The letter with red writing had mocked me for almost an entire year: “Better luck next time! Ho, Ho, Ho! — Santa.”
But on Christmas Eve the following year, it was finally time to set a new and improved trap. It was time to catch Santa delivering presents to our house. The year before, we had tied a thread to my finger and wrapped the other end around the last chocolate chip cookie in a big pile left out for Santa. When he ate the last cookie, he’d unknowingly pull on the string and we would have him trapped!
Right around midnight, the thread was tugged, all of us kids ran to the living room only to find an empty glass of milk, a plate full of cookie crumbs, and the note from Santa.
But this year would be different. The two weeks my three brothers, The Sister, and I spent planning and building was about to pay off. We were sure we’d built the perfect trap, but the trap idea hadn’t come from any of us. Surprisingly, it had come from our mom and dad.
Two weeks before Christmas, Dad had seen our new Santa trap plans including a giant metal wash tub dropping from the ceiling and offered a better idea. He said the wash tub wasn’t large enough to hold Santa. We needed something bigger. Mom and Dad had just bought a new washing machine, and the box was still in the basement.
After retrieving it, we laid it down right in front of the fireplace. Then, with Dad’s help, we rigged up a series of pullies and tied five strings to the top of the box. The other ends of the strings went down the hallway to each of our bedrooms. When Santa came down the chimney and crawled out, he’d go straight into our box. As he struggled to get free, we would feel the tug and then pull on the strings to close the top of the box!
By 9 p.m. on Christmas Eve, we were still wide awake lying in our beds holding tightly onto the end of our strings. And, just like last year, right before midnight we felt a big pull on the strings. We all tugged back pulling the lid shut.
Running down the hallway, I bumped into Twin Brother Mark. He fell over Older Brother Richard, and Big Brother James tumbled down the steps. Still, somehow, we all finally made it to the living room without any serious injuries. Mom, Dad, and The Sister were already there looking at the closed washing machine box shaking back and forth.
Santa was actually inside trying to escape! It was going to be the best Christmas ever. It had taken two tries, but we had finally caught Santa. Well, yes and no.
Pulling the box away from the fireplace, we carefully opened the lid expecting to see a whole lot of red and white. Instead, what we saw was a little white and brown along with another note from Santa. “Sorry, Charlie. Better luck next year. Bow, Wow, Wow! – Santa.”
Next to his name was a little black paw print. We hadn’t caught Santa, but he had brought us a white and brown puppy! The rest of the day was spent playing chase with and getting face licks from our new puppy. We named him Charlie, and it was the best Christmas ever!
When I told our two granddaughters this story, they wanted to know if we ever caught Santa. I smiled as I tucked them into bed and replied, “You’ll never believe what happened the next year.” And just like them, you too, Dear Reader, will have to wait until next Christmas to read what happened. But I assure you it will be worth the wait.
From The Wife and me, here’s wishing you and yours a merry Christmas. And good luck building your Santa trap.
[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001.]