Skip to content

SIMPSON: I salvaged Santa – and boy is he badass

Sometimes an old, sentimental decoration needs a fresh new look anyway
Some Santa Claus decorations are more sentimental than others, as Now-Leader editor Beau Simpson learned the hard way. (File photo: Lauren Collins)

When I heard the muffled sound of shattered ceramic coming from within the large black garbage bag I had just knocked over in the garage, I knew I was in trouble.

I just didn’t know how much.

I was scared to look.

Because what I did know is that in our garage, two large Santa Claus figures stood individually wrapped in big black garbage bags to keep them looking fresh each Christmas. Each stood about three feet tall and behind their white flowing beards were heads of painted ceramic.

One Santa figure featured a country flair and really didn’t carry any sentimental value.

But the other Santa was extremely special to my wife. It was the first big-ticket Christmas item she bought for herself about 20 years ago, knowing she would one day have kids and want to have a beautiful Santa in the house during future family Christmases.

I’ll give you one guess as to which one I knocked over.

She opened the garbage bag and my wife’s heart was as shattered as poor Santa’s face.

First, there was anger.

What happened? Why couldn’t you be more careful? Maybe if you get all your baseball crap out of the garage, there would be more room for storing my Christmas decorations.

Then, in typical husband fashion, I almost made it worse.

Well, if it was so special to you, why did you put it in a place where it could easily be knocked over?

Admittedly, not my best moment as a husband. But fear not, I quickly ditched that line of defense.

Because next came despair.

Kari couldn’t stop crying. I hugged her and apologized profusely as she trudged into the garage to grab some Gorilla Glue.

It was bad, but not hopeless, I told her as she gathered all the shattered remains to see if Santa could somehow be brought back to life.

While she was able to glue some of his face back together, the thick glue gave Santa gnarly looking scars all the way across his face.

Discouraged and defeated after several minutes of repeatedly throwing pieces in the garbage only to dig them out to try again, she gave up the ghost and faintly asked me to dispose of Santa.

I put the headless Santa downstairs but couldn’t go through with putting him in the trash. There just had to be a way to salvage Santa.

I went back to the garage and rummaged through some things, hoping to find some inspiration.

And I did.

“Kari, come look,” I said proudly about 10 minutes later.

“Meet Tactical Santa. He may have struggled for a bit after ’Nam but he’s still the same ol’ Santa.”

And there Tactical Santa stood, in all his tactical glory.

With ballistically-rated shooting glasses covering his battle-scarred face and with my son’s wide-brimmed camo military boonie adorning his shattered skull, Santa looked none the worse for wear.

In fact, he looked badass.

Tactical Santa says Christmas helped him get back to his old self after Vietnam. (Photo: Beau Simpson)

With a black and white U.S. flag patch on his right shoulder – stars forward of course – and a Magpul sticker on his bright red jacket – not to mention a KA-BAR USMC straight edge combat knife hanging on one side of his wide black belt and a Leatherman Signal on the other – he was not only battle ready, he was geared up for plenty more Christmases in the Simpson household.

Yes, I salvaged Santa.

All I need to do now is rig a sensor so when someone walks by, ‘Fortunate Son’ starts playing, with some gunship Hueys in the background for good measure.

“You’re right,” I said, as a smile emerged on Kari’s face.

“Decorating for Christmas can be a lot of fun.”

Beau Simpson is editor of the Now-Leader. Email him at