The line to see Santa wound around the Christmas tree, past Starbucks wrapping its way along the mall like a giant boa constrictor wraps its prey. Vinnie and his mom stood in line across from Starbucks.
Vinnie tugs on his mom’s hand, “Mom, can you see Santa? How many more people in front of us? I can’t see him, Mom. Are any of his helpers here? I told you we should have left when I got up. Rupert agrees with me.
Vinnie’s mom glances down at Vinnie, “The line’s moving along pretty well. It won’t be long. Be patient, Vinnie.”
Vinnie let go of his mom’s hand and reaches inside his coat pocket. He pulls out a folded piece of paper and a small envelop. He unfolds the small paper and begins reading it aloud, “Dear Santa, I have been really, really, really good this year.”
Vinnie’s mom bends over and whispers, “Don’t read aloud, Vinnie. You don’t want everyone to know what you are going to ask Santa. What’s in the envelop.”
Vinnie looks up at his Mom. “You’re right, Mom. These kids will probably all be disappointed because they didn’t write a letter to hand to Santa. I don’t trust the Post Office to get the letter to Santa on time. If I wrote the letter in October it would probably reach him, but I wasn’t thinking about Christmas back then. I’m really smart to bring a letter to Santa, right, Mom?”
“What’s in the envelop, Vinnie?” asks his Mom.
“Oh, that. It’s nothing, Mom. It’s personal between Santa and Rupert,” says Vinnie.
“That’s so nice of Rupert to write Santa a letter,” says his Mom.
Vinnie’s mom was staring into Starbucks. Vinnie says, “Mom, text dad and tell him to get you a coffee or one of those drinks you like with whipped cream.”
“I can’t, Vinnie. Dad is off to another shopping area to buy me a present for Christmas.”
“Mom, I told him not to go to Home Depot. I don’t know if he listened to me. I’ll be okay in line. Why don’t you mobile order? Your drink will be ready before you know it. You’ll hardly be away from me. You can watch me from inside.”
“I don’t know, Vinnie. I don’t want to leave you alone.”
“Mom, there are police all around. Besides you can see me. And, I have Rupert with me. I’ll be okay.”
Vinnie’s mom stares into Starbucks. She smells the fragrant aroma of coffee, and says, “I could really use a cup of coffee. Promise you’ll stay in line?”
“Promise, Mom. I promise I will stay in the Santa line. If I finish with Santa before you get your coffee I’ll come right to Starbucks.”
“I’m not going to take my eyes off you. I’ll be watching you every second,” says Vinnie’s mom taking out her iPhone, tapping the Starbucks app to place a mobile order. “I’ll only be a minute.”
Vinnie waves to his mom as she walks into Starbucks. He lifts Rupert to his mouth and says, “Rupert, this is our chance. I’ve got to see Santa before he takes a break. I don’t want to see him when he’s tired. Besides, he’s probably waiting for me. Santa knows everything. I bet he is the smartest person on Earth.”
Vinnie takes a last look at his Mom. She’s standing by the mobile order counter. He waves to her. She waves back. Vinnie says, “Rupert, it’s time to see Santa.”
Vinnie glances toward his mom, sees her picking up her mobile order. He turns, steps out of line and starts running toward the front of the line. Rupert goes right along with him.
“It’s Santa time, Rupert. Like Dad always says, sometimes you got to break the rules.”