Everyone knows Santa is careful, but no one knew just how careful. He’s Obsessive-Compulsive Santa!
The reindeer? Fed. The elves? Cleaning. Mrs. Claus? Fast asleep, probably thanks to the spiked eggnog. Now for the list.
“Anastasio, Anderson, Angelo…” No Angel? Wasn’t there an Angel last year? When you copied over the names onto the special list paper, you could’ve missed it. Or it could just be that you’ve been watching a lot of Criss Angel: Mindfreak lately. But now that it’s in your head, you better make sure. Pull up the Google Doc — the definitive one. Not “List – final,” not “List – final ver. 2,” and definitely not “List – final FINAL.” Here it is: “List – final FINAL — THIS IS THE LIST.”
“Becker, Behringer, Beltran…” Beltran. You remembered to put your belt through each of those two loops that are real close together in the back of your suit, right? A mirror won’t do. You have to feel it go through them. There. Now touch the prong to each of the notches, counting out loud as you go. One, two, three — nope, it went through that one a little bit. One, two, three, and four. Wait, why did you say “and”? That’s not a number. One, two, three, four.
That’s snug. Much more than last year. But two is too loose, and three is a prime number, and you want nothing to do with Amazon, not after they’ve taken so much of your business. Four it is.
“Hernandez, Hill, Ho…” That last one could mess up the cadence of your favorite phrase. Underline it and write, “Unrelated to your jolly exclamation.” No. The spelling is the same, obviously. So it can’t be totally unrelated. Put, “Unrelated to your jolly exclamation (except for the spelling).”
What about the pronunciation, though? You put the same “w” sound on the end of it. But you’re not a native speaker. They might use a short “o” that cuts off. But would that necessarily make your way wrong? When you get there, should you wake them up and ask them? No, don’t be ridiculous. This list is for your eyes only. Write, “Unrelated to your jolly exclamation (perhaps except for the pronunciation [assuming you’re the speaker], and definitely except for the spelling).” That’s clear.
You’ll have to write small. Clean your glasses first. Is that a speck? Or a scratch? Or is it snow? Oh, it’s just one of those eye floaters. That’s easy. Just take your glasses off and count your next 11 blinks — 11 because there’s one eye on each side of your face.
Remember: you’re past that incident where that disgruntled elf called you “four eyes,” and then you spent the rest of the day thinking about whether to count to 22 blinks. You’re past it. You’re past it. You don’t have four eyes. You have two eyes. 11 blinks it is. 11.
Keep your glasses out of sight when you count, though. Just to be safe.
“Kline, Kluber, Knott…” Is the sack of presents tied tight enough? Better quadruple knot it, just like with your boots. And with the noose you made for the Abominable Snowman that one year before he escaped.
The rope isn’t long enough. Untie the whole thing. You can see inside now, so make sure no thin, light gifts near the top tumble out. Be careful. The opening is at an angle. Whatever you do, don’t put your hand in there and touch anything, because that’s the first step in taking something out. Knot one, done. Pull it tight. But not too tight. Just a moderate amount of tightness. Knot two, done. No — uneven loops. There. Knot three, done. Knot four, done.
You sure nothing fell out? What about the recorder for the O’Leary house in Ohio? Check the ground. Wow, a lot of recorder-shaped things in the snow. These are just icicles, though. So far these are just icicles. Keep looking. Well, no recorder, but enough icicles to munch on to help drown out the sound of one.
“Macdonald, McCallister, McConaughey.” That “y” is smudged. Cross the name out and then write it again, in that order. Because if you write it again first, that would mean there are two McConaughey houses.
“M-C-C-O-N…” How’s it spelled? Pull up the Google Doc again. Darn, cold fingers. You opened “Clockwise vs. Counterclockwise Eating Guide for Selected Cookie Flavors” instead. Close that. Here you go. “A-U…” Remember not to say silent letters out loud. G. Good. “H-E-Y.” Alright.
“Zamaro, Zeller, Zielinski.” Polish name. Did you polish the sleigh bells well enough yesterday? Once more won’t hurt. Give that can a shake. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine — one for each reindeer. But when you dropped it a moment ago, did that count as a shake? Even though you didn’t shake it, the contents of the can don’t know that. They got shaken just the same. Well, not exactly the same. But not each shake is exactly the same, either. Drop it again to balance it out.
Uh-oh. Is the expiration date really Christmas Day? How safe is this going to be? In some time zones you’ll be okay because it’s still the 24th. In others where it isn’t, you won’t be. But you’re at the North Pole, which is all of them — and none of them — at once!
You could see if there’s another can inside, but that would mean unlocking, opening, closing, opening again, closing again, and re-locking the door. And the key is already in your pocket, perfectly aligned with the key to the Red Ryder carbine action 200-shot range model air rifle warehouse. Better leave the bells alone.
That does it for the list. Fold the top over the bottom with your right hand. Left side over right side with your left. Press down on it once with your left. Good. Now, to make an equal number of touches per hand, pick it up with your right hand and slide it gently into the inner pocket of your jacket.
What’s this? There’s something else in here. It’s a note from Mrs. Claus:
“I know it can be very difficult at times, but you’re doing so, so great. Have a fantastic evening. Everything is okay. Love you!”
“P.S. Can you pick up some milk while you’re out?”
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