I’m sorry, what’s that? What am I doin’ for Christmas? Here, wait a minute. Let me put this shovel away. Okay.
There, now we can talk a bit I guess. I mean, I got time. Heh.
My house? Wait. You’re wonderin’ why my house looks like it does the other fifty weeks out of the year? Why?
Oh, yeah, ‘cause you guys went to all the effort an’ expense to outdo each other with light shows an’ inflatable Snoopy dogs an’ all that, right? Yeah, I don’t do that anymore.
What? Oh come on, of course you’re tryin’a outdo each other.
Yeah, okay. Tell you what, you wanna call it a friendly competition or say you’re just tryin’ to, you know, brighten up the neighborhood or whatever, that’s fine with me. I mean, it doesn’t matter to me, am I right?
So to answer the original question, nothin’. I’m doin’ absolutely nothin’ for Christmas. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zero. Squat. The big p’zizzle, I heard a guy say a few days ago. Isn’t that weird, that you understand exactly what that word means without knowin’ what it means?
But as for the house, you know, I just didn’t wanna play this year. Or any year, really.
I mean, you gotta drag all the stuff out, you gotta put it all up. Takes what, half a day? A whole day? An’ that’s if it all works right. But it never does.
There are always lights out here an’ there, or somebody put a rock through Rudolph’s left eye or clipped off his legs so he’d fit under the branches over the roof.
But the branches get bigger, so you clip his legs shorter, an’ pretty soon you got a reinsnake layin’ up there on the roof. Heh. A reinsnake. Yeah, that’s pretty funny, ain’t it?
Nah, just off the top of my head, but then, I’m a cynic. That’s what Mabel always said. I mean says.
So then however long it took you to get it all up an’ workin’ right, if you ever did, you wait a week or maybe two an’ then you gotta drag it all back down an’ put it all back where it belongs.
Hey, you remember—I guess it’s been close to fourteen years ago now—I helped my youngest build that snowman in the front yard? Only the kid kept turnin’ the carrot backward. Said it was easier to quote “stick it in the middle of the guy’s face” than tryin’a “shove it in backward.”
But noses are s’pose to be more pointed on the end, I said. An’ you know what I got back?
“Hey ol’ man, it don’t make no diffadizzle.”
And I’m thinkin’, What?
And then I get, “What I like about it is givin’ it to the man in his big fat white round face.”
Where in the world is all this comin’ from? See, that was my very next thought.
But I never got a chance to ask because that’s when she started stabbin’ the snowman in the face. Like five or six times. Acted like she enjoyed it too.
And then you think, you know, snow people are s’pose to be a big part of the season. Help make things all merry an’ all that.
But then you’ve got Arnie down the street. You ever notice every year he builds a snowman that’s wrong in some way? Like he builds it with legs an’ then leaves a pegleg on one side? Or he scoops a chunk out of its head an’ splashes red food colorin’ up there? Between you an’ me, something’s seriously not right with that guy.
Anyways, that snowman I built with my daughter, that’s the last snowman I’m ever gonna build, I’ll tell you that. I mean, if she wants’a have murderous tendencies, you know, I guess that’s just who she is but I don’t wanna know about things like that.
It ain’t like I can call a shrink on her. Over stabbin’ a snowman in the face with a carrot? I don’t think so.
I gotta tell you, just between you an’ me, I was pretty glad when she went off to Vassar.
Do you realize I’ve lived here for fourteen years? Almost as long as you, eh? Yeah, long time.
Oh, I get it. Heh. I just now got it. That’s why you wondered why I wasn’t doin’ somethin’ for Christmas. ‘Cause I did it all those years, didn’t I?
But I never cared for it, y’know? I mean, I did it for the kids. But really, it’s all just a silly game as far as I’m concerned.
What? Yeah, a game. Of course it’s all a game.
Yeah, yeah, I know that. I mean, everybody knows it’s all about Jesus an’ his birthday an’ all that. I mean, you know, except his birthday is actually in August or somethin’. But I take your point.
On the other hand, I don’t recall anyone in the bible cuttin’ down a perfectly good tree an’ draggin’ it into the house. An’ they didn’t have credit cards, so we can be pretty sure they didn’t go into debt buyin’ a bunch of stuff nobody wants, right? Am I right? Heh.
