Author Topic: Who Believes in Santa Claus?  (Read 3712 times)

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Who Believes in Santa Claus?
« on: December 21, 2006, 12:05:27 pm »
Edit 1/13/2007. A very big "Thank you" and a "Yeehaw" to Goadra, who discovered that the author of the piece posted below is named Margaret Morrison, and it was first published in something called "The Rune" in 1995. It was originally entitled "Visions of Sugarplums."

--J.W.

Somebody sent this to me a couple of years ago. I guess maybe posting/sharing it here violates some copyright law or other, but my intentions are good.

Wiccans/Neo-Pagans who are sensitive might not want to read it, but no offense is intended.

I know I can't read it without wanting to cry.  ::)

Peace and Happy Holidays to all!

--"J.W."


Who Believes in Santa Claus?

Five minutes before the Winter Solstice circle was scheduled to begin, my mother called. Since I'm the
only one in our coven who doesn't run on Pagan Standard Time, I took the call. Half the people hadn't
arrived, and those who had wouldn't settle down to business for at least twenty minutes.

"Merry Christmas, Frannie."

"Hi, Mom. I don't do Christmas."

"Maybe not--but I do, so I'll say it." she told me in her sassy voice, kind of sweet and vinegary