"How I failed to steal Christmas

Four years ago, in these very pages, I confessed to committing attempted murder against Santa Claus when I was a kid. Because it continues to draw e-mails and inquiries from various federal agencies, I’ve decided to tell the tale again.

Think of the following story as a Hammer holiday tradition.

Now that the statute of limitations has run out, I can confess that every year from the ages of 4 to 13 I entered into a criminal conspiracy with my siblings to kidnap or assassinate Santa Claus as he made his rounds on Dec. 24.

By doing so, I would then come into possession of the Christmas presents of every child in America. I’d heard varying theories about how Santa delivered presents, all of which tried to account for 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.

Now we’d have to whack hundreds of Santas, not just one.

But this theory seemed to be disproved 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.

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.

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.

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 allocated 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 decided to skip all deliveries in Perry that year. There were gifts under the tree, but they must have come earlier than Dec. 24, because Santa would surely have been killed by us.

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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