Now don’t get all offended. I get the original intention of Christmas an’ all that, but it’s just another merchant’s holiday now. An’ you know that. C’mon. Everybody knows it.
But you’re right. Hey, when you’re right, you’re right. Nobody talks like that. They don’t, do they?
Know why? ‘Cause it’s easier just to gut it through than be honest an’ have your whole family lookin’ at you like you have two heads. Nobody needs that. Heh.
Whaddayou mean, especially at this time of year? You wouldn’t mind ‘em thinkin’ you’re off in the brain pan the rest of the year? C’mon, man.
Hey look, it’s just you an’ me standin’ here right now, a’right? An’ I can guarantee you I’m not gonna tell your wife what you say. Heh. She wouldn’t believe me anyhow. She’d think I was tryin’a corrupt you or somethin’.
But seriously, all this Christmas nonsense, I mean the way it is today, it’s all just a game. A merchant’s holiday an’ a game. An’ games are for kids, right?
But you an’ me, see, we’re grownups. I mean, we could be down at the local tavern havin’ a beer an’ shootin’ a game of pool right now. Right this very moment.
Oh, sure you can. Sayin’ “I can’t” is about the easiest thing there is.
But yeah, I understand. It would upset your wife. ‘Course I wouldn’t mind if she came with, either, y’know? Wouldn’t matter to me as long as we got to knock a few balls around the felt. In fact, I’m goin’ down there as soon as I finish here.
Oh, nothin’. Just some stuff I’m doin’ out back.
But the whole Christmas thing, you know, frankly, I spent a lot of years lookin’ forward to the time when the little monsters would be gone. I mean, I did my job, right? They made it to adulthood, they’re alive, an’ they aren’t in jail, at least to my knowledge.
Well, except that youngest one. She doesn’t figure out some things pretty quick, I’d wager she’ll be the first to live in striped sunshine. I mean, stabbin’ a snowman in the face—what’s the world comin’ to?
But mine are all grown an’ gone. An’ dollars’ll get you donuts they’re already lyin’ to their own kids, eh?
About what? C’mon, man. How about teachin’ ‘em it’s not only acceptable, but they should be happy that a grossly overweight bearded man with a boozy complexion is gonna sneak into their house in the dead of the night. I mean, is that a hoot, or what? Think about it.
Sorry, I didn’t mean to laugh. But seriously, the best most people can say to that is, “Um, but he’s bringin’ presents,” right? An’ that’s what you were about to say, wasn’t it? Be honest now.
See, thing is, I can drive out to the prison an’ pick up any number of guys who will be more than happy to tell you they’re bringin’ presents if that’ll get you to let ‘em sneak into your house in the dead of night.
Oh yeah, yeah, I know it’s just a thing. C’mon. I was kiddin’, you know, but seriously, that’s the best they could come up with when they started this whole Saint Nick thing? Hey, maybe that’s why they slapped the “saint” thing on him, right? So maybe nobody’d notice he looks like he just escaped from an institution somewhere.
But anyways, with the kids gone, what’s the use, right? To me, there goes the reason for everything about Christmas that isn’t about the big man’s birthday. An’ again, that’s actually in May or somethin’.
Think about it. Why drag out the tree? I mean, you know that ain’t a real tree, right? An’ if you do have a real tree, before you get too high an’ mighty, what’s the point of it all? I mean, why kill a livin’ thing just to drag it into your house an’ put its cadaver on display for a week or so? An’ string lights on it for Christ’s sake?
Sorry. But not really. I mean, that’s the whole point, right? It isn’t for Christ’s sake.
I swear, if karma was anywhere close to fair, eventually Earth would be invaded by trees in spaceships. They would land right over there in the field, an’ they would herd us all into farms. Then once a year, they’d all queue up to select one of us. Then some poor, underpaid worker tree in coveralls would whip out a chainsaw to cut you off just above your ankles.
Then they’d wrap you in ropes to keep your arms from flappin’ around, tie you to the top of a minivan, an’ take you home.
Whaddya mean what am I laughin’ about? That’s some funny stuff right there.
No, it ain’t sick. Are you kiddin’ me? Trees with chainsaws wreakin’ vengeance on humans for millennias of butchery is sick? Trees with chainsaws? C’mon, man, you gotta see the humor in that.
Well, okay. You don’t have to think it’s funny if you don’t want to. But you do know your wife isn’t listenin’ right now, right? It’s okay to think something’s funny if you want to an’ if your wife ain’t around.
C’mon, man, lighten up. I’m jokin’. I don’t know where your wife is. For all I know she might be in the tree above you, listenin’.
Ha! I can’t believe you looked up.
Anyways, when they get you home—
Who? The trees, of course.
Well I wasn’t finished yet. So when they get you home, they’d drag your bleedin’ body into the livin’ room. An’ all the while they’d be complainin’ if any of your blood got on the carpet. See, ‘cause your blood’s like their sap. Exactly, in fact. How many times have you let a curse word slip because the tree you murdered dared to get your hands sticky?
Hey, I’m jokin’, I’m jokin’.
But seriously, then they’d stand you in a special container an’ screw bolts into you lower legs at various angles so you’ll stay upright. Can’t have you tiltin’ over. Heh.
And then out come the lights. Imagine havin’ a twinkler or two danglin’ just beneath your eye. Imagine havin’ popcorn strung all over the place an’ plastic chrome “icicles” draped everywhere. What the hell is that stuff made of, anyways? I mean, seriously?
So anyhow, how festive would Christmas seem then?
Don’t answer. I’m just kiddin’ anyhow. It’s nothin’ to get into an argument about. I mean, you’re gonna celebrate your way an’ I’m gonna not celebrate my way, right? So we’re good on that.
Oh, an’ I almost forgot. Let’s get back to the allegedly jolly old fat man for a minute. I mean, just look at—
What? Whaddya mean what do I mean by allegedly? The guy’s so huge he’s on the verge of explodin’ for Christ’s sake. Oh, sorry. There it is again. Can’t be comfortable gettin’ slapped over an’ over with that Christ’s sake thing, eh?
But seriously, the Santa guy’s gotta be close to death. He can barely breathe, an’ you know he can’t get up in that sleigh without an elf with an attitude drivin’ a forklift. An’ he’s s’pose to be jolly?
Whaddya mean, what about his nose an’ cheeks? What about ‘em?
Wait. His nose an’ cheeks? That’s why you thinks he looks jolly?
No no no. The word you’re lookin’ for is “rummy,” pal, not jolly. The guy looks like he just came off a three-day bender. An’ he looks that way All the Time. Think about that for a minute. This is the guy you want sneakin’ into your house at night? You don’t love your kids, do you? You’re hopin’ he’ll take one. Heh.
Hey, I’m kiddin’, man. I’m kiddin’. C’mon.
And seriously, look at what the guy wears. I mean really? A red, fake-velvet suit with a black plastic belt? An’ what’s that white fur all about? He’s got white fur at the collar, white fur at the sleeves, white fur at the seam goin’ down the middle. Is that a lot of fur, or what?
You ever think about what kind of horror that must send through little rabbits an’ polar bears, seein’ a suit like that? Maybe the fabric of the actual suit is red to hide the blood leakin’ from recently skinned otters or somethin’. Ever think of that?
I don’t know. I guess they could have otters at the North Pole. But that’s the whole point, okay? The place ain’t real anyways.
But hey, to each his own. You wanna believe in Christmas, it’s no skin off my teeth.
And actually, I got no problem with believin’ in Christmas either. Like we keep hintin’ around, it’s like “Christ’s mass,” am I right?
Whaddayou mean you don’t know? Of course it is. I mean, the words are right there. Christ. Mass.
Anyways, what I don’t believe in, what I find outright silly, is that a bunch of adults still drag in Christmas trees an’ lights an’ all that nonsense when the kids are gone. I just don’t see the purpose in that.
Then they drain their checkin’ an’ savin’s accounts an’ overload their credit cards buyin’ each other stuff. An’ most of what one of ‘em buys, the other one doesn’t want or need. An’ they know it, but they do it anyhow.
And there’s definitely no surprise involved. You know three hunnert an’ sixty-four days in advance, right? On December 25th, you’re gonna get to open a bunch of presents. An’ as the time draws closer, you hint an’ hint an’ hint, an’ you really want what you’re hintin’ for, but you want to be surprised too.
And if you dropped hints an’ you don’t get what you want, you’re disappointed. An’ if you do get what you hinted for, you’re disappointed because you weren’t surprised. I mean, it’s a lose-lose situation.
Seriously, wouldn’t you rather just go buy what you need or want when you need or want it so you don’t have to do without while you wait for a merchants’ holiday to roll around? That’s what I do. Why wait a week or a month or a year an’ then hope the other person gets the right thing?
For that matter, how about this? How about when you accidentally find out what your wife wants or needs, how about you go buy it for her right then? You know, I mean you can even wrap it up if you want. No law against that, right?
An’ then you surprise her with it. Put an unexpected smile on her face. No law against that either. Plus, it’ll be a lot more satisfyin’ than that fake smile you get when she opens a bagga socks on Christmas mornin’ because you didn’t bother to check her personals drawer an’ find out she already has sixteen pairs of socks in there.
And you can use bright red an’ green Christmas paper with sparkles an’ ribbons or you can use springtime flowery print paper or whatever. It doesn’t matter, see. The purpose of the paper is only to extend the mystery a little longer, right? You could turn all the wrappin’ paper inside out an’ most people wouldn’t care. You could use newspaper if you wanted.
I mean, the pretentious ones would say somethin’, act like they care, somethin’ to make ‘em feel superior. But in reality? Nah, they don’t care. C’mon, the paper’s an obstacle, that’s all. It’s between them an’ the gift. They just wanna get rid of the paper as quickly as they can so they can get on with seein’ what you got for ‘em.
And when they do get it open, if you bought it for Christmas, whether they really like it is strictly a crap shoot. Seriously.
I mean, let’s get past all the fake crap an’ talk real here, a’right? Most people don’t really like what they get for Christmas. They appreciate the sentiment an’ they’re glad you thought of ‘em an’ all that, but chances are, they don’t like the actual present.
But say you buy it on the 22nd of April. An’ say you give it to the recipient on the 23rd of April. Now her birthday’s in, like, October or somethin’, an’ the 23rd ain’t special for any other reason, see. Now that’s a special present. ‘Cause it’s somethin’ she wants or needs, an’ it’s somethin’ she was recently thinkin’ about, an’ she didn’t have to wait for some lame merchant’s holiday to receive it.
An’ that’s ‘cause you’re a carin’ partner, see. You care. That’s how she’ll see it. You cared enough to go out of your way to recognize what she wanted when she mentioned it. Then you cared enough to go further out of your way to actually track it down an’ buy it for her.
And that, my friend, that is what makes a day special.
See, people got it all backwards. With all this merchants’ holiday crap—you know, Christmas, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, all that—they got people thinkin’ they gotta buy a special present. But it ain’t about the present, see.
The only reason the present’s important at all is ‘cause’a how it makes the day special. It makes a special memory of a day. It’s all about the day.
When it’s the right present, the present will automatically be special. An’ when you give it to her for no reason at all, it makes the day special. Because it makes her feel special. See?
Yeah, of course I’m right. But I don’t have high hopes that you guys are gonna break out of the cycle. I mean, I did, but you other guys? I don’t think so.
I mean, we got different histories, right? I mean, all of us got different histories, but mine’s way different from all of you guys. I been breakin’ outta cycles for awhile, y’know? The first one, the big one, was fourteen years ago. I mean, the choice of goin’ upstate or movin’ out here to the desert, which one would you take? Heh.
What? Oh, yeah, yeah. I think I heard her callin’ you too. Hey listen, I’ll talk with you later, a’right?
Anyways, I just gotta finish up out back an’ then I’ll be down at the tavern. Bud’s. You know it, right?
Yeah, okay. Well, I’ll be down there. Probably be there in about an hour. You know, maybe a little longer, but not much.
Nah, Mabel won’t be there. Yeah, you know, she’s got a headache or somethin’ like that. But hey, you can bring yours if you need to. You know, like I said, as long as I get to shoot a few games I don’t care.
Yeah, yeah, I’ll pass on your greetin’s an’ salutations when I see her, you know, whenever that is. No problem, you know.
Like I said, she’s visitin’ her mother or somethin’ like that.
She got a headache? Oh, right, right. Yeah, I guess she told me that on the phone. You know.
Yeah, hey, be seein’ you, eh?
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