I asked, as both Sis and myself moved our chairs closer to hear what horrible things he had undoubtedly been told by our Dad.
Mikey seemed to enjoy having this unexpected audience and our undivided attention. He too also pulled his chair closer to both of ours and then lowered his voice, clearly for dramatic effect.
"Well it is a mystery to everyone." Mikey began. "Grandpa said that because Santa needs to go all over the world in only one night, he has to move so fast that no one has ever even seen him for real. He drops off his presents at each house faster than light. And because he goes to all the countries in the world, he is also called different names than Santa Claus too. Where Grandpa is from in Scotland, they called him Father Christmas when Grandpa was a little boy. Let me show you."
Mikey than stood up and then gesturing for us to follow him, he headed towards my Dad's office where the computer is.
He went to the web page of Wikipedia for Santa Claus that showed the history and different names for Santa around the world. You can see it HERE
"So because he goes all over the world so fast and gives presents to all the kids in all countries, everyone thinks he looks like them." Mikey continued, sounding like a university professor. "So really he is not just one colour but every colour. Grandpa taught me that."
Both Sis and myself were speechless at the wisdom that Mikey now possessed. We were both shocked & surprised at what our father had taught him.
After Mikey left the room to go help my Mom with setting the table for dinner, Sis looked over at me.
"I never thought Dad would give Mikey such a sweet and modern response to his question." Sis observed.
"I never thought Dad even knew what a Wiki was." I responded. "He surprises me more and more each day."
"Mom says he was swearing & fighting with the toaster this morning for a half an hour, trying to get his Pop Tart out of it. She thinks he broke it." Sis replied.
"Yeah, maybe he doesn't surprise me that much." I responded laughing. "That's more like the Dad we know."