Nothing is as peaceful as when Christmas is over, when one has been forgiven for everything and can be normal again. –Tove Jansson
WHEN THIS WORLD CATCHES FIRE
BOOK THREE: SAVAGE NOXTOWN
CHAPTER TEN: PART FIFTY: KINGDOM COME
Count Victor Justin watched as Tipsy Smith gracelessly shuffled out from behind the bar and began sleepily installing a gigantic wreath on the cracked door window of the Seven Stars Saloon. The dusty green-gray moth-eaten wreath was adorned with sinister-looking glassine balls of a vaguely red hue. Count Victor Justin took this process as his clew to begin inveighing against the holiday season.
“Of all the swindles perpetrated upon the innocent by the wicked rulers of our sham-normal society, the worst is the so-called cheer of the Christmas season. Christmas–a time when everyone and their family are supposed to huddle together against the encroaching dark storm. Usually, they’re drunk. Always, it’s all an exercise in cupidity–your own family will devour you, and more quickly than most. Wsssht! What does it all truly signify?
“Now, don’t mistake me for no Anarchist. I have no brief against the Yellof who manages to accumulate a hoard of pretty polly. It takes a certain amount of physical and mental fortitude to turn the coppers into yaller boys.”
Here Count Victor Justin began smiling, and making a hissing noise with both cheeks.
“Christmas! Fauugh! What throws me out of countenance is all the foolish Yobs who insist that Christmas is more than just another cold and wet and miserable day in December. Don’t they know that they are simply participating in a mutual orgy of obligatory cheer? Christmas is the one of the biggest swindles ever perpetrated. Jesus wasn’t born in December. ‘The birthday of the invincible sun.’ Fauggh. It’s a bald-headed bunko scheme–and I’m a grifter who can smell out a rank imposture from twenty paces. What an excuse Christmas is! To hide the evil what’s in your heart on this one day–it’s the very essence of hypocrisy. ‘The Season of Sharing’–pah! To give presents, not out of fellow-feeling but out of obligation, is merely an empty feat. Giving gifts so you won’t lose face–I’m fairly certain that’s the very thing that Christ Almighty His own self preached against. And who loves Christmas the most? Children. That right there should inform you that it is a holiday for the weak and simple-minded. Mainly, idiots. It makes liars out of parents, a travesty of the Bible, and it mocks all secular authority with its grisly emphasis on holiday cheer above all else. ‘Do it for the Children.’ That’s the cry. As usual, weak-minded individuals insist on putting the cart before the horse. All this fuss–over a degraded Persian feast!
“And, speaking of a feast, doesn’t it strike you that it is the action of a caveman to greet the coming of early night and the dark day with the impulse to gorge and swill? I wouldn’t be surprised if monkeys did it too, assuming that there were any this far north. Yes, truly, Christmas is a fat man’s holiday. The sight of all the candy and nuts and puddings and nogs–that alone would make you put on twenty pounds.
“They say a fat man is always jolly. I say a fat man probably has a good deal to be jolly about. He is strong. He is prosperous. He takes up a good deal of space. When he talks in his booming voice, people are forced to listen. In fact, a fat man is a lot like…Santa Claus.
“At any other time of year Mr. Claus would be a clown in a circus, or a bearded fat man at the Carny freak show. But once a year they trot this red-and-white simulacrum to astonish the little shavers and everyone else for miles around is supposed to worship him. He shows up at your house when God’s not even awake and deposits his little ‘presents’. They say he’s some sort of Saint but he doesn’t sound like a Saint to me. More like a deranged cat burglar. With a penchant for cookies and Sherry wine. Not an honest ale-guzzler, like the rest of us. Those red cheeks and that red nose–that’s from being a drunk. The so-called Christmas Yellof is a Thieving Fat Drunk–and they worship him!
“Why can’t Santa be a long-legged beauty or, better still, a Gibson Girl? No, instead, he has to be a fat, bearded Yob who probably smells awful. A scarechild just a few steps removed from being a bona-fide Boogie Man. A big, fat, bloated high priest of ice and cold. A man who gives nice toys to rich children and does nothing at all for people who are starving.
“He’s an effete self-appointed member of the ruling class! With his fat man face, and his swollen liver, and his gouty feet, and his pretty pretty poison death candy! Santa Claus is a very lovely fairy tale, I suppose, and, as such, I suppose he’s no better and scarcely any worse than any other fairy tale the unenlightened masses pay heed to. Just because they are ignorant, doesn’t mean they are bad. Just helplessly stupid. In other words, they are prey for a clever Yellof as has got both eyes and mostly all of his own teeth. Contemplate the gleam in a lisping toddler’s eye as he dreams of ‘Thanta’. It is just like the gleam in a rich sucker’s eye when you tell him about a machine that prints undetectable U.S. currency. The very same!
“Having said all that, however, I must say that Christmas is the grifter’s favorite time of year. It’s a swindler’s holiday. You can get away with far more. Everyone is so full of the milk of human kindness that even the bluecoats are disinclined to be too harsh on a Yellof on the Sacred Day. The critical faculties tend to take their own Holiday during the season, and I find it most satisfactory a time to perpetrate all forms of skullduggery.
“What do I hope that Santa leaves for me under the tree? A sucker ripe for the plucking. I should snicker.
“Oh…where’s my manners? I almost forgot. ‘Merry Christmas!'”