David Ozab is a Eugene, Oregon, freelance writer; and his blog is one of the few I keep up with during these busy holiday months. David introduced me to the hilarious Glove and Boots video blog posts, and his spoof on tiger moms was recently published in Australia’s Mother & Baby magazine.
David’s writing has a knack for capturing the subtle soul of everyday life. You’ll enjoy reading about his daughter Anna and her diagnosis of childhood apraxia of speech here. But in the meantime, I’m happy to welcome David to Momsicle to give us some holiday cheer.
Santa’s Excellent Return Policy
“It’s Christmas! It’s Christmas!”
Anna’s excited voice woke us both up. She stood at our bedroom door, grinning and jumping up and down with excitement, her long brown hair half in her face.
“Time to get up! It’s Christmas!”
Normally, we need to go in her room and wake her each morning, but Christmas is the one day that a five-year-old is guaranteed to be up before anyone.
“We’re coming, Anna,” my wife Julia said as she sat up and gave me a nudge. “You’re coming too.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, okay.”
I staggered out of bed—I’ve never been a morning person—and headed straight for the coffee pot that I programmed the night before. Anna beat both of us to the kitchen and caught sight of the empty plate and glass on the counter.
“Santa came! Santa came!”
“Sure looks like it,” Julia said.
“He ate the cookies and drank the milk, and the carrot for the reindeer is gone too!”
I took a sip of coffee. “So what did he bring you, Anna?”
She ran excitedly into the living room, skidding to a sudden stop as she saw the pile of wrapped presents that weren’t there when she went to bed last night.
“Let me get my video camera,” I said, “and you can start unwrapping.”
“Hurry, Dad! I want to see what Santa brought.”
“I’m sure he got you everything you asked for,” Julia added.
Julia helps Anna with her list each year. In the past, she wrote down what Anna wanted, but this year Anna wanted to make her own list. Not quite ready to write yet, she cut pictures out of a toy catalogue and glued them to a sheet of purple paper—Anna’s favorite color.
She picked out four pictures on her list: a toddler Tiana doll, a set of fairies, an electronic toy dog named Cookie, and a new Curious George video. Underneath the pictures, Julia wrote down some other gift ideas:
I like princesses.
I like fairies.
I like Pumba from The Lion King.
Then, a couple of weeks before Christmas, we visited Santa at our local mall. Anna waited patiently in line until it was her turn to sit in his lap. She’s never been shy.
“Hi Santa, I’m Anna.”
“Hello, Anna.” Santa said.
“Here’s my list.”
“Ah, right down to business. Have you been a good girl this year?”
“Mostly,” I said under my breath. Julia smiled.
“And you made this list yourself?” Santa asked. “You’re very talented.”
“Yes, I know.”
“And very humble,” I added.
Santa chuckled. “Well, I think you’ve been a very good girl this year. Can I keep this?”
“Do you mind if we scan a copy?” Julia asked. “So we can keep the original.”
“Of course, just give it to my elf and she’ll take care of it. You did such a nice job on this list. It’s definitely worth keeping.”
Before she climbed down, she gave Santa a kiss on the cheek.
“Love you, Santa.”
“I love you too, Anna.”
Santa brought her everything she asked for. Just like he said he would. The four gifts on her list, plus a flying Tinkerbell, a set of princess lip glosses, and a talking, burping, and farting Pumba.
She tilted his tail. PFFFRRT!!!
She laughed uproariously, and tilted his tail again. PFFFRRRRT!!!
“How long until that gets annoying?” I wondered aloud.
“Gets?” Julia asked.
It was a magical morning. Anna loved all her gifts. But there was one problem. Cookie—the toy dog—didn’t work. Would Christmas be ruined?
Because, as I explained to Anna, “Santa Claus has an excellent return policy.”
“First stop,” Julia said. “Santa’s webpage.”
“Santa has a webpage?” Anna asked.
“Everyone has a webpage.” Julia replied as she sat at her computer desk and started typing.
“The elves do almost everything on computer now.” I added. “Remember how we scanned your list?”
“Oh yeah!” Anna answered.
“Well now we have a receipt.” Julia said, turning to take it off the printer. “This one’s for our local Toys R Us so we can trade in our Cookie there for a new one.”
Anna pouted “What happens to the old Cookie?” she asked. “Will she be okay?”
“Oh they’ll fix her,” Julia said.
“You remember the Island of Misfit Toys?” I asked. We’d watched Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer a few days earlier. “Well that is Santa’s repair shop now.”
“Really?” Anna climbed up on my lap, fascinated.
“Really. The elves don’t make as many toys as they used to since kids mostly want stuff they see in stores. Instead, they spend most of the time on a special computer network that connects Santa to toy manufacturers all over the world. It’s more efficient, but the workmanship isn’t as good as it used to be so the toys break more often.”
“Oh no!” Anna said.
“But the elves are still handy enough to fix them,” I added.
Julia slipped out of the room smiling. She knew I had the situation under control.
“That sounds like hard work,” Anna said.
“It is,” I said. “But the elves are union so they get paid well. Plus excellent benefits.”
“Benefits?” Anna asked.
“Like dental.” I replied. “You remember Hermie the elf?”
“Yeah. He’s a dentist!” Anna said.
“That’s right.” I said. “They get a nice salary, a month off in the spring, and a visit from Hermie to check their teeth every six months.”
“To make sure they brush and floss!” Anna added.
So on the day after Christmas, we took our old Cookie to the local Toys R Us, but they were sold out. She was a very popular dog that year. Next, we called around. It took about a week, but Santa finally tracked one down for us in a store about a hundred miles or so away. Julia made sure that the elves checked her out before they shipped her to us. We didn’t want another defective one.
The new Cookie arrived one weekday afternoon in early January, while Anna was in her kindergarten class. I freed Cookie from her packaging—not an easy feat—and tried her out. She barked, she wagged her tail, she turned her head, and she begged for her toy. Perfect. I set her on Anna’s bed before I drove over to her school to pick her up.
I didn’t say a word the whole drive home.
She walked into the house, dropped off her backpack, and headed straight for her room.
“It’s Cookie! She’s here!”
“See I told you we’d get a new one,” I said as I walked into the room behind her.
“Did Santa bring him?” She asked.
“No, it was a delivery guy.”
“Do you think he was an elf?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” I said. “But he did have pointed ears.”