Santa’s 25 Days of Christmas, Day 9


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Santa chose the wine country for his ninth day of Christmas wandering. Napa specifically. He thought about France, but settled on California, because Americans, he thought, would appreciate the purple, wine country Santa suit his taylor elves had made him more than the French would.

And on this trip, he wanted to enjoy himself, so he’d had a friend, who owned a wine distributorship, set him up with four temporary jobs serving his fine wine. He was going to assist at a wine tasting and then was going to promote the wine behind three real bars. It was going to be a long night.

But he loved pubs and was looking forward to meeting the pub going public from behind a bar. He could hardly wait. The last time he tended bar was in a little out of the way place on the island of Margarita, off the northern coast of Venezuela. He was there, the bartender got sick and the owner asked did anyone know how to tend bar.

Santa raised his hand and wound up tending bar at the Margaritaville Beach Bar on Margarita Island for three weeks and he’d loved every second of it. So he could hardly wait for tonight. He going to have so much fun.

And he was still thinking about those wonderful three weeks behind that bar, when Rudy and Crew cruised on down to a small hill, which overlooked grapes, grapes and more grapes, growing under the setting sun.

Rudy put them down behind the hill, safely out of sight and Santa set out on foot for his first stop.


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He sauntered, the way only Santa can, into a wine bar called the Wine Closet, carrying a basked full of purple grapes, which really showed of his purple suit.

A girl named Heidi was hosting the wine and cheese tasting and she greeted Santa like a long lost friend.

“I’m so glad you’re here.” She was nervous. “This is my first day and I need help.”

“I think you’ll find serving free wine is about as easy a job as one can get. And it’s an awful lot of fun. Watch and you’ll see."

And for the next hour or so, Santa poured the wine while Heidi took care of  the cheese. And she brought out chocolates, too. Santa was tempted, but Mrs. Claus would have a fit if he ate any candy. Diets, he thought, they’re very drool.


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“See those three over there?” Santa pointed to a smiling, laughing trio who were drinking at a table across the room. They hadn’t tasted the wine Santa and Heidi were promoting. They were buying from the bar and from the looks of it, they were enjoying themselves.

“They look happy,” Heidi said.

“But not for much longer.” Santa crossed the room, went straight to the happy trio’s table. “Excuse me,” he said to the girl in the middle. “He’s cheating on you with your friend here. I just thought you should know, because you deserve better.”

“What?” But she wasn’t addressing santa. She was glaring fire at her boyfriend.

“My work here is done.” Santa went back to the wine tasting table. Usually he didn’t interfere, but they were about to confess and after a few minutes. The two girls would storm outside, screaming at each other and they’d both be run down and killed by a meth addicted drunk driver, who’d stolen his father’s car.

Now that wouldn’t happen.

Santa watched, satisfied he’d done good, as the girlfriend got up from the table, leaving the cheaters to enjoy each other’s company.

She came straight to Santa. “My name’s Cindy and I want to thank you.” She sighed. “How did you know?”

“I could see it in his eyes.”

“Well, you saved me a lot of heartache.” She was fighting tears.

“You’ll be fine,” Santa said. “They’ll probably get married and have seven kids, all off which will be cared for by a caring pediatrician, who will be you.”

“Really, you think?”

“If you study hard?” Santa winked and she smiled, then left.

“That was nice of you,” Heidi said.

“Yeah.” Santa grimaced as he heard the squeel of tires on pavement outside. But Cindy wasn’t fighting with her cheating friend, so she saw the car in time and managed to jump out of the way. She’d fallen and skined her knee, but she was going to be okay.

Santa didn’t know about the driver, though.


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An hour later found Santa behind the bar at Bobby’s Wine Bar. Santa had been led to believe it was a real bar. Two wine bars in one night. Well, it was Napa, after all. And if ever there was a place where wine was king, Napa was it.

“Nice suit,” Bobby said, when Santa came in. Then, “What’s with the grapes?”

“They go with the suit,” Santa said. “They’re not real.”

“No shit.” He laughed. “They look real.”

“Wax,” Santa said.

“Coulda fooled me.”

“Not if you’d’a tasted ‘em.” Santa laughed at his own joke. It’s was a bad habit of his. Then his Santa sense went off the charts.


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A pretty girl across the room was drinking an expensive Cabernet and she’d just learned her boyfriend had proposed to someone else. He’d told her by text.

Santa came up behind her and whispered into her ear, “Don’t do it. Don’t even think about it.” He reached his hand into her handbag and removed the thirty-eight. “I’ll think I’ll keep this. You’re too emotional for a gun.”

“Who are you?” she whispered. They were check to check and a calming peace like nothing she’d ever felt, radiated from his face to hers, filling her with joy.

“I’m Santa Claus.” And for the second time that night, he told a young woman that she was going to be fine.

“I am gonna be,” she said. “Thank you for stopping me from doing something stupid and ruining my life.”

“You’re welcome,” Santa said. Then, “Do you want your gun back?”

“No, you keep it. I’m finished with it.”

He knew she was going to say that, but he had to ask.


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The next stop for Santa was a real bar. And they had Corona. He didn’t believe in drinking on duty, but he’d done some good work this night, so he had a Corona, drank it out of the bottle. He was a happy Santa. And so, it seemed, was everybody in the bar. He stayed for a couple hours, severed his friend’s wine and even some mixed drinks, because the bartender was swamped.

And he had the time of his life. It was like he was back at that beach bar. Bartending, there was noting like it. He loved it. 

When it was time to leave, he didn’t wanna go. But he had one more bar to tend, so with great reluctance, he left for his last assignment.


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But when he got to bar, he found it deserted. The building was locked, but there was no such thing as a lock that could keep Santa out. So he went in with his fake grapes and left them on the bar. Because he sensed he was needed in the alley out back, and the grapes would just be in the way.

Someone had broken in the back way and had stolen some wine.

And Santa knew who. And he knew why.


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Out back, he found a young man, who’d done way too much meth and to top it off, he’d had much to much to drink. He went to the man, bent over him, touched him.

Nothing.

He put his check next to his.

Nothing.

Why wasn’t it working.

“You can’t save them all.” The thought from God chilled him to the soul.

“But this one,” Santa thought. “I need to save this one.”

“You already did,” the Big Guy thought back. “Because of you, he didn’t run down those girls. He’s a thief and an alcholic and a drug addict. But I won’t condemn him for that.” God sighed and when he sighed, you felt it. Even if you were Santa. “However, if he’d’ve killed those girls, you’d be talking to Lucifer right now and not me.”

“He deserves another chance,” Santa said as the boy reached for his stolen wine. But as he was about to pick it up, his heart stopped and he fell over dead.

“I’m sorry,” God said. “But like I said, you can’t save them all.”


Ken Douglas Wedding and Portrait Photography, 1250 Ralston Street, Reno, NV 89503 
Phone: 775 393-9529