How My Granpa Ate Christmas.
June 24, 2013 § Leave a comment
My grandpa sat in his fancy velvet Santa suit, looking at himself in the mirror as he painted goo on his lip and took a big drag off his Salem cigarette.
“That word ‘Christmas’ always kinda sticks in my throat,” he said as the smoke leaked out of his mouth and nose. “Nobody knows when that damned baby Jesus was born anyway.”
He began to press the big, white handlebar moustache onto his lip. “Nobody really knows when them damn Macabees miscalculated how much oil they had left either. Calendars been all messed up a buncha times since then.”
He put the beard’s strap over his head, and pressed the sides into the goo on his cheeks, then pulled on that cool wig, and silly red hat. He was the best-looking Santa you ever saw. Didn’t wear no padding, and his suit and beard and stuff was rented from some big Hollywood costume place. He told all the kids he was the real Santa, that the others were all just stand-ins for him. He had this whole cockamamie back-story worked out: where he kept his reindeer downtown in this big meat locker, and how nervous it made them, how his sleigh was getting tuned up by Big Daddy Ed Roth, and all the labor troubles he was having with his elves.
The little kids bought it. They even brought their little friends to the little toy store to see him. He didn’t sit in any throne or anything though. He walked around bellowing that huge “ho ho” he had, and doing cartwheels on the sidewalk and almost causing car wrecks and stuff. Grandpa kinda bought it himself. He would watch the kids in the store, and pick a couple whose dads were like dead or something, so that they were all sad, and weren’t gonna get any Christmas presents; and then on Christmas eve, he’d take a bunch of the toys he got in trade for playing Santa, put em in this big old red sack he sewed, and just show up at those kid’s houses, then pull exactly what they wanted outta that bag. Man, you can bet those kids believed.
I guess my Granpa kinda hated his preacher-dad, and so he got to hate the baby Jesus too. But he loved Xmas, as he liked to call it. Plus a bunch of my dad’s friends were Jewish, and Afro American and atheist and Buddhist and stuff. It was always a mess at the school pageant over like what was too much baby Jesus stuff or too much Macabee stuff, or not enough Kwanza stuff. So Granpa put them all in that big red sack, shook it all up and poured out what he calls “Holly Days.”
It is cool cause when all the trees have lost their leaves and it is getting dark at dinner time, and so cold you’da died outside, Holly bushes make a bunch of red berries like they’re fighting back. Granpa says, all these holidays are right at this time to do just that, fight back the dying light. So, we light up a big Holly Days menorah with 12 candles instead of 8, and we have a Holly Day Tree, but we don’t put it up until Christmas Eve, when we hop a fence and steal it from a closed Christmas tree lot. Best of all, we get a present on every one of the 12 Holly Days.
12 like in that song. It starts on the Solstice day; the shortest day of the year, that’s day one. By then all the Muzak is playing Mannheim Steamroller and everybody already has their trees and lights and stuff, so we figure it’s time to get the party started. Usually the first couple’a gifts are not too hot, but we start right in lighting our candles and having special dinners, and talking about the principals and all that philosophical stuff my Dad and Granpa are so into. The first 3 are Unity, Kindness and Compassion. On Christmas Eve, it’s Hope, cause we hope we get some good stuff. Then on the day of, is Generosity, cause most everybody tries to be real generous with each other on that day. And after, it’s Gratitude, when we are grateful that we get to buy most of our presents when everything’s on sale.
Then, on those lost days between Christmas and New Years, Granpa put in his personal code: Truth Love and Courage. He says if we have the courage to always look for the truth and accept it with love, everything will always turn out for the best. I don’t know about that though, things can turn out pretty crummy sometimes, no matter what.
On the last three days, we kinda do the Jewish New Year where you’re ‘sposed to face your guilt and stuff and then Atone. That’s the 10th day, Atonement. We always have to discuss like whether or not it’s ok to throw apple cores but not orange peels in the bushes at the park and stuff. But on Forgiveness: New years Eve, we do have a party, and watch the ball drop and all kiss each other and stuff, cause it changes from Forgiveness to Redemption right then. And we still get presents, usually little ones, whatever’s left over, but sometimes it’s cool stuff people forget to get you and found at the sales.
Granpa’s too old to do Santa anymore; and Dad’s too skinny, and doesn’t really like people anyway. Some of my friends think it’s weird that we don’t celebrate Christmas, but we do. Holly Days is Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza Roshashannah and Ramadan all at once. My favorite part is The Stealing of the Tree, cause it feels like you’re doing something bad but you really aren’t cause they are just gonna have to pay for a dumpster to throw all those old trees in anyway.