SANDY CLAWS (An Adult Xmas Tale)

12 Dec

Do you know what I discovered a long time ago? I don’t believe in Santa—never did as far as I can tell because he never came to my piss-poor neighborhood on Christmas Eve. He was such a foreign entity that for years I misspoke his name and thought it was “Sandy Claws.” The first time I ran into a rather inebriated, raggedy white Santa was at an orphan charity event in an enormous warehouse with hundreds of other foster kids, and even though I asked for a father Sandy Claws gave me a used handbag. Of course, there was a good chance that most of the kids in that warehouse were asking for the same thing, and Santa might have run out of fathers by the time he got to me. Just sayin’—to be fair.

Santa Loves Rich Kids More Meme

I never taught my children to believe in Santa Claus. First of all, we lived in Israel the first few years of their lives, and it seemed an unnecessary burden to saddle little kids with the concept of a fictional character laden with presents, who would come to our house but didn’t bother going to the houses of our Israeli neighbors. Besides, my kids were already shouldering the burden of believing in Jesus—the Son of God—born to a virgin and a carpenter just a few miles south of their home town. Also, my husband and I had worked our asses off for the gifts we gave them and felt the hero worship should flow back to their very caring and loving parents who were sacrificing on a daily basis to give them a wonderful life.

Consequently, my only grandson doesn’t believe in Santa Claus because my daughters chose to follow my lead. But his grandfather, my husband (WW), believed in SC until he was twelve years old. (For my Johnny-come-lately readers, my husband is white and grew up in a very white, very middle-class, and very Norman Rockwell household and neighborhood. Santa was practically a god in their home, and he went to every house in the town except for the poor black children and the Jews—at first. But then many of the Jews in the town, who were very wealthy, got pressured by their kids to add a Christmas tree during Chanukah and introduce Santa along with the menorah (much to the chagrin of the local rabbi), so that they could keep up with the Goyim. The poor little black kids in the town, on the other hand, didn’t have parents with enough money to get a nod from white Santa, soooo “bupkis mit kuduchas” which is Yiddish for “shivering shit balls!”) When my husband accidentally found out that Santa didn’t exist, he had already exorcised the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny from his heart, and God got the boot shortly afterwards. His twelve-year-old theory was “if the parents lied to me about Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny, why should I believe them about God?” Good point.

Santa Disappoints Bizarro

Cartoon by Dan Piraro:

My six-year-old grandson didn’t need to be told there wasn’t a Santa. He figured it out almost from the beginning of his travels on Earth and has been taking his requests to the Big Guy ever since. Because all of his prayers to date have been answered except for one (can’t share his one unanswered prayer—he asked me to keep it confidential), Little Dude is quite confident in his knowledge and faith of God. (One Christmas, when he was five years old, he stuck a declarative Post-it note on my refrigerator like Martin Luther did on the Wittenberg Door which read: “I love Gob.” I didn’t bother to point out his backward “d” and he didn’t bother to tell me why he wrote the note and posted it on my refrigerator. It’s still there to help me through my bouts of daily doubts.)

Me-Maw’s boy thinks it’s a very cool concept that God found a way to infuse the Earth with his presence by slipping in incognito as a baby through a mommy named Mary. Unlike it does to most adults, this makes perfectly good sense to Little Dude, because mommies are just about the coolest things on Earth (“except when they take things much too seriously,” as he has been heard to pontificate on occasion). And if you asked him why Jesus decided to introduce himself to the Earth in such an inauspicious way as a baby, he’d probably answer: “Why not?”

God Come Down to Earth Bill Day Cagle Cartoons

Cartoon Used by Permission: Bill Day, Cagle Cartoons

Quite recently my grandson revealed his thought process as to the gift-giving system he is sure that God has set up between Himself and mankind. Ever since Little Dude was a baby he has traveled underground on the subway, above ground on the bus, or occasionally taken taxis to his various destinations. It soon became apparent to him that taxis were the preferred method of getting from point A to point B, especially after getting stuck at eye level in a sea of adult asses—barely able to breathe—squishing him during rush hour as he waited for the next train to pull into the station. He hated the subway with a passion and would throw a hissy fit every time he had to descend the underground stairway. His final outcry to God to send his family a car had to have been when he ran face first into a subway tunnel pole (almost knocking him out cold) while trying to keep up with his mom as they ran to catch the train home from school.

