This Santa is old but he is new to our house. I spied him in the Goodwill the other evening, sitting on the floor next to a big tub of plastic toys.
First, you have to understand something about me: I am not that much for Christmas decorations, especially "cute" ones. I actually dislike "cute" toys all together. Care Bears? Forget about it. Trolls? You're getting closer. Hobgoblins? You're definitely in my territory. Three of my most prized toys are Jack, the mayor, and Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Back to Christmas: My preference is to decorate as the ingenious peoples of the Pacific Northwest did, with black crows. There is something awesome in the power of crows. In the old origin stories, crow brought back the sun and saved the Earth from eternal darkness.
So this might explain my attraction to this particular Santa; I mean, isn't he creepy? He looks like an evil Gnome in a Santa suit. So many of the toys of the late 1950s and early 1960s had this look. I think they're wonderful.
So there he was, this evil Santa, sitting in the Goodwill, so well taken care of he looks like he came straight out of some grandma's closet. He's a soft stuffed toy, about two feet tall. Looking at him, I could imagine some child many years ago, not unlike myself, carrying him around the house with pride and sleeping with him at night, dreaming of snow and compassion and goodness everywhere.
Santa didn't have a price on him. I said to a woman next to me digging in the plastic toys, "He isn't priced. Do you think he's just here for decoration?"
"That's what I thought," she said. "He's really old."
I set Santa back down and walked away. I walked past him several times, casting longing glances at him. Then Allen walked by, and I said, "Look at this Santa. Isn't he creepy?"
Allen said, "He is that. You want him, don't you?" Allen knows how much I like creepy toys.
I grabbed Santa up into my arms and said, "But I think he might just be decoration."
Allen took him and said, "He's for sale, don't worry."
We went to the check out. The women at the counter commenced oohing and ahhing. They said he'd just been put out on the floor. I started to get nervous. My creepy Santa was creating a great stir. A stranger came up to me and said, "So you're buying the Santa. I was going to get him, just so's to give him a good home."
The woman behind the cash register said, "I can't sell him to you because there's no price on him. It's a new policy. We can't sell stuff's that ain't priced."
Another woman behind the counter picked up Santa and patted his behind. She put him over her shoulder like she was going to burp him. Everybody was falling in love with my evil Santa and I could feel him slipping away.
Allen started getting unnerved. He hates it when I suffer disappointment. He asked what we could do, then. He expressed in clear language that we wanted that Santa, no matter what. The woman behind the register said the only thing we could do was come back the next morning, after he'd been priced and put back out on the floor.
"Okay, but I'm gonna be here at 9 a.m.," Allen said forcefully.
"Well, he won't be out until about 9:15," the woman said.
"Well, that means I'll be here when he goes out on the floor, won't it?" Allen said.
I could tell Allen was getting upset at the thought of Santa disappearing from my arms. He didn't like the Santa, but he knew how much I did.
Back in the truck, Santa-less, Allen and I speculated that: a. Santa would be gone the next morning, or b. the price would be exorbitant.
That night, I looked up my Santa on eBay. One just like him was going for $46.00. I slept fitfully, imagining owning my creepy Santa and also trying to prepare myself for life without him.
The next morning I stayed warm under the covers as Allen slid out of bed and into the cold and dark. It was a bad-weather day, blustery and mean.
I heard the front door close softly, and I knew Allen was out on a mission. I couldn't sleep, and lay there, waiting.
When I heard the door open, I jumped up and there Allen was, holding my Santa. "How much was he?" I asked.
"Two dollars!" Allen said.
"Two dollars! You're kidding!" There it was, the price tag.
I could hardly believe it. Neither (a) nor (b) had come true, so I felt like I'd gotten my Christmas miracle.