The Santa conspiracy 

How I failed to steal Christmas

How I failed to steal Christmas
We"re in the midst of the greed season, when kids and adults all fantasize about the bounty of gifts they hope to receive at Christmas. One thing I"ve found is that Christmas-related lust for presents doesn"t seem to fade very much with age, at least for some people. This "giftlust," as I like to call it, only changes in scale. For a long time during my childhood, I wanted to come up with the ultimate Christmas scheme. If, I reasoned, I could somehow kidnap or murder Santa Claus as he made his rounds on Dec. 24, I could come into possession of every kid"s Christmas presents, not just my own. I"d heard varying theories about how Santa delivered presents, all of which tried to explain the vast amount of gifts necessary for a one-night operation versus the limited amount of space in a reindeer-driven sleigh. One theory said that Santa was just one of thousands of couriers making Christmas Eve deliveries. That would account for a large amount of gifts to be delivered in such a small amount of time. It also explained the space issue. But the theory seemed to be negated by the fact that no convoys of sleighs were seen in the skies on Christmas Eve, and the fact that no mid-air accidents were ever reported. With thousands of temporary Santas flying around, surely one of them would crash into another at some point. With so many pilots needed, the screening process would inevitably fail and a drunk-driving accident would occur. No evidence was ever found to back up this hypothesis. An alternate theory posited that, while there was only one Santa Claus, he was able to deliver so many presents because of a magic gift bag. One small bag actually contained all of the gifts children everywhere received. Even as a child, I could see limits to the plausibility of this theory. But, in the face of any plausible alternative scenario, I chose to use this as the basis for action. Conspiring with a few dozen like-minded individuals, whom I have vowed never to name, we devised a multifaceted plan to trap Santa as he flew through my Southside neighborhood. There was ample precedent for this in the entertainment of the day. Each year on television, we saw how an amateur operation by the Grinch nearly succeeded in derailing the holiday for an entire town. We could do the same while avoiding the foolish sentimentality that undid the Grinch. No emotional pleas from tear-eyed moppets would keep us from stealing Christmas. Feeling that a project of this magnitude was too important to fail, we left nothing to chance. Bear traps were set up on certain chimneys, as was poisoned grain we hoped the reindeer would eat. If it took one box of D-Con to kill a rat, surely 10 boxes would kill a reindeer, or so we hoped. The milk and cookies left behind in certain homes that year actually contained a rapid-acting poison intended to paralyze Santa long enough to allow the theft of the magic gift bag. Since we"d never seen Santa travel with armed escorts, even a small-caliber weapon could be used to rob him. One conspirator had a Daisy BB gun loaded and readied for use. If all else failed, one particularly rabid member of the conspiracy who had a fascination with fireworks invented a super-powered bottle rocket designed to drop the sleigh from the sky. Crafted with the powder from 25 bottle rockets, this was a fearsome, if somewhat unstable and dangerous, part of our arsenal. It was a fallback plan only. Besides, we were afraid not to allow this kid in on the conspiracy for fear of what he could do to us. Other methods we planned were more subtle. They included treating Santa"s milk and cookies with a powder designed to make his beard fall out. Denied this mark of vanity, Santa would surely capitulate to our demands. Little did Santa know that when he flew south of the I-465 loop, he wasn"t just hitting another Indianapolis neighborhood, he was entering a death trap. Nothing short of a military escort could save Santa. He would face attacks from the air and the ground. If his animals weren"t ensnared by our traps, the house-based offensives would catch him. Either way, all of the presents would be ours, even the ones destined for rich kids. We somehow kept the entire conspiracy a secret through mid-December. Operational details were located on a need-to-know basis. If one operative squealed to a teacher or parent, he could only expose a small part of the operation. It was foolproof, or so we thought. We took our positions on Christmas Eve. My sister stood by the fireplace with an ax she hoped would drop Santa. I had a BB gun with a scope. So what happened? Once again, we"d underestimated the ingenuity and duplicity of grown-ups. Santa completely avoided the Southside that year. None of the sentries saw even a hint of a sleigh in the sky. Obviously, someone had talked to the cops and Santa had decided to give the middle finger to everyone in Perry Township by delivering presents before Christmas Eve. There were gifts under the tree that year, but they must have come earlier than Dec. 24, because nobody could have survived the ambush we"d planned. I learned a valuable lesson that year: No matter how hard you try, the system will always be stacked against you. Santa is just smarter than you or I.

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