Fast forward six months after Little Dude’s “kissing-the-subway-pole incident,” and my grandson can be seen comfortably perched in the car seat/backseat of his new family car that he has made no bones about letting people know he asked God for. He is languidly sipping from a strawberry/banana juice box, snacking on chicken nuggets, and reading his latest National Geographic Kids Magazine (did I forget to mention that he’s brilliant?).  His mommy breaks his concentration by uttering a “soto voce” prayer that is often heard on the lips of city drivers: “Oh God, please give me a parking space.”  She has been driving around and around for twenty minutes in NYC trying to find a place that is within at least a half-mile of their apartment. (As most city dwellers know, getting a decent parking place can mean the difference between only having to carry several bags of groceries and your child a few yards to your home or getting towed and spending a king’s ransom to retrieve your car.) But as my daughter reiterates her frustrated plea to the God of the Universe a little bit louder and more urgently, Little Dude decides to set the record straight as to how God answers human prayer requests for gifts:

“That’s not how God works, Mom. He’s not gonna answer that prayer.

He’ll give you a car, but he won’t find you a parking space.

You’re pretty much on your own with that one.”

Christmas Wish White Priviledge David Fitzsimmons The Arizona Star

Cartoon Used by Permission: David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star

When Little Dude comes for Christmas maybe we’ll have a chat about his assurance of God and his lack of belief in Santa—“out of the mouths of babes” and all. I’m fascinated by his childlike faith. As an old fart, mine is a bit jaded. I get why he doesn’t believe in Santa—what can a fat ol’ white man in a red suit do to answer my primary Christmas request that no amount of money can buy: Peace on Earth?  I need a real source of power, but God doesn’t seem to be responding yet, no matter how hard I pray. Can’t He see we’re not getting any better, no matter how much technically smarter we become?

I will tell my grandson that my faith is strong as to the “why” of God’s great reveal through the Baby Jesus: hope.  (If one strips away all of the horrid Christian misrepresentations through the years of who Jesus is and whom he loves (all-powerful and loves everybody)—the poor, the disenfranchised, the lonely, the broken, the misunderstood, the battered, the abused, the raped—both men and women alike, the hope that the baby born in a manger brought and brings to Earth is revolutionary. What I am most hurt over and where my faith is wavering is regarding peace on Earth: peace in Ferguson, peace in the Middle East, peace amongst the races, peace among the nations of the Earth, peace for women enslaved in backward countries, and peace in individual households. Peace—that is the Christmas gift I want God to give to the Earth this holiday season. Maybe my grandson will say that God won’t answer that prayer because he gave us the Earth as a gift, but we’ll have to work out peace between each other on our own.

Christmas Peace in Ferguson Bob Englehart The Hartford Courant

Cartoon Used by Permission: Bob Englehart, The Hartford Courant


I am discovering that I am going to take a break from blogging until the New Year in order to spend some splendid time with my family (and my delightful grandson) who are coming from far and near following the “star” called home. We shall spend time together cherishing one another, eating and drinking too much, playing games, seeing theatrical shows, going to museums, and exchanging copious gifts. We’ll sing Christmas carols starting with my favorite: “Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me.” But the greatest gift that we will give each other this Christmas that Jesus gave to the entire world is love.

Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year!

From the Tomczyk household to you and yours.

Peace on Earth IV  Parker Florida Today

Cartoon Used by Permission: Jeff Parker, Florida Today

“I never believed in Santa Claus because I knew no white dude would come into my neighborhood after dark.”—Dick Gregory

“No matter what, I always make it home for Christmas. I love to go to my Tennessee Mountain Home and invite all of my nieces and nephews and their spouses and kids and do what we all like to do – eat, laugh, trade presents and just enjoy each other… and sometimes I even dress up like Santa Claus!”—Dolly Parton

“We have domesticated God’s transcendence. We often learn about God at about the same time as we are learning about Santa Claus; but our ideas about Santa Claus change, mature and become more nuanced, whereas our ideas of God can remain at a rather infantile level.”Karen Armstrong

“I ain’t here to argue about his facial features. Or here to convert atheists into believers. I’m just trying to say the way school need teachers, the way Kathie Lee needed Regis, that’s the way I need Jesus.”—Kanye West

“God of peace, bring your peace to our violent world: peace in the hearts of all men and women and peace among the nations of the Earth.”—Pope Benedict XVI


