Playing Chicken with Santa

As I circled the mall parking lot for the 30th time, I finally saw a pair of red lights two rows over that let me know someone was pulling out. I quickly threw my car into reverse and sped over to the row. But as I arrived at the spot and put on my turn signal, another car arrived at the same time from the opposite direction and put his turn signal on, too. I knew immediately that this was going to be an ugly holiday parking standoff and I prepared myself for the worst. I stared into the driver’s seat of the other car to see who my parking spot adversary was, and I saw… Santa Claus.

Yes, it was Old Saint Nick. Kris Kringle. Father Christmas. Whatever you want to call him. I could see his cherry red cheeks and long white beard and the not-so-merry twinkle in his eye. He was decked out in his finest red suit, shaking his fist at me and pointing to the spot.

I was momentarily flustered. Why was Santa driving? Why didn’t he come on his reindeer? That would have made more sense. I’m sure there was plenty of reindeer parking in the back. Plus, I’m sure he knew the mall parking would be crazy this time of year. One of his elves could have just called him an Uber and avoided all the hassle.

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But here he was, behind the wheel of a beat -up Chevy Malibu, looking to play chicken with me for a parking spot at the mall. He pointed to his white beard and red hat, as though expecting me to honor some kind of Santa seniority clause. I shook my head no. I don’t know how they do things at the North Pole, but down here in the lower 48, we don’t give preference to big jolly guys in red suits.

As we waited for the other car to pull out, I thought about the consequences. I was pretty sure if I took the spot, I was going to end up on the naughty list. Was I ready to get a lump of coal in my stocking for the last parking spot at the mall? Yes. Yes, I was. It might cost me two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree, but I was going to get that spot.

I gunned my engine to let him know I meant business, and then I stopped. Suddenly I realized that maybe Santa was fighting me for the spot because he was late for his duties inside. There was probably a mile-long line of kids who had been waiting hours to sit on Santa’s lap. Was I really such a Scrooge that I’d keep Santa from giving these kids that moment of pure wonder and delight?

In my hesitation, I failed to notice another car driving up the row and before I knew what happened, it shot out from behind me and flew into the empty spot. Santa and I both stared incredulously as we saw our parking spot stolen right out from under our noses.

Within moments, a large woman with white hair and a bright red coat emerged from the car and I realized, without a doubt, it was… Mrs. Claus.

As she dashed past my car, I rolled down my window.

“Hey, Mrs. Claus.” I cried. “That was not very Christmassy of you!”

Then she ran through the rows and yelled out of sight,

“You all are too slow. Too bad and good night.”

For more Lost in Suburbia, follow Tracy on Facebook at or on Twitter at @TracyBeckerman.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

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