It's starting to sound a lot like Christmas around my house these days. Hark, if you put your ear up to this page, I think you'll hear exactly what I'm talking about.
It sounds just like this: "AIEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!"
Sorry, but that's the festive sound of absolute terror my son made the other day when, after dragging his bleary-eyed 21-year-old body out of bed, he staggered to the basement shower, opened the door, turned on the water... and found "Creepy Santa" staring back at him from the corner.
This is what passes for a fun Christmas tradition in my house. Technically speaking, we don't actually have any fun Christmas traditions; we just do the same old stuff year after year.
But this Christmas, my wife, she who must not be named, is trying to spice things up by hiding Creepy Santa in unusual places and then waiting, gleefully, for the kids to stumble on him and scream in horror.
Ha ha ha. What a fun family I have. I will try to explain. Creepy Santa is a three-foot tall stuffed Santa doll who was nicknamed by my teenage daughter because he has a face that is... well... it is extremely creepy.
He has a malevolent open-mouthed stare that would remind you of one of those icky inflatable dolls you can get on the Internet, assuming that you or I had ever seen one of these dolls before, which we definitely have NOT. I'm just saying.
Before she moved to the West Coast, my mother -- whose Christmas decorating philosophy is (a) If it is not moving, decorate it; and (b) If it is moving, stop it and then decorate it -- used to stick Creepy Santa in a cardboard chimney on our front porch so that he could scare away stray carollers and neighbourhood children that wanted to shovel the driveway.
Anyway, Creepy Santa has been popping up in some bizarre places this season -- my car, my daughter's bed, the bathtub -- as my wife and children try to demonstrate their love for each other by giving each other holiday heart attacks.
In retaliation for the shower incident, for instance, my kids dressed Creepy Santa up in some of my wife's clothes, then stuck him in her closet so that, when she slid open the door to get dressed before going to work, the hideous little plush gnome toppled out on top of her.
In fact, this thing is so creepy looking that top editors at this very newspaper used a picture of his ugly plastic face to illustrate a nasty story last week about a very naughty mystery Santa who has been sending extremely rude letters to children in the Ottawa area.
My wife was saddened to read about these letters, but was pretty excited to wake up and discover Creepy Santa's face leering at her from the front page. She burst into our room while I was sleeping to tell me the news.
"CREEPY SANTA'S IN THE PAPER!" she bellowed with proud delight before slamming the door.
Call me a Grinch, but I am not a big fan of Creepy Santa. My dogs are on my side, especially the wiener dog, which will bravely growl at Creepy Santa's scowling mug for minutes at a time before flinging her tiny body on top of him and then scurrying away to hide under our bed.
Regular readers will recall that last year, my wife decided to take Creepy Santa along for the ride when she drove to a local shopping mall to pick up our daughter. While en route, she was pulled over by the police.
As she puzzled over what traffic rule she'd violated, a police officer strode over to the car and motioned for her to roll down the window.
"Good evening, ma'am," the officer began.
"Hello, officer," my wife spluttered.
"You know, ma'am," the officer continued, smiling, "your passenger really should be buckled up!"
As I write this, Creepy Santa is sitting on the couch in the living room. I sense that he knows what I am writing about. So I think I'm going to have to move him somewhere else. Transcona sounds about right.
But for now, just try to remember that you'd better be good for goodness sake because Creepy Santa sees you when you're sleeping.
And I'm pretty sure the police can see you, too, so maybe you should think about buckling up.