Friday 30 Sep 2016

Santa Claus Comes to Town
Jennifer Flaten

In the middle of a long narrow aisle, I kneel amid a pile of discarded boots. I pause a moment to wipe a bead of sweat from my forehead, we have been at this for what seems like hours.

With one final shove, I get the tiny foot into the purple winter boot. I mutter a silent prayer 'please oh please let these fit'.

We have tried on almost every pair of boots on the shelf. One after another, the boots landed in the "no" pile.

We have tried, pink (too big), silver (too small), black (too boring), and green (too icky). Personally, I don't care what damn color the boot is as long as it fits. Alas, the small child does not agree with me, she finds the color of utmost importance.

After securing her foot in the boot, I instruct her to march up and down the aisle to see if the boot fits. She carefully waddles up the aisle trying hard not to fall over since her boots are still connected by the little rubber bungee.

I am positive my knees will permanently lock if I stay in this position one moment longer so I ask her with more then a little hope "Do they fit? Do you like them?"

After a moment or two of careful consideration, she tells me that she actually preferred the first pair she tried, which are now buried somewhere beneath the stack of fifty boots that lay on the floor by the bench.

I choke back a sob as I dig for the boots. The realization has just hit me-oh, god I still have two other kids to fit for boots.

Ah yes, the two remaining children, who up until this point were rampaging up and down the aisle, pulling random pair of boots off the shelf. They now stand before me, brandishing multiple pairs of boots and chanting "this one, this one, this one"

What fool spends a glorious fifty degree November day shopping for winter boots. Me, that's who. It is probably one of the last gorgeous days of fall and here I am in Dante's fifth ring of hell. The ring reserved for shopping for clothes or shoes with your kids.

I give the unseasonably warm weather as my reason for waiting until November to buy snow boots. I mean, I am a procrastinator but this is pushing it even for me. The weather just hasn't screamed, "Buy boots now or suffer the consequences"

In fact, the whole impetus for boot shopping is not fear of the snow. There's no snow forecast, yet, but it will arrive shortly. Nor is it cold or colder weather.

What sent me scrambling for winter footgear, this balmy November weekend, was the local Christmas Parade. I can't have the children turning into little popsicles on the parade route, now can I? Well, I could but Child Protective Services frowns on that so off to the shoe store we went.

This experience is as frightening as a face-to-face encounter with a clown in a dark alley. I really don't like clowns....oh come on; don't look at me like that-no one actually likes clowns.

Back to the parade, we did manage to outfit ourselves for a coldness factor of artic and set off for the parade.

We had so many supplies we practically needed a Sherpa-trust me Sir Edmund Hillary has nothing on us, we had enough gear to mount an expedition. We had blankets, chairs, sacks for candy, sacks of additional cold weather gear and snacks.

Yes, snacks. How else do you keep small children entertained for an hour in the semi cold?

We endured the 45 minutes of commercials for the local dance schools, gymnastic clubs and assorted service organizations that preceded the big event-Santa.

Trust me, all the kids want is Santa Ho Ho Ho-ing his way past them and candy. As far as the kids are concerned, each float could have dancing pigs on it as long as they tossed candy.

Santa's impending arrival smoothed the hurt feelings about this year's candy haul. It was little low. Usually, we collect enough tootsie rolls and candy canes to last until Easter. This year we got barely enough to last until Christmas.

In previous years, handfuls of candy flew from the passing floats but not this year. Perhaps, this is in direct response to the sorry state of the economy.

I mean after you spring for the magnetic sign for the side of your vehicle there probably isn't a whole lot left in the advertising budget.

There was a certain attitude at the parade; most of the participants could barely manage a smile let alone a wave.

Plus, I did notice an abundance of parade participants yammering on their cell phones while driving the parade route-kinda makes it hard to hand out candy when one hand is on the wheel and the other is pressing a cell phone to the side of your head.

Maybe Santa will put them all on the naughty list.

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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