Santa Claus’ Big American Goof Up: Essay
It all started like this. As some readers are well aware, I am one of those ardent thirty-one-year olds who still believe in Santa Claus. I wrote a letter to Santa Claus last year 2020 for books as presents for Christmas. I placed the letter in an envelope addressed to the North Pole and handed the envelope to my maternal uncle Blaise to mail the letter for me.
Now, I’ve been doing this every Christmas, and on Christmas night, I make sure I go to sleep early at midnight, which is quite early for a night owl like me. Otherwise, my usual time to sleep is between 4:00 and 5:00 am. Well, I make sure I go to sleep early in another room where the Christmas tree is not kept. I make sure not to go into the room where the Christmas tree is, and yes, when I get up on Christmas Day and go to look under the tree, I have always found my gifts, mostly books. As reported in an earlier blog post for Christmas 2020, I received fifty books from Santa Claus. Now, I don’t know about you, but I can tell you that other than Santa Claus and sometimes my maternal uncle, nobody buys me books. So, I look forward to Santa’s visits, and I was thrilled this year; until the goof up happened.
To read about the books I received, do check out my blog post ‘2020 Christmas Books from Santa Claus: Essay’ here. Well, I was happy on Christmas Day. I almost jumped on my uncle Blaise who was sleeping in the room as a sentry, just in case Santa Claus needed to visit the toilet to wash his hands or borrow a mask or something. I jumped on him, yelling how happy I was. He gets up, this uncle of mine with a little dazed kitten face as if he did not like what was happening. He just went on muttering to himself the rest of the day and counting the books that were under the tree.
“Didn’t Santa gift you more this year?” Blaise asked me at least a hundred times on Christmas Day.
“I think fifty is reasonable considering the pandemic,” I replied a hundred times, wondering what was bothering my maternal uncle Blaise. However, we watched Mass on YouTube without much ado and then went back to stuffing ourselves with bread pudding. I went back to writing my new novel, which seriously is taking the life out of me.
I completely forgot about the books, except for the one I picked to read that week, Barack Obama’s autobiography A Promised Land. It is difficult to forget that book because when I was in bed reading it on Christmas night after being filled more with bread-pudding than Lord Jesus’s spirit, I was attacked by that book. Yes, Barack Obama struck me. He punched me on the nose, well, at least the book’s spine did. My nose still aches from the punch, and there is a dent in the spine of the tome from that punch. Otherwise, Barack Obama is one of my favorite people. I have reviewed his earlier memoir titled The Audacity of Hope, which you can check out here. I have also reviewed his political manifesto titled Change We Can Believe In. But Blaise kept on mooning about the place, looking like one of Lord Jesus’ lost sheep in an iPad store. He kept asking me was it only just fifty, and I kept replying it was only fifty.
He then let it go and went back to do his teaching. We were working on Christmas Day; it was a hectic day of teaching and writing. On the 31st of December, I was tired as a road roller after a month of hard work. I have been working on my novel for the last seven months, and the characters are still not listening to me and lengthening the book to almost Game of Thrones proportions. On the 31st, the last day of the old year 2020, I was dead asleep in the afternoon. I was in the room where the Christmas tree is kept. Suddenly, in my dream, a bomb fell on Mumbai, and my 31,000 books got sunk in the Arabian Sea. Or that’s what I thought. I got up, looking around me for a lifeboat or at least a mask so that if anyone were in the lifeboat, they would not throw me overboard for not wearing a mask. To my annoyance, I saw my uncle Blaise creating bedlam with a white cloth-cum-jute bag (you can get anything when you are in India), around the Christmas tree. When I asked him ‘what the hell’ he simpered, holding up the bag for me to see: “Santa Claus, er …. made a special delivery from Iceland,” pulling out three huge books from the bag. I gaped.
They were each 700 plus pages and were the complete set of Mark Twain’s Autobiography printed by the University of California Press. They were hardcover books and huge. Volume one had a red spine, volume two a green, and volume three a blue. They were and are fresh and good clean copies. The books were printed in the year 2010 on Mark Twain’s death centenary. It was Mark Twain’s wish that his autobiography should be published in its entirety only a hundred years after his death, when nothing need be censored in the book because everything and everyone concerned would, hopefully, be dead. So, the editors and publishers published this three-volume-gem on Mark Twain’s death centenary, which I, God willing, will hopefully read in 2021.
I looked with ravenous bookish hunger as Blaise placed the three books under the Christmas tree.
“You forgot to put them under the tree on Christmas?” I asked, in a half-dazed manner, which is my state whenever I am awoken from a deep slumber. “I hope there is nothing more that you have forgotten?”
Blaise looked at me, startled. “Oh no, Santa Claus is almost sure that he has not forgotten anything now. And even if he does,” he made a gesture of surrender with his two hands placating heaven, “well then, either Santa Claus is getting old or American books have legs.”
He left, and I went back to dream about Judgment Day in my always chaotic dream state. I woke up in the evening, not fresh at all but pleased that I had the complete collection of Mark Twain’s autobiography. Santa Claus will never grow old; let’s keep it that American books have legs, shall we! As I had my evening coffee with Blaise and Mama, we were pondering that it had to be Mark Twain, the father of American literature and humorist writings, that was the cause of all the hubbub. You see, while I was still asleep on the afternoon of the 31st, Blaise and Mama were teaching in the tuition house when suddenly Blaise stumbled, literally and metaphorically, on the lost three books. He then, like an American secret agent, which even Barack Obama would be proud of, hustled his way to my room to place the books under the tree.
“What in the world are you doing?” my Mama asked him seeing him in a rush.
“I have to get home, now,” he replied in a harried voice. “I’ve remembered something I had forgotten.”
“What?” Mama asked, looking at the white cloth jute bag in his hand. “What’s in there?”
Mama is not much of a reader, so she was quite startled, wondering how even a chicken could fit in that bag, let alone the dismembered parts of a man. Blaise sutured the rent in the fabric of her thinking (sorry for the pun), explaining that Santa Claus had forgotten something and rushed off to our house, which is just a door away.
Mama and I were chuckling at the goof up the rest of the day and decided to cheer good old Blaise by heading out to do some more book browsing and shopping. I bought a few books, just twenty-four, for some weekend reading; all of them, mind you, is 500 pages plus. I hope to review or analyze them in the coming days. I’ll try to be as regular as possible. I know I’ve been very naughty and have been taking breaks, but the novel that I am writing is such a drain on my mental resources that I am becoming the ‘Insane Owl’ I pose to be. But yes, I hope to be more regular with my bookish reference blog posts in the coming days of winter.
Just this evening, we were admiring the Mark Twain book set. It is indeed, lovely. I’ve always been an American literature baby, and it will be simply beautiful to read these three tomes and get into the mind and heart of one of America’s greatest writers. Blaise was justifying Santa Claus’ goof up, saying it was because these American books are so small Santa missed them on Christmas Eve—ahem— small!
I have reviewed a few of Mark Twain’s short stories, which you can check out here. If you want to know more about my life in books and with books, you can check out my bookish memoir Scenes of a Reclusive Writer & Reader of Mumbai on my blog’s products page.
If you are interested in book reviews, book analysis, short-story analysis, poems, essays, essay analysis, and other bookish content, you can check out my blog insaneowl.com. If you are interested in purchasing my books, you can check out my blog’s products page or my author’s page on Amazon. There is a lot of good stuff to buy! Happy reading to you always!
Copyright © 2021 Fiza Pathan