Now that it’s December and snow is on the ground (still), I’d like to relate a true Christmas story (with apologies to my achristmasist readers) from when I was child that helped to shape the person that I am today.
‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house my sister and I were running around uncontrollably. We were five and six, respectively (I think), though we were anything but respectful of my parent’s wishes that we go to bed immediately. We wanted to stay up and see Santa Claus, despite my mother’s warnings that Santa wouldn’t come if we weren’t asleep.
My father tried to ignore all of our noise while attempting to watch TV. The smoke from his Salem Menthols encircled his head like a wreath, while he sipped his Seagram’s 7 and grumbled not the least bit a jolly old elf. He would be up all night assembling the items Santa brought — longer still if the Santa fan club’s demonstration were not broken up soon.
“Santa Claus! Santa Claus! We want to see Santa Claus!”
Suddenly Dad jumped up and exclaimed, “Santa Claus? Ain’t no fat fukker gonna break into MY house in the middle of the night!” He grabbed his .303 British army rifle, which like every gun in the house was always loaded, threw open the front door, and marched out onto the snow-covered front porch. “Click-click” went the bolt. A few seconds passed in silence as he surveyed the skies through the sights.
He returned through the door, a manic gleam in his eyes, and through the clenched teeth of his grin he breathed, “Got ‘im!” Then he returned the rifle to its place, and calmly resumed his seat, his smoke, and his liquor.
Despite my general cluelessness about most things, I was well acquainted with my Dad’s penchant for theatrics. Besides, I had already begun to have my doubts about the feasibility of the whole Santa gig. So I found this display almost, but not quite, amusing.
My sister, however, was crushed. “Daddy shot Santa! Daddy shot Santa!” She wailed through her tears.
My mother did her best to comfort us and assure us that Daddy did not, in fact, assassinate Saint Nick. And in the morning, the presents were all there as on every other Christmas.
But the event had more clearly called the question into my mind, and my nascent rationalism took it from there. Dad may not have shot Santa, but he put a bullet in my belief.