Reason for the Season Cardow The Ottawa Citizen

Cartoon Used by Permission: Cardow, The Ottawa Citizen




Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eleanor Tomczyk and “How the Hell Did I End Up Here?” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



Posted by on December 12, 2014 in Uncategorized


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32 responses to “SANDY CLAWS (An Adult Xmas Tale)

  1. calvin

    December 12, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    What the heck, Eleanor. It would appear from here, your silent prayers for peace on earth have been answered. A loving husband, adoring children and a cute as a button pint size Mahatma-like grandson. It doesn’t get much better then that my mother would tell ya as she tells me -the peace from Love. Thanks for putting it all into perspective Eleanor. Merry Christmas and Shtufffs to you and yours as well.

    • etomczyk

      December 13, 2014 at 3:24 pm

      Hi Calvin. Yes, all things considered, I have been granted the gift of peace–not only from my childhood but the hurdles of adulthood and parenthood. I am truly grateful and start each day with thanksgiving for that blessing! But when I think of the world my grandson will grow up in, I do long for that peace to extend around the world so that wherever he travels, along with all the other children of the world, he would know that peaceful existence. Am I being greedy? Have a great Christmas and an adventurous New Year, my friend. Hope to see you writing in 2015.

      • calvin

        December 13, 2014 at 10:12 pm

        Could be greedy, if benevolence could ever be self-serving. The ideal of peace is just that, the evolution to that beautiful end will come through perseverance of generations. Frank ends his posts with a quote by Garrison Keillor, ‘Be well, do good work’. Which I take as, find peace in yourself , to be whole. Then pay it forward. We all are part of the solution, a small piece in a greater picture, and it is unclear to us no matter if one is rich or poor, functional or broken as we stumble and dance through it all. As we think in terms of life times instead of beyond our life. So no, wanting for your grandson is not Greedy, as you do good work for him and others.

      • etomczyk

        December 13, 2014 at 11:47 pm

        Calvin: Amen and amen! 🙂

  2. davidjhovsepian

    December 13, 2014 at 1:27 am

    Your gonna take a break? Your on a roll. Well your grandson sounds pretty special. I hope you get some new ideas while your away spending time with the family.

  3. davidjhovsepian

    December 13, 2014 at 1:28 am

    It’ll be tough be I’ll be waiting till after new years for some more stories. You paint such an amazing portrait of your family I have to say. 😉

    • etomczyk

      December 13, 2014 at 3:31 pm

      David. Thanks for both your comments! Yep, I need a break (I’m in the midst of writing my second book and hope to publish in the early spring, so I am pretty wiped out creatively speaking). My family tends to infuse me and they always give me lots of story fodder–if they let me talk about it that is. I am forbidden to talk about quite a few topics these days. 🙂

      Hope your holidays are full of joy and grace. See you next year!

  4. Fumon

    December 13, 2014 at 4:50 am

    Hey, that’s an easy one (even for a Buddhist monk): EVERY child comes into the world as a bundle of Hope. It’s up to the parents to decide whether or not that bundle is worth the sacrifice needed to allow that hope to blossom.

    So far, not so much. But wait a minute — here comes another bundle of Hope!

  5. Valentine Logar

    December 13, 2014 at 7:11 am

    You lift me up. Truly you simply lift me up and I did so need that. Have a wonderful Christmas with your family and see you in the New Year.

    • etomczyk

      December 16, 2014 at 7:33 pm

      Val. I don’t think I responded to your comment (or somehow it disappeared). Anyway, thank you so much for your comment. It is the reason I write this blog. May you have a wonderful Christmas as well. Hope it is full of joy and much laughter–you deserve it. All the best, my friend, and a very Happy New Year!

  6. aFrankAngle

    December 13, 2014 at 7:47 am

    Alright, alright … I see your point about Sandy. Besides, your Grandson is right because Christmas is about our God and the present that turned into a greater gift. But for me, I still come to believe in Sandy because I see his goodness as one that reaches across cultures.

    Merry Christmas E-Tom, WW, and the rest of your family.

    • etomczyk

      December 13, 2014 at 3:37 pm

      Hi Frank. Merry Christmas to you and Mrs. A. Hope your new place is all settled and ready for the holiday parties.

      I’ll drop by your blog soon to see what type of delightful Christmas bell music you have posted. Hoping your choir did a Christmas program this year. Have a joy-filled and glorious Christmas, my friend.

