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
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.
first Christmas without a real Santa. To be remembered
Morley & I