When I was a small boy and believed in Santa Claus, I loved the holiday. I’d go to bed early and wait for the big fat bastard to break into my apartment and bestow presents to me, placed neatly under my tree. I started to realize early that he had the same hand writing as my Mother. I was one of the last around my neighborhood to learn he was fake. Mortified in 4th grade by my teacher, she drolled on how Santa was fake and how ridiculous it was for parents to lie to their kids about the most generous man to have ever lived. I remember sitting there dumbfounded by the news, as all of the kids laughed with their missing tooth smiles and giggled at the notion of Santa Claus. When I went home that day, my Mother, who has always been combative, threw a fit and ended up walking me back to the school to fight with my teacher.
“How dare you tell my son Santa isn’t real!”
As a young adult, I was always a parent. I had my son when I was just 20, so I grew up fast and made sure he believed in Santa too. In my 20s, Xmas was great. We had two more kids and made sure all of them believed in the myth and we’d ham it up, telling stories about Santa and all the things he did for us when young. There was even the tale my Mother told me about being woken up in the middle of the night by my Grandfather, sharply pulling up the windows on Xmas eve — declaring “there is Santa — look — there he is!”
My Mother swore she saw Santa and his sleigh whirr through the winter sky.
Expenditures were manageable early on, since all they needed were a few toys and some whimsical items. As time elapsed and they got older, the burden of Xmas wore on me like watching a movie for the 40th time. I know the routine, but as my priorities in life changed — so did my opinion on this fucking holiday.
I’ve come around to the way of thinking that Scrooge was right all along. When I was younger, I believed Scrooge was the worst person who ever lived, up until the point he started throwing his money around and saving Tiny Tim. But now I think the miserly Scrooge, the industrious Scrooge, is something to admire.
Why go home early on Xmas even when there is work to be done?
Why pay your idiot workers more, when you can get said work for less?
Why is it Scrooge’s responsibility for ensuring the health of Tiny Tim?
That burden, inexorably, rests on the dusty shoulders of Tim’s idiot parents.
I reminisce of a time when the holidays filled my black heart with a bit of warmth. The ideal of Xmas season, Rudolph toiling hard with his red nose to ferry Santa into my house, was idyllic. Now I am plagued by routine that is wasteful and moribund. I’d much rather spend my time and money on travel or even charity, then spoil my kids even more with items they really don’t need.
Alas, it takes two to tango.