Yukon Books - Whitehorse, Yukon
Yukonbooks.com > Ellen Davignon: Lives of Quiet Desperation

  Ellen Davignon: Lives of Quiet Desperation

A Visit With Maria

December 15, 2004

While working for Chris Sorg and Sherry Lindley at their Maximilian Corporation, I found it was often required of me to rise above and beyond the call of duty. Several years ago, I agreed to play Mrs. Santa at a variety of venues. My role was reprised many times and after one such event, I came out to find that my old-lady-grey Tempo, parked more for convenience than legality, had been towed. After dealing with the costly bother, I did what I always do after such an occasion: I didn't get mad, I got busy writing about it and turned it into a Christmas column for the Yukon News.

Not long ago, I found this column in my files and it brought back the events of that day, good and bad, and it made me laugh. Mrs. Santa is no longer part of my repertoire, but I thought that I just might bring her back, in all her glory, and share her with you one more time.



Startled, I leaned past the mail box in front of Shopper's and peered down Second Avenue toward the Old Log Church.

And what my wondering eyes should appear but a vision, of sorts, in be-ruffled red and white, hands on ample hips, mob cap cocked at a belligerent angle over one eye, a stream of invective issuing from her daintily rouged lips.

Springing from my viewpoint on the corner to see what was the matter, I was able, with some difficulty, to determine that Mrs. Claus's dog team had been towed.

Taking advantage of a late-night shopping opportunity before returning to her northern home and finding the Hougen's parking lot filled to overflowing, she had parked her team on Elliott, a street designated for immediate snow removal. Upon her return, she found only a yellow stain to indicate where her vehicle had been.

I pointed out that she had tied up in a tow-away zone.

"But I was only a few minutes late, l5 at the most. I was going to be right back," she declared with some indignation.

"They didn't know that," I pointed out in a reasonable tone as a City grader began its sweep down the edge of the sidewalk.

Maria Claus muttered something unflattering about the parentage of the hapless operator, picked up her parcels and leaped spryly to the sidewalk as the big machine rumbled by. She seemed quite nimble for a woman of her age and corpulence.

Catching my look of amazement, she grinned. "Gotta be quick," she said. "All those elves trying out all those toys and the reindeer milling about.... " Sobering, she glanced at her watch and then at me. "What shall I do?" she asked. "Santa's expecting me home tonight and time is getting to be decidedly of the essence. Darn it, anyway." She was getting angry again.

Finding a phone, I dispatched Phil to locate and liberate the impounded pooches and their sled, then turned to the caustic Mrs. Claus. "Come on, I'll buy you a coffee while we're waiting..... "

"So," I said as I watched her generously cream and sugar her steaming cup of Tim Hortons's finest brew. "What brings you to town so close to Christmas? Aren't you supposed to be up to your teakettle in doll clothes and fruitcake?"

"Well, yes, I am," she agreed. "But I had this lovely invitation to visit Maximilian's Emporium at Porter Creek... " She glanced at me from under lowered brows. There was a glint in her eye that was definitely not a twinkle. "I don't get many of those, you know, it's always HIM that they want... Santa Claus." Her lip curled just a little as she enunciated the name in a singsong voice.

Bewildered by her tone, I stared at the grandmotherly figure sitting opposite, looking somewhat the worse for wear.

She caught my look and smiled. "Oh, I know what you're thinking, dearie. And you're right. I AM jealous." She sighed. "But not of Himself, you understand. I just get tired of sitting home while HE gets to go kiting all over the world. So when I got an invitation to visit... why, I just couldn't resist, even though it was going to make me late. And now, unless your husband hurries with my team, I'm going to be behinder than ever."

Fascinated, I gazed at Maria Claus, the woman behind the Man of the Juletide Moment, and wondered aloud what it must be like to be the wind beneath his wings...er...hoofs.

"Oh, it's not so bad." She leaned back in her chair, pursing her lips. "Mostly, I don't even think about it, just do what has to be done: all the new Barbie styles to sew, and a ton of baking. Meals at odd hours, snacks and coffee breaks. Dishes. Laundry, load after load of those little green shirts and leggings, and not forgetting that it takes me a whole year to get the soot out of his nice red outfit.

"And what about the reindeer, wandering in and out at will. You don't believe anyone else would think to sweep up the dropping, do you? Moan and complain when they step in some but never take a broom and clean up after them.

"Then there's that Rudolph. What a pain in the neck HE turned out to be, showing off his nose to the female deer... Yo! Baby, take a look at this!" - her voice took on a decidedly reindeer-ish timbre - "...and wearing out his batteries."

"But...Santa... he must be fun to be around, to work with, to live with? He's so jolly and good-natured...?"

Maria held up her cup for a refill and took her time with the cream and sugar. Stirred, sipped, a thoughtful look on her softly lined face. "Oh, he's round, alright. About about 54 inches around, I'd say. And no wonder, all that shortbread!"

She took another slurp, looked right and left, then leaned toward me. "And don't forget the Schnapps," she whispered.

"The SCHNAPPS?" I gasped. "Don't tell me....?"

"Shhh." Maria touched her finger to her lips and inclined her curly white head the merest amount. "Yes, dearie, it's true. That little red nose and the rosy cheeks... a dead giveaway!" Slurp. "And the pipe....."


She nodded gently. "I'm afraid so."

I must have looked stricken for she reached out her hand and gave mine a pat. "There, there, love. It's alright. Santa does what he has to do to get the job done. He...oh, look... there's your husband with my team." She drained her cup and began gathering her parcels. "And now, I've got to be on my way."

Phil helped her straighten the dogs in their harnesses and then jumped out of the way as she planted her feet firmly on the rails at the back of the sleigh and grasped the handles. With a crack of her whip and a shrill whistle, she began slowly to rise up and out of the parking lot.

"Mrs. Claus...Maria...wait..." I shouted. "I forgot to ask. What was so important on your list that you took a chance on parking in the tow-away zone?"

Maria looked down, her eyes twinkling, her dimples how merry. She fumbled amongst her parcels and held up a familiar shape. "Oh-ho," she laughed, "I just nipped into the Bonanza Bar for this."

"What the heck?" Phil exclaimed. "That looked just like a bottle of Bailey's!"

"There, there love. It's all right." My own eyes twinkling, I patted his arm as he stood watching Maria and her team hang a looping right over Grey Mountain. "After all, a woman's gotta do what a woman's gotta do to get the job done."

And I heard her exclaim, as she drove out of sight,

"Merry Christmas, my dear, and to all, a good night!"

Print Preview


[Special Order Desk]
Great Deals
New Arrivals
Special Offers
Recover password
Contact us
Privacy statement
Terms & Conditions
Shipping Information
Special Orders Desk

Copyright © 2007 Yukonbooks.com