Santa Vulture


Some kids don’t believe in Santa Claus.

Well, they better get with the program, because Santa Vulture’s coming to town.

We spotted him last Friday morning. I had all three kids with me as we drove Hadley to the orthodontist to have her braces cranked. We arrived around 8:30 and couldn’t ignore the solitary vulture, standing like a watchman in the grass by the office door. He eye-balled us but didn’t move when we approached. From the waiting room, we observed him through the window.

Perhaps he was sunning himself, but he’d parked right beside the holiday display, and he appeared to be watching ortho arrivals, and the flow of kids shuttling into the elementary school across the street.

That’s when I announced, with an authorative tone: “That — is Santa Vulture.”

The kids looked skeptical.

“Well, why else would he be here? He doesn’t need braces.”

“That is Santa Vulture,” the orthodontist confirmed, as he fetched Hadley. “He was wearing his red hat, but it fell off.”

While we waited for Had, I explained the details. “All those Santa-doubters, those non-believers at your school? On Christmas Eve, Santa Vulture poops on their houses.” 

“And the really bad kids? Really, really bad kids?” I paused to let them imagine any offenders. “Well, Santa Vulture pecks their eyes out.”

To be honest, the vulture sounded more plausible than the whole Santa Claus scenario: Flying, wingless, reindeer, lugging an obese man around the world, with a ton of toys?

At least the bird’s designed to fly. And as we observed, Santa Vulture was occupied watching the elementary school kids…. obviously noting the doubters. And we’d seen his buddies perched atop Tractor Supply or feasting on roadkill.

“That’s his posse,” I explained. “They help on the big night. And they celebrate Thanksgiving dinner on December 23rd, in preparation for their ‘deliveries.'”

By the time Hadley emerged from her tooth tightening, the story was set in stone and we were working on new refrains to old holiday hits.

he sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, he knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good…or Santa Vulture’s gonna peck your eyes out….

It didn’t rhyme, but that didn’t stop us from singing, “Santa Vulture’s coming to town.”

It’s only a matter of time before I get a call from school — a report that the kids are terrorizing their classmates with Alfred Hitchcock-like stories of birds pecking out their eyes on Christmas Eve.

It’s so nice to share holiday traditions with others in the community…


Santa Vulture, plotting for Christmas Eve

Christmas Day: Intermission Tradition


Celebrating Christmas with 3 young kids, Martin and I are in the tradition-building phase of the holiday. Annual practices and habits reappear and nestle themselves in and around December 25. And one in particular has staked a permanent claim.

The forced march.

Actually, we’d never call it that. It’s “intermission” — a cease fire in the rapid destruction of Santa haul beneath the tree. We rug-up the kids and take a long walk.

The origins of intermission date back to 2010, when we discovered Cayden and Hadley early Christmas morning, methodically and indiscriminately tearing through every present and package. We extracted them from wads of crumpled paper and tape, and pushed them out the door with baby Brynn. They were tearful and remorseful, but the walk bucked them up.



The following Christmas, we versed our early-risers on the “open only the gifts in your stocking” rule, but set out for a late-morning walk. We ditched Brynn’s stroller and opted for a combo of Bugsy/wagon transport to crest the top of the neighbor’s hill.





The next year, we officially announced “intermission” halfway through present-opening. That was last Christmas. Bugsy carted two kids to the yak-cow property, to check out a new lamb.

This year, a few days ago, I decided that Bugsy deserved a lighter load. Just Brynn. I hoisted the older kids aboard Jazz — who was probably baffled by the octopus effect of four bareback legs. A vast departure from his racetrack days. But the journey’s purpose was the same: take a break from new-toy acquisition and appreciate the day.


Double duty on the way up….



…just one passenger for the return leg.


I have no doubt that intermission will continue, maybe with bikes (if the kids ever learn to ride them) or perhaps with a fleet of horses.

Either way, it’s an official Christmas tradition… and perhaps the impetus of another tradition:

The post-intermission nap.



Happy Boxing Day


And Merry Christmas, too.




If you normally receive a Christmas card from us, but did not this year, it’s because we don’t like you anymore.

Actually, I plum ran out of time. So, all you B-teamers, you’re at the top of next year’s Christmas card list.

As always, special thanks to Liz Zander for her photography services. Including the outtakes.



(This is a keeper; no one notices that Brynn’s about to tumble off the truck.)



Happy Holidays, gang.