      • aFrankAngle

        December 13, 2014 at 3:49 pm

        Like anything, condo living has pluses and minuses … but overall, a plus for us!

        Meanwhile, the holiday party is underway! … entertainment & gifts!!!!

      • etomczyk

        December 13, 2014 at 3:54 pm

        We’re going for a free-standing house in a completely different town. WW can’t see himself in a condo. Are we fools? We’ll see. At least the area is exquisite where we’re moving, but the thought of getting to know people all over again is a little bit daunting. Oh well, life is nothing if not a grand adventure. Party on, Dude!

  7. Joanne Smyth

    December 13, 2014 at 9:07 am

    Way to go, Eleanor… I loved it.

    Your grandson is amazing.

    Love, *** Joanne

  8. momshieb

    December 13, 2014 at 9:15 am

    Wishing you and yours a peaceful, joyful Christmas! Extra hugs to Little Dude, who sounds like a fabulous kid.

    • etomczyk

      December 13, 2014 at 3:44 pm

      Hey Moms. So glad you stopped by. Can’t believe you even want to come near a computer after the completion of your massive writing project. So proud of you! I’ll drop by to catch up on your posts and comment as soon as I can discipline myself to get to my own deadline (halfway through) of my second book. (I think the hardest part of writing is the loneliness of it all–I’d much rather be playing and drinking wine.) 🙂

      Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a joyful New Year!

      • momshieb

        December 13, 2014 at 5:46 pm

        Well maybe we should connect on line so we can write/play/drink wine all at once!

  9. imagesbytdashfield

    December 13, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    Have fun with the grandson and Merry Christmas to you and yours 🙂

    • etomczyk

      December 13, 2014 at 3:45 pm

      TD: Same to you, my friend!

  10. talesfromthemotherland

    December 13, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    An especially beautiful, and touching post Eleanor. I know you know it, but your grandson is wise and lovely soul! Good for you, taking the time to enjoy him and your family. Happy holidays!

    • etomczyk

      December 13, 2014 at 3:51 pm

      Hi Dawn. Thanks so much for stopping by and the sweet comment about my grandson. I find most little kids around that age to be absolute marvels (that’s why Sasha of the Sasha’s Mom story stopped me in my track that day). They are so perspicacious and full of wonder, and their imaginations know no boundaries. I wish we could maintain that into adulthood. What a delightful place the world would be.

      Happy holidays to you and yours. See you in 2015!

  11. Ann Gaudreaux

    December 14, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    Eleanor: enjoy your thoughts, and seems as if we are on similar wavelengths. How about meeting for lunch sometime in the new year? Have a blessed Christmas with your family. We will be in Boston with a mixed bag of family members, including two of my siblings and their kids, and my older daughter, her husband and two grandsons– real characters. Should be lots o’ fun. XO Ann

    Sent from my iPad


    • etomczyk

      December 14, 2014 at 8:51 pm

      Ann: Sent you a private email. Lunch it is! 🙂

  12. Let's CUT the Crap!

    December 15, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    This is a delightful and inspiring post. Your grandson is an exceptionally bright boy.
    Peace on earth is all I want for Christmas. Pray, one day we’ll get it.
    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, Eleanor, to you and yours. Have a lovely break.

    • etomczyk

      December 15, 2014 at 3:42 pm

      Tess: Thanks so much for taking time to read my Christmas story; I always appreciate your comments. Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you as well.

      • Let's CUT the Crap!

        December 15, 2014 at 6:19 pm

        And the same back to you. Enjoy the time off with your family. ❤

  13. Elyse

    December 15, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    Have a wonderful holiday, Eleanor. Best for 2015, too! And you’re moving?????

    • etomczyk

      December 15, 2014 at 11:32 pm

      Elyse. Yes, we are–several hours away. Haven’t made the formal announcement yet (spring), but when we do, I’ll be writing about it because the entire concept lends itself to comic blog fodder.

      • Elyse

        December 16, 2014 at 6:21 am

        Oh my! Well i can’t believe we didn’t get together while we were so close.

      • etomczyk

        December 16, 2014 at 2:13 pm

        Elyse. There’s still time. Would love to get together. You name the place and time. 🙂

  14. aFrankAngle

    December 24, 2014 at 10:18 am

    Merry Christmas to you, WW, and your family … and thanks for all the goodness you share with us.


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