Skip to main content


Ho, Ho, Ho, Santa Claus

By Dean Norman

This story was told to me by a bartender in Salmon, Idaho. It happened more than 50 years ago, so I don’t think it will do any harm to tell it now.

I was offered a job to drive a truckload of onions from Seattle to Toronto. If I drove night and day, only stopping to eat when I was hungry, and to nap when I was sleepy, I could be back home for Christmas.

I left Seattle around noon and drove across Washington, Idaho and Montana in good time. Napping and snacking when I needed to. When I got to North Dakota, the temperature was way below zero. In the middle of the night I came over the top of a hill and saw a little town in the valley that was all lit up with Christmas lights.

This was before interstate highways. The two-lane highway was Main Street where it went through this town. The speed limit there might be 35 or 25 mph. If I went through town that slow, I would have to grind up the hill on the other side of town at a low speed. This truck didn't have enough power to go up a hill very fast.

I didn't see any traffic, and I figured the police on duty might be one deputy who was drinking coffee and eating apple pie in the all-night diner. I cranked up the engine and went down the hill and through that town. Well, I don't know how fast I was going. I didn't take my eyes off of the road to look at the speedometer. When I was going up the hill on the other side of town, I glanced in the rear vision mirror, and didn't see any headlights following me. In fact, the whole town didn't look as brightly lit as it had. I thought that was because I was only seeing it for a few seconds in the rear vision mirror.

A few miles down the road I came to a truck stop and decided I needed to take a break. I got of my truck and was walking to the diner when a guy coming out of the diner waved to me and hollered, “Well, HO HO HO, Santa Claus!”

“Merry Christmas to you, too,” I answered. I wondered why he called me Santa Claus. I looked back at my truck. The box over the cab was decorated with a Santa Claus, a sleigh, some reindeer, and a lot of tinsel and lights. I was the Grinch who had stolen Christmas from that little town in the valley.

Well, I did the right thing. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time. I climbed up on top of my truck, took all of the decorations off, and stuffed them into a trash dumpster. Then I took off without stopping at the diner for a snack. I wasn't hungry or sleepy for quite a while until I was sure no one was after me.

The subzero temperature froze the onions, so they turned to mush soon after they were unloaded in Toronto. Driving a truckload of onions across northern U.S. in December? Well, the shipper thought it was a good idea at the time.

— Dean Norman

Dean Norman is a cartoonist and humor writer, whose work has appeared in greeting cards,The New Yorker, MAD Magazine, The Cleveland Plain Dealer Sunday Magazine and The Kansas City Star. He's also written comedy for cartoon shows and written and illustrated children's books. He illustrated a cartoon book for Cleveland Metroparks, Cleveland Metroparks Adventures.

Previous Post

The Sheltering Suburbanite to Her Neighbor

Inspired by pandemic-quarantine bubbles, Melissa Balmain penned this poem.
Read More
Next Post

Home Alone

John is spending the weekend visiting his mother, which means I am spending three nights on our living room loveseat. I’m afraid of not sleeping near the front door when he’s gone. He doesn’t understand the logic, since my arrangement means I have to turn off the security system in case I need to get up during the night.
Read More