Dealing with Santa

by J Pinsent

I can remember that first Christmas I came to the conclusion there was no real Santa Claus. It took a lot of reasoning to convince me but I finally reconciled myself to this fact of life and accepted it. I grew up next door to Jim Butler & Morley Smith, who both were older than me (1 year or thereabouts), so they had some influence on my coming to terms with this finding. Now that I knew or suspected Santa Claus was a phony, I felt there was no reason why I should let my parents know my discovery. This was information I was sure I could use to my advantage.

 My father smoked Lucky Strike cigarettes; In one of mom’s Red Book magazines there was this ad of Santa sitting back enjoying a Lucky Strike and sipping a cup of coffee , taking a break while making his Christmas delivery. My mind went into overdrive. A plan! I showed my little brother, who was 5 years younger than me, the magazine ad. I told him how pleased Santa would be, if dad left out his pack of cigarettes along with the customary glass of milk and cookies on Christmas eve.

Christmas eve, before we go to bed, my brother insists a pack of cigarettes is to be left on the coffee table along with the glass of milk and plate of cookies for Santa. Of course, I’m right there to back him up on this idea. My plan is to be first on deck in the morning to filch one of dad’s cigarettes before anyone else is up and no one will be the wiser.  I have already told the plan to my buddy Roy Rideout. He thought it was great. His father rolled his own cigarettes so he didn’t have the same opportunity as I did, plus he didn’t have a younger brother to pull off this scam. This was a “now or never” plan, my father never left his cigarette pack out unattended.

I went to sleep that night more excited about stealing one of dad’s cigarettes than I was about getting my presents. I awoke Christmas morning, out to the living room and there it was. Half a glass of milk with a half cookie eaten, proving that Santa took advantage of the treat, plus the open pack of smokes. I take one and head for the storage room. Stashed the smoke in my secret hiding place and back into the house to start at my Christmas stocking. Just in time. Mon and dad are on their way out to watch our excitement. My heart was a flutter. Would he notice the missing cigarette? He just picked up the pack and put them into his pocket. Mission accomplished.

Later that afternoon I claimed my booty from the storage shed, went over to my buddy’s house and showed him what I had.

 Our next major problem was to find a way to light up the cigarette. My father didn’t use matches to light his cigarettes. He had one of those fancy Ronson lighters. Not one of those “Yankee Zippos” as he called what the movie stars used. Matches were used in our house to light the fire in the kitchen stove and the box always was kept on a shelf in the kitchen.

There were two types of matches. Seadog, made in Sweden and Eddy’s made in Canada. Seadogs required they be ignited by striking the match against the brimstone on the matchbox. Eddy’s could be ignited by striking the match anywhere on a hard surface. You know, like  how the cowboys used to light the matches on the bottom of their boots. My father was a Seadog fan, just hated Canadian matches. An anti confederate at heart.

 So in order for me to steal a few matches, I would have to break a portion of the brimstone off the matchbox in order to ignite the match later. If I broke the matchbox , my mother or father would know something was amiss. Roy’s father used Eddy matches. His role in this adventure was to supply the matches.

How he managed this, I don’t know, but he did, and we went out behind one the buildings near by and smoked our first full cigarette. Another step towards adulthood, as we thought.

 My first Christmas without a real Santa. To be remembered



Morley & I