Tonight I was doing dishes at 11:30 p.m. I was using copious amounts of Williams Sonoma Peppermint Dishsoap. You probably think that is really wasteful of me to buy dishsoap at a high-end kitchen store. I do it because it there has to be one tiny little ray of sunshine in the whole dishwashing thing. It smells so good that sometimes I wash my hands even when they are clean, just so I can sniff the stuff. Most people think that clean dishes are their own reward. But you must understand that for me, dirty dishes are the worst job in the house. I would rather clean three weeks of mildew out of the shower than do dishes. I would rather scrub toilets. With my bare hands. I would rather scrub the boys' bathroom with my bare hands. No big deal, you say? Do you have five boys in your house? When you do, then we'll talk.
So, 11:30 p.m. dishes. Peppermint dish soap. Listening to my iPod. Christmas tunes. I turned to pick up a stack of dishes, and suddenly there he was. The big guy. That jolly old elf. Santa himself, in my kitchen. We're not talking about a cheap imitation mall Santa with alcohol on his breath and a fake yellowing beard and teeth. Not this one. He smelled of candy canes and pipe tobacco. I've never been a fan of smoking, but all in all, it was a pretty pleasant combination.
My first reaction was, "Quick, get Skippy! He isn't going to want to miss this." But Santa put a finger to his lips, shhh, and grabbed a dishtowel to start drying my dishes. Santa. He's on the list! You know, the list of famous people that, if they knew me, would be my best friends? It's not an idol list...there are plenty of people I admire that I know I wouldn't get along with at all. The ones on this list are the ones with BFF potential. Santa's right there with Tom Hanks, Matt Lauer, Amy Grant, Orson Scott Card and Gordon Ramsey. And do you know what? I was right. We totally hit it off.
He wanted to know why I was up at 11:30 doing dishes, when I have to be at a rehearsal at 7:30 a.m. tomorrow for a big Christmas concert for which I am playing. I told him it was the first time I've had all evening to do them. A friend called tonight and needed to go for a walk, and I went. The missionaries didn't have a dinner appointment, so I made them some soup, muffins and apple pie. A soloist needed to go over parts for the concert tomorrow, so I rehearsed. There were so many things to do, and so many places to go, that I was just getting to the dishes shortly before midnight. I expected a lecture about how I shouldn't overschedule, but I suppose Santa knows all about deadlines and fitting everything all into one night. So he just nodded sympathetically, and dried dishes.
We talked about my kids, his reindeer, gift lists, to do lists, and cookie recipes. I could tell we were working our way around to the big question. I can guess which one you're thinking: Why doesn't avocado come off in the dishwasher? I know, right? But no, it was the other big one: What do you want for Christmas? I had no desire to sit upon, nor did he offer, his knee. But there was the question, all the same. And my head began to swim with the possibilities. Visions of sugarplums were dancing. And I don't even know what a sugarplum is. I thought to myself, I have the actual Santa Claus right here in my kitchen, and he wants to know what I want for Christmas! New dress, new computer, look good in a swimsuit, movie tickets, a laundry elf (he has got to know some, right?), HD TV, a tummy tuck, laser hair removal (okay, that last one...I don't even know where that came from. No way I am going to let someone laser my hair follicles... and the one before that? I can see the headline now: MOTHER OF SEVEN DIES ON OPERATING TABLE...GETTING A TUMMY TUCK. I would be reduced to a cautionary tale. No, thank you). But even so, the list in my head grew longer and longer.
But then I realized a couple of things. First of all, that it was nice to have a little company while I do dishes late at night. Thanks, Santa. Secondly, there wasn't much that I want for Christmas, and even less that I actually need. That is a good realization.
I told Santa that he didn't need to worry about my friends and family, either, because it is one of my favorite things in life to give them gifts. He laughed at me then, and it was a quiet laugh. Good thing, since, everyone else in the house is snug in bed. But he still shook like a bowlful of jelly. He told me that was good, because a) I am 44 years old, and if Santa was dragging around gifts for people that old, that his sleigh would probably have broken down years ago, and b) I live in the same town as the "Real Housewives of Orange County." Apparently Santa doesn't visit any town that has that many people on the naughty list. "So I'm on my own? That is what you're telling me?" I asked. He winked and said, "Of course not. I'll still help you with the dishes." (I'm not going to lie...I think the old guy was flirting with me) And so he did. The last dish done and the counters all shined, I bent to start the dishwasher. When I turned around, he was gone.
Hallucination, brought on by the potent combination of stress, peppermint dishsoap and Christmas music? Perhaps. But I don't think so.
Yes, Victoria, there is a Santa Claus.