It was Christmas Eve morning and there I was, tucked in bed, snug as a bug, the wiener dog draped over my head, enjoying the final minutes of sleep before trudging to the mall to trade elbows with all the other guys who'd left their shopping to the last minute.
Then, suddenly and without warning, my wife burst into our bedroom with tears in her eyes and a mysterious bundle tucked under her arms. "HE HAD A BABY!" she shrieked with delight as the wiener dog and I, our bleary eyes, stared up in surprise. "HE HAD A BABY!"
What with being a crusading journalist, I knew just what to ask. "Who had a baby?" I grunted.
"CREEPY SANTA HAD A BABY!" my overexcited spouse exclaimed. "HERE, TAKE A LOOK."
With that, she handed me a small red and green Christmas basket. Tucked inside was a miniature red Christmas blanket and swaddled inside that was a tiny plush doll with an eerily familiar face.
"OHMYGAWD!" I gasped. "IT'S THE SON OF CREEPY SANTA!"
For those of you whose brains are still numb from New Year's Eve, grab a handful of Bufferin and I'll try to explain.
Creepy Santa is a three-foot-tall plush Santa doll I have immortalized in a series of holiday columns in recent years. One glance at the malevolent, open-mouthed glare on his pale plastic face and you'll know why my daughter nicknamed him "Creepy Santa."
Normally at this time of year, the scowling gnome is parked on the porch to scare away kids who want to shovel our driveway, but almost a year ago today, he vanished, carried away by kidnappers.
We didn't even realize he was missing until, about a week later, we received the first in what would prove to be a series of mysterious brown envelopes dropped in our mailbox. The first envelope contained a photo of the little dude clad in a tiny Winnipeg Jets T-shirt along with a slip of paper stating: "GO JET GO!"
Every month since, we have received a fresh envelope from the kidnappers. The photos show Creepy Santa decked out for Valentine's Day, transformed into a swarthy sea dog for Talk Like a Pirate Day, leading the Canadian contingent at the Opening Ceremonies of the Summer Olympics, or just floating in the inflatable pool in our yard.
Just before Christmas, the photo showed him visiting a real-life Santa at a local mall, which led us to believe the creepy little guy was coming home for the holidays.
As hard as this is to admit, we really missed him this year. The big tradition in our home involves my wife and kids hiding Creepy Santa, then waiting, gleefully, for their victim to stumble on him and scream.
So when I heard my wife scream on Christmas Eve morning, I assumed Creepy Santa had returned. Instead, what she found parked on our doorstep was the mini version of our abducted decoration, a foot-long doll on whom had been pinned the following cheery note: "Hi, I'm J.C. Junior Creepy!"
Also tucked in the baby basket was a card from Creepy Santa stating he needed a little more time away from home. "Until I'm ready to return, I need you to take care of something for me," the card said. "I hope you will welcome this 'gift' into your home and love it as your own."
There was also a photo showing the full-size Creepy Santa Sr. posing proudly with the pint-sized fruit of his creepy loins.
While sad the full-size Santa was still missing, my wife and daughter were thrilled by the unexpected arrival of our newest bundle of joy, Son of Creepy Santa.
"OMG, they're (bad word) identical," my daughter gushed. "Whoever kidnapped Creepy Santa must be crazy!"
But this wouldn't be a proper story without a heart-tugging happy ending, which occurred days later when my wife and I strolled into Mona Lisa Ristorante for a party to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. When we arrived, there, sitting on a bar stool, looking as creepy as ever, was Prime Minister Stephen Harper. No, sorry, it was (Hurray!) Creepy Santa. Attached to our long-lost pal were a helium balloon and a sign shrieking: "Happy Anniversary! Looking forward to the next 30 years together."
We still have no idea who the kidnappers were, but that's not what matters. What matters is that if you hear the sound of screams coming from our home next holiday season, don't bother calling the police because it's nothing criminal. It's just a little creepy.