Two Christmases ago I posted a poem about my having extended the Santa myth just a bit longer than I probably should have. To set up this story, I need to share that ditty once again:
'Tis the night before Christmas and up at the table,
Little Ben is a-scribbling as best as he's able,
The kids at the school have been dissin' the man,
So Ben's little mind is devising a plan.
Ben should be nestled all snug in his bed,
But questions of truthfulness buzz in his head;
He scrawls on his card stock; I bring the ink pad.
He's cleverly testing if he has been had.
The milk and the cookies have always been downed,
But now he needs proof a little more sound.
His marker, it moves with a flair and a flash,
"Lev your tum print Santa---" he ends with a dash.
Our little wise guy, so cunning so slick,
Has baited his trap for alleged Saint Nick.
Then carefully sets out the ink pad and note,
So Santa will use it (like Iraqi's all vote).
"Ben's dashing, now dancing, now prancing, and fixin'
to check if old Santa rides a sleigh that he sits in!
I say, "To bed with ya now!" [down the end of the hall]
"Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
So Ben mounts to the bunk, his bed way up high.
Then Mom and I wait for the whispers to quiet,
We've got us a ploy, but not sure if he'll buy it.
Next morning Ben's thrilled by the handsome ink blot,
But checks out each hand, looking for spots.
With nary a stain on the parenting mitts,
He exultantly cries, "There is a Saint Nick!"
Mom and I stifle our dance in the zone,
(lest high-fives now possibly make our sin known:
With a wink of my eye and a nod of her head,
Without overt lying, we've once more misled).
A year then has past and (kids getting pubescent)
I figure it's high time that I get confessant.
I lay out the truth as plain as you come,
Answers Ben back: "How 'bout the print of the thumb?"
"Didn't check my toes, didja?" I humbly admit.
Ben looks at me hard, then utters, "Aw ... shux!"
But he heard me exclaim, ere he walked out of sight,
"Merry Christmas to y'all, and to y'all a good-night."
So now, here's the reason for that poetic interlude:
I'd just shoved the key into the lock when I heard the phone ringing. We'd had a wonderful three-day visit with that amazing bundle of energy and imagination who is our three-year-old granddaughter, but we (having hugged the darling goodbye and completed our four-hour drive home) were thankful to be home. Again the phone screamed for attention, so I quickly pushed the door open, stepped to the nearest phone, grabbed the receiver and handed it to my social secretary.
Oh hi Ben! We just walked in -- are you ready to go to supper?
Where did you work today?
So how long do you figure it'll take you to drive back from ... ? Wow!!! Someone went and painted the living room and kitchen while we were gone!
By this point even I had started smelling the latex fumes and begun marveling at the dazzling brilliance that was so recently the patched ceiling (which I'd re-textured more than a year ago). I got on the phone and started quizzing Ben about how he could have accomplished all this in short time we'd been gone.
Then after we said goodbye to our youngest son, I spotted the note on the kitchen counter: