Santa Claus: CHRISTMAS KILLER
It's my favorite time of the year. The wind is blowing, I look absolutely fabulous in a variety of amusing sweaters, and the tiny children who ride past my window on their bicycles have gone into hibernation for the winter. Also, I had most of them killed for riding past my window.
The other thing I like about this time of year is obvious: it's coming up on Christmas. Now, for those of you who don't understand why I like Christmas so much, all I can say is that you've obviously never had the opportunity to go Christmas caroling with my family. And for those of you who have had that opportunity, all I can say is I'm sorry. And ask you to please re-think the restraining order.
Tempering my enjoyment of the time of year, though, is the fact that I'm away from my family. Not far away, or even away for a super-duper long time. Just far away enough to make me realize how sad I would be if I were farther from them. And how happy I would be to be closer to them. And how much the same I would be if I were exactly the same distance from them as I am right now.
Because Christmas is a time for family. For friends. For presents.
Ah, presents. The reason for the season. I mean, what says Christmas like a bunch of shrieking middle-aged yahoos* body-checking each other like members of the Federal Prison Hockey League** in order to save thirty dollars on an Xbox 360? What says Christmas like folks going to office parties where they will proceed to get completely blasted and act like shmucks in front of the people whose respect they depend on in order to function on a daily basis?
When did Christmas become more about Black Friday than about Silent Night? When did Christmas become more a day to grab-grab-grab than a day to give-give-give?
Of course, there are obvious culprits. People or entities*** who have become easy scapegoats to blame for the commercialization and denigration of "the most wonderful time of the year." Like Walmart, or the "liberal media," or Selena Gomez.
But it's not Walmart's fault. And it's not the fault of the "liberal media." It's probably at least somewhat the fault of Selena Gomez, but that conspiracy is so deep that I dare not speak more of it, for fear that hordes of Disney Channel Security Minions will appear at my door to drag me away and bury me next to Walt's cryogenically frozen head.
So whose fault is it (other than Selena Gomez's)?
Simple: it's Santa's fault.
I mean, think of it: we teach our children to wait with baited breath for a giggling fat guy who sneaks into people's houses while they sleep and rearranges stuff. Don't get me started on the fact that he clearly suffers from some kind of weird reverse discrimination ("You must be 'this' short to work here"), and that he ranks up there with the cruelest of all pet owners ("Yes? ASPCA? Is it a problem if I force my animals to drag my way-heavy toosh to several billion locations on a single night?").
Excited for Santa? This sounds like the kind of person we should teach them to call 911 about.
But worst of all is the simple fact that Santa teaches us to wait for presents to come. The first Christmas wasn't about people waiting for a guy with a thing for fur-lined crushed velvet outfits to come along and drop things underneath a tree we killed for the occasion.
The first Christmas was about a group of shepherds, who left their livelihoods behind to take a trip that would improve their lives.
The first Christmas was about a small family making do in a horrible situation, and somehow finding a way to make it all work.
The first Christmas was about a boy who left his father's home and went to a strange and hostile place where he would be taunted, tortured, and eventually killed... and did it on the off chance that he could make the people there better.
Christmas isn't about Santa. It isn't about presents. It isn't about waiting for the gifts to come. It is and always has been about going out and finding what needs doing, and doing it. About finding beauty, and elevating it. About giving of our selves instead of our stuff.
Christmas is my favorite time of the year. Because it reminds me how far I have to go. But leaves a star behind to light the way.
* Not to be confused with "Yahoo!" Please don't sue me, internet giant!
** I would totally watch those games.
*** Entities is a funny word. It makes me think of an alien making love to a Sasquatch. Because that's the way my mind rolls.
Michaelbrent Collings is an internationally bestselling novelist and screenwriter. You can find him on Facebook at facebook.com/MichaelbrentCollings, on Twitter @mbcollings, or you can sign up for his mailing list here.