Showbiz - Santa Claus and a Bloody Nose

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This is a long-ago tale, but I thought it might serve as an introduction here since this is how I got my handle “Showbizvet” or SBV as most say. I originally wrote this last year during the holidays, so if you've seen it elsewhere, you'll know why.

It was given to me by my mom when I was just a kid waiting up late for Santa Claus. At the time she called me her ShowBizBaby, but I amended that to ShowBizVet after I marshaled out of the USMC. Hope you enjoy the story.

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First, let me say, this is a real story, my story or more precisely the story of how my mom and dad turned fantasy into reality for one special Christmas. And while this is about Christmas, the spirit of the story crosses all boundaries of race, creed or religion. Frankly, I hold no prejudice concerning what you worship or even if you do, or what holidays you celebrate or ignore. This is purely a post I'm making about one of my childhood memories I hold dear. That said, on to the story.

My parents come from a show business background, they were both a little kooky and enjoyed looking at life from a nontraditional slant as do I.

I write this as a middle-aged adult but experienced it as a young child filled with the wonder of an approaching Christmas. In later years, my mom would tell me, "Christmas is for children," and she believed that, being one of the orchestrators of this tale.

Since they worked in the film business, they knew some of the best voice actors, sound and visual technicians in Hollywood, at least at the time. This was WAY before CGI, so there were no computer-generated effects, everything that happened was analog and occurred in real time.

Let me set the stage.

We lived in Hollywood, about a mile or two down from the Hollywood sign, and man, don't I wish I still owned the property, it would be worth a fortune in today's market. The house was English Tutor, located on Beechwood Dr and this is where a bit of magic, at least for me, took place.

It was December 24th, and I'd been pestering my parents all week about Christmas morning, I wasn't a greedy kid, but I was an only child, so yeah, I guess I was a little spoiled, but eventually I outgrew it.

Bedtime on the 24th was hard on me, I didn't want to sleep, I was too excited and begged them to let me stay up late, but that wasn't to happen. My mom saw the expectation in my eyes and allowed me one more visit to the living room where we checked the tree, smoothed the stockings, one for each of us, and for a moment quietly watched the flickering Christmas tree lights. Then we settled together into an armchair, the ambiance of the room planting subtle suggestions in my mind of the night to come and Christmas morning to follow. As I think back, I can see the twinkling lights reflecting on my mom's face as she read me, "Twas the Night Before Christmas." I didn't know then that both my mom and dad were setting the stage, allowing my imagination to run free and were gently planting suggestions of Santa. In just a few hours from that moment, those ideas would awaken in my mind as I saw, heard and experienced Santa Claus as he made his whirlwind appearance in our downstairs living room.

As she read the words with merriment in her voice and love in her heart, my eyes began to grow heavy, and she whispered, "time for bed, Santa has a busy night, and he won't come till you're asleep."

NOTE: the Complete poem can be read at…
https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43171/a-visit-from-st-nicholas

I vaguely remember riding piggyback on my dad's back, as he climbed the stairs, laying me gently on the bed, snugging up the covers and saying, "Go to sleep, it will be Christmas before you know it," and I closed my eyes in slumber.

What seemed a moment later, but was apparently hours, my dad nudged me awake saying, "I think Santa is coming." I was immediately awake, running to the window, looking into the blackness of the night. Then I saw or imagined in the distance, but moving in our direction, a sleigh being pulled by reindeer. Emotions flooded thru me; the story was real, the poem my mom had read was happening, here, now, right before my eyes.

Any illusion can be broken if you stare too long, and my dad, knowing that, said, "Quick, get back in bed, you're not supposed to be watching." And I did, but I was brimming with emotion, filled with fantasy, experiencing the moment, not in a poem, but in reality.

As I jumped into bed, pulling the covers tight, my dad whispered, "shhh, just listen." For a moment there was stillness, no sound other than my breath. Then faintly, as if in a dream, I heard distant sleigh bells. Then, moment by moment they became louder, getting closer and closer. They grew louder, seeming to gather force just above my head, beyond the attic and on our roof. Then a crescendo of sounds as the sleigh landed, reindeer stomping their hooves, sleigh dragging to a stop just feet from my head. I was spellbound, but this wasn't my imagination, my dad was right there, my mom nearby, they heard it too, but shhhing me since I could hardly contain myself. Then, I heard the voice which even today echoes in my memory, "Whoa Dancer, careful now Blixen." And then with a thud and a myriad of reverberating sounds, they came to a stop. A wonderland of amazement was happening scant feet from where I lay quietly, excitedly, wondering what was to come. Christmas was for children, my mom would say in later years, but right now I was that child she spoke of.

The story could end there, and it would still be a fantastic memory, but it continued, growing even more amazing, more real, and more memorable as I again vividly see the details.

The hoofs of the reindeer quieted, though there was still the muffled sound of their labored breathing. All was still for a moment, then came heavy footsteps moving toward our chimney. I was elevated to a realm of imagination and fantasy akin to Narnia; I knew what would happen next, Santa would come down the chimney, I didn't think about how, I didn't care about the size or space or difficulty, I was enveloped in the magic of the moment. Then I heard a groan, and a whoosh and quick as a flash I heard laughter, a hearty and bold ho, Ho, HO nearly echoing from downstairs. "Merry Christmas," came the booming voice and both my mom and dad sat next to me on the bed, both smiling, no doubt filled with their amazement as they watched me rapt with emotion.

Then, if I ever doubted for a moment that this was real, and I didn't, Santa called out my name, he knew my name and with a ho, Ho, HO he asked if I'd been a good boy.

My dad leaned in close, quickly coaching me on the words to say, "Tell him Yes" and I quickly did. "Well, ho, Ho, HO," Santa continued, "Merry Christmas, now Tim, don't you come down till morning." And my dad told me to say I wouldn’t,' and I echoed his instructions, speaking, at least in my mind and heart, directly to Santa Claus as I heard the sounds of him laying out presents around the tree and filling the stockings. Then with a sound something like tree branches scraping across bricks combined with a whoosh, I heard him ascend the chimney, arriving on the roof where the reindeer began to stomp their hoofs in expectation of their worldwide journey.

Then with a final ho, Ho, HO, he gathered his reins, and I heard the sleigh move across the roof as he urged his reindeer onward with an "Away Dancer and Prancer…" and I heard him getting further and further away till again there was only stillness.

It could be my memory playing tricks, but I remember both my mom and dad seeming to glow from within. Their magic was watching me experiencing mine. I don't know my exact words, much too long ago, but they would have been filled with amazement, I'd believed, and my dream had become a reality. They whispered to me, "go to sleep now, and we'll see you in the morning."

I have no clear memory of how long it took me to fall asleep, only the feeling of excitement as the sun broke through the windows Christmas morning. Santa had come, he'd visited me personally and KNOWING that, I knew there would be presents. With the energy and excitement of a young boy, I leaped out of bed running toward our living room. What I found was an enchanted room filled with presents, electric trains tooting around their tracks, a shiny new bike leaning on its kickstand and my parents watching me experience the fantastic treasures that lay in front of me. Of course, my memory is from my point of view, from my parent's perspective, I can only imagine the young boy in "Close Encounters of The Third Kind," whose face was filled with wonder as he saw whatever Spielberg had created for him to see and heighten his expressions. I remember reading he had someone dress up in a giant bunny costume, but I have no idea if that's true. What is true is the intensity of that experience has remained with me for a lifetime.

What I didn't realize till years later, was what went into creating my Christmas experience. As mentioned, both my mom and dad were in the film business, and years later I'd meet some of those who helped pull off the evening, sound technicians, voice actors, equipment rental and hours and hours of prep. There were stereo speakers in the attic, assigned to one channel, another set in the downstairs on the second channel. My dad and mom had choreographed the entire evening, complete with script, subtle subconscious suggestions, and a prearranged voice track, for which my dad had fed me the answers. When Santa said, "Have you been a good boy," of course, my dad knew the timing of the voice track and the answer I should give and fed me my lines. There was high-quality stereo equipment hidden, and cable runs to the attic and downstairs living room.

When my mom had read me, "Twas The Night Before Christmas," I know now, but not then, she was painting a vivid scene in my young mind, and I dare say, I did have sugarplums dancing in my head.

When my dad gently woke me, saying he thought Santa was on the way, he had moments before hit the Play button on the equipment and of course, knew the timing perfectly. I'm not sure what I saw when I looked out the window and saw the sleigh, perhaps that was purely in my mind, aided by my dad saying, "see if you can see his sleigh." The magic of course happened within my imagination, as I heard the sleigh arrive, the sound effects of Santa and the reindeer, then his sliding down the chimney and calling me by name. After I heard the sleigh, vanish into the night, and while I rested till morning, my parents were busy setting the living room stage for my morning arrival.

There may be some who'd say; my parents were wrong to create such an elaborate fantasy, but I disagree, they crafted a childhood memory that lives within me still. It would be the following year I'd learn the truth, that there was no magical being bending space and time to deliver presents to all the good boys and girls. I accepted the truth, but even then, and especially now, I so much appreciate what my mom and dad did, they let me, if only for a little while, experience the wonderment of believing.

The holidays mean different things to different people and what may be important to me, others may dismiss. That's fine, what I hope you will glean from my long-ago tale is merely this, keep a childlike lust for life and learning and may the spirit of the season be a blessing to you and yours. It matters, not you're whether you celebrate Christmas or any of the myriad other holidays around the world. I wish for each of you happiness, health and prosperity.

p.s. If you're wondering about the bloody nose I used ihe title, well that's not hype, it happened. I believed in Santa Claus so fervently, I actually got in a grade school fight when one kid said, "he's not real", and I pushed him saying, "yes he is". Doesn't detract from the memory, just makes it more vivid.

And that Builders, is how I got my handle.