It’s not easy for a heathen. Putting up with the Christmas season, that is. Every year it gets more and more difficult to participate in the festivities in good conscience, without feeling like a hypocrite. Growing up, I had been brainwashed with all the season associated myths: Santa Claus, good will toward men, the birth of a savior and the importance of over-spending to maintain a strong economy. When the root myth fell apart for me, the business about birth of a savior, the other more fun ones slowly became tarnished to a point where they weren’t real anymore, either, and Christmas Day began to seem like just another day to me.
Consequently, I have been going through the motions each year for the benefit of the children – all of the children of the world, but mostly for my daughter. While she no longer believes in Santa Claus, and I’m not sure what her official stance is on the Jesus matter (I’ve been doing some of my own brainwashing on her to combat the brainwashing from her mother and CCD . I lost religion in the divorce, but it doesn’t mean I can’t talk some sense into the kids on the side. I converted my son, but I think that had more to do with church being a boring drag than anything else.) she’s still into Christmas because of the presents (both giving and receiving), the decorations, the merry making and the good will toward men. Even the good will toward men gets to me every now and then. I try to appreciate it but, I have two issues that get in the way. First, why can’t there be good will toward men all year long? Why do we have to amp it up around Christmas and then piss on each other the rest of the year? Second, why can’t we have good will toward women, too? It’s almost as if women are treated as second class citizens in the Christian belief. I don’t know how you ladies put up with it. I wouldn’t. Somebody may need to slug the pope right in his dangling rosary beads. Just a suggestion.
As I was saying, I did feel a little bit of Christmas spirit this year because of the good will toward men, I mean, toward EVERYBODY notion. It started after I watched Meet Me In St. Louis when Judy Garland demanded in song that I have a merry little Christmas. It was magical. Oh baby, my heart strings, they were a-zinging. What a voice! What a star! What a cutie! Too bad she ended up becoming a horrible, pill-popping, drunk skank. But I did what she sang. From there it slowly built each day as I was pushed around by mean shoppers, honked at by harried drivers and trampled upon by the dire state of our economy. The more negative vibes I endured, the more I heard Judy sing in my head and the more the spirit grew. For a time I was able to cloak my disdain for the mythical pillars that created the season with the very feeling of warmth only this time of year could muster. It was almost as if I was falling in love with nobody in particular. Or maybe I was merely a necrophilic pool boy for the dusty corpse of Judy Garland. What’s the difference, really? I would find out later it was just gas from eating too many holiday burritos. But I enjoyed it while it lasted.
Bemused amidst a billow of holiday glee, I nabbed the daughter and braved the winter warlock to purchase new holiday decorations. We went to Menards, the most Christmassy place on Earth. Each year I buy at least two new pieces of decoration – one for inside the house and one for outside the house. We became the proud owners of a mischievous plastic light-up snowman for the front yard and a nineteen inch, fiber optic holiday moose to help guard the Christmas tree in the family room. This was going to be the best Christmas of the year!
The new trimmings’ acclimation into our team of decorations started out well. The sleeping holiday-talking Homer Simpson and holiday-decked-out My Size Barbie appreciated the help the moose gave them while guarding the tree (this is the fourth year in a row we’ve had no attacking incidents on the tree, by the way), and our plastic light-up Santa Claus seemed happy to have somebody his own size to stare down. But then, something strange began to happen. Each morning we found the snowman lying on the ground in a different spot in the yard. I had secured him to the ground the same way I secured the others. It hadn’t been windy. None of the other pieces were out of place. I couldn’t figure out what was happening, until one morning when I leaned over to pick up the snowman, I slipped in the snow and landed face to face with the him. His breath smelled like an old boot full of whiskey sitting in the sun for six hours and Slim Jims. Our snowman was a drunk!
I did not tell the kids, fearing it may ruin Christmas. But I couldn’t have a drunken snowman desecrating my lawn. Plus, I could tell my plastic Santa wasn’t too happy with him. I couldn’t lose my Santa. He pulls the whole front lawn decoration motif together. The last straw was when the snowman began trying to corrupt our cute little plastic light-up Christmas penguin. What would the cast of Happy Feet think? So, I sat the snowman down and gave him a stern talking to. I wasn’t sure it helped because all he did was stare at me with a mocking grin the entire time I scolded him. To my surprise, he remained standing in his spot the next couple of nights. It looked like I got through to him. Owning a drunken snowman is no different than raising children. You just need to love them and show them the way. And sometimes buy them stuff so they shut the hell up and leave you alone.
I thought all was well, so one night I planned some time for myself and headed out to a local pub. I was having a grand ole time whooping it up with the fellas and enjoying the holiday cheer. Later in the evening I happened to be wooing a fine lady at the bar. As we talked we moved closer and closer to each other. Right when I was about to move in for some sugar plums, I made the mistake of looking to my left. I don’t know why I did it – I just sensed something. There was the snowman standing on a bar stool staring at me. The sugar plum moment was destroyed. I could tell by the glazed over look in his eyes and by that maniacal smile that he was shit-faced again. I asked him what he was doing there. He said nothing. He just stared. Couldn’t he see I was with a fine lady? After a few moments of silence, I turned my back on him to try to pick up where we left off. The fine lady looked at me and said, “Your friend seems pretty drunk. You better take him home.” FOR THE LOVE OF JUDY!!! Realizing the sugar plums had gone stale, I closed my tab, which I noticed had eleven shots of whiskey on it that I had not ordered, grabbed the snowman by his radiating nose and dragged him out to the car. We didn’t speak a word to each other all the way home.
A few days later when my daughter came home from school, after being at her mom’s house for a few days, she asked me why the snowman was duct taped to the bush. “It’s an ancient Armenian tradition to bring good luck in the new year.” “Are we Armenian?” “We are now.”
Fortunately, my Christmas spirit survived the drunken snowman’s follies, but has faded since I stopped eating the holiday burritos. The important thing is that I had a loving holiday season with my family. And I now have a fiber optic moose, who has become a pretty good pal. And we will always have Judy.