By the way, our Secret Santa at work has devolved into a thinly veiled bitching session about management's idiosyncrasies. Everybody knows I hate bananas, so every year I get some frigging banana-related gift so that they can all snicker and get even with me without getting fired. This year they even organized the whole thing through a website that protected everyone's anonymity. I wish that damned Eric Snowden would come back and hack into the Secret Santa site; I bet there is a treasure trove of information in there.
Anyway, once we made it through Halloween, where I spent a week making a cow costume to go with some lame joke I can't even remember, it was time to think about Thanksgiving. Already dudes dressed as Santa Claus were showing up on car dealership commercials, where the car is wrapped in a big bow as if I am supposed to pick up a few on the way home to put under the tree. After all the drinking and carrying on at holiday parties this year, a new car and a tree are two things that do not go together.
We navigated our way through Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Financially Strapped Sunday, Moneyless Monday, Tapped-Out Tuesday, Wallet- Emptying Wednesday, Thieving-Bastard Thursday and Flat Broke Friday. Since then Paypal and I are not really pals anymore, and in fact we have barely said a word to each other.
We started to see all these ugly inflatable Christmas decorations on peoples' lawns. I told my wife somebody must have died of a brain embolism blowing all this shit up, and she said they use an electric blower for that. I said that sounds like a great invention. There was a blow-up creche with an inflatable Christ-child. I said, Jesus I'd hate to be the prick that pops Jesus by mistake.
There was a giant Saint Bernard and an air-filled Santa getting out of a helicopter. Is that how he rolls these days? Is Santa on LinkedIn? Is he on Facebook to find out if I've been bad or good? Does posting true things that the Republicans said make me bad or good? I had no idea what to expect present- wise.
Christmas Eve we went next door for a celebration with the neighbors' family, where we have been going so long that everyone's little kids think we are related to them. I could be an uncle once removed if they hadn't removed me so many more times than that.... Those kids probably expect gifts from us, and if so I have a closet-full of banana-related stuff for them.
It was so foggy on Christmas Eve I couldn't imagine trying to get around without a red-nosed reindeer with a light bulb for a nose to guide me. If the reindeer came from next door, by the way, I know how it got the red nose. At the DWI check-point, the officer tries to get to the truth:
"You there, with the red nose- how much you have to drink tonight?"
"Like, two beers."
"Where you coming from?"
"The North Pole."
"Where is that?"
"It's North of here."
"What's all that stuff in the back?"
"Those are presents- we have elves that make them in a sweatshop up there."
"This is an iphone- elves made an iphone?"
"They are magic elves, and that fat guy in the back seat is in charge of the whole thing."
"You know your story sounds ridiculous."
Christmas Day we dove into our presents. I admit that I am a horrible gift- giver. I basically project my wants and needs onto the recipient or give something that will indirectly benefit me. I don't do this on purpose, and I always hope that since I got you something useful to me, I will be more fun to be around and that will make up for the fact that I didn't get something useful to you.
Then we had a fantastic Christmas dinner at the Traveler's Rest, where for some reason they had the Christmas carols blaring so loudly you could hardly hear yourself think. If you've never heard "Silent Night" at 142 decibels, it's a paradox. By the way when they finally turned the music down I still couldn't hear myself think, so I'm looking into that.
After dinner we went to a local church, where they have a huge dinner for the homeless. Every year we volunteer on the cleanup crew. We have led such a relatively carefree life that we like to give something back to the community. And now that we've been doing it for four or five years now, I think we've kind of tipped the scales back in our favor, and not for nothing but I think it's time for the community to give something back to US. Just in case anyone from the community is reading this, I wear a size 11 shoe, and a 42 long in everything else. If it's a check I usually take large.
Incidentally, the song "Silent Night" was first performed on Christmas Eve of 1818 in Oberndorf, an Austrian village. The words were written by a priest named Josef Mohr. He took them to an organist named Franz Gruber, from a nearby town, and asked him to compose the melody, which he did. Mohr had attempted to write the accompaniment himself, but it came out sounding like "Smoke On the Water."