By Tony Barthel
A couple of Christmases ago, as a fluke, I left a note by the stockings with a plate of really nice home-baked peanut butter cookies and a glass of chilled eggnog along with a silly request. Being an RV writer, I asked Santa if I could do a review of his sleigh for grins and giggles. Of course, I did this in jest, but after a few eggnogs myself, I thought, “What the heck.”
Right on Halloween last year, I got a note that appeared on my desk as if by magic that read, “Your Santa’s sleigh review has been approved. Please stand by your chimney on December 24th at 8:31 a.m., California time, for pickup.” Now, I thought this was a joke, but not wanting to pass up an opportunity to see who the note writer was, I did as instructed.
I looked at my watch. It was 8:30 and nothing was happening, as I suspected. But then, as the second hand indicated the predetermined time, there was a clatter on the roof and, what do you know, Santa, his sleigh and the whole team was up there!
“Come on up, Tony!” he said with a chuckle. Wow. Santa Claus! My first thought was that this was silly. My second thought was that I was glad it was a new roof because all those reindeer, Santa himself, two elves, a sleigh and the biggest red velvet bag I’ve ever seen didn’t come crashing through. Whew!
Next thing I knew I was in the sleigh and Santa said, “We got your request so we put you on the first shift of the big ride.”
“First shift?” I asked, still a bit shocked that I was in an open sleigh flying high above the U.S. with no seat belt or anything else. Oh, and the fact that I was sitting next to Santa…
“Yes,” replied the jolly old elf, “we do the world in shifts.” That explains a great deal. “I appreciated the change of cookies and milk, so I thought we could fit you in.”
Wow, that’s like a world exclusive of some sort, I thought.
“I really appreciate it!” I exclaimed. “Can I ask a few questions?”
How fast are we going?” was all I could think of.
“There’s no speedometer on the sleigh, but we go more quickly since Einstein helped shape the reindeer antlers for better speed,” replied Santa.
It was then that I realized we were over Australia. We were also descending and it was getting warmer. Ah, summer.
“Here – You can help me,” said Santa as he sprinkled me with some magical dust. It was then that I noticed my beard getting much longer and fuller and hair sprouting from my head. My Jimmy Buffett concert T-shirt switched to a red Santa suit and I looked almost like the Christmas elf himself.
Now I’m almost glad I didn’t ever follow through on all those diets I started…
Just then we landed on a roof and he reached into the sack to pull out a few gifts. He grabbed my hand and we slid down the chimney like a buttered pig through a farmer’s hands. We were in a beautiful home and I noticed the warm fire didn’t singe the suit at all. Amazing. It was also weird that someone in the summer-like climate of Australia at this time of year had a fire, but there were other breaks in logic on this trip.
As I marveled at the fire escape (on my part, not outdoors!) I realized that we were headed back up the chimney and into the sleigh again. Amazing.
We hopped over to the next house and this time I paid more attention to Santa than the suit or the fire. Again, he reached into the bag and pulled out a few gifts without checking a list or anything. Then, down the chimney we went and he placed the gifts under the tree, then went over to the stockings all hung by the fireplace and made a funnel with his hands. From that funnel, he magically filled the stockings.
“Special gloves,” he replied. “They know just what to put into everyone’s stockings, provided the stockings are hung by the chimney with care.”
I saw him take a few bites of the cookies by the Christmas tree and a few gulps of milk and that’s when I noticed that he was as skinny as a rail.
“Santa, have you lost weight?”
“Every year, Tony, but the cookies and the milk put it right back on!”
Back in the sleigh, the process was repeated over, and over, and over again thousands and thousands of times. By my account, we were spending hours and hours just here in Australia and we had the whole rest of the world to get to.
“Santa, aren’t we running behind? What about the rest of the world?”
“Relax, Tony. Time in the sleigh is different than time for everyone else. While you might think we’re spending hours and hours on this, not even a second has passed on the earth.”
Pretty soon we had covered the entire country and that’s when I noticed the bag wasn’t anywhere close to empty. As we headed to New Zealand, I found out this was the latest sleigh the elves had built somewhere around 1492 or so, making it about 527 years old. It seems that old Leonardo da Vinci helped in the design of this sleigh. Da Vinci? Einstein?
The sleigh is interesting, carved out of a very hard wood with a single bench seat in front and no doors, seatbelts or anything else that would keep Santa from making quick entrances and exits. The eight reindeer keep the sleigh flying at a tremendous pace and takeoffs and landings are quick and bumpy. It was difficult to compare this to any other vehicle, but it seemed very well suited to the task at hand.
Out back, there’s a large open luggage compartment with two jump seats for the elves that ride back there and help with gift handling and such.
The whole night was just like this – hopping roof to roof and country to country. As Santa ate more and more cookies and drank milk at almost every stop, he grew in size. By the end of the night, he and I were about the same size. Ugh, I gotta stay away from the cookies.
My night with Santa was a lot of fun, a lot of work and quite a magical experience. I asked if he had a message for the people who read RV Travel and he simply said,
“A very merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!” How do you top that?
These RV reviews are written based on information provided by the manufacturers along with our writer’s own research. We receive no Christmas gifts or other financial benefits from these reviews. They are also not an attempt to avert coal in the writer’s stocking. They are intended only as a brief overview of the vehicle, not a comprehensive critique, which would require a thorough inspection and/or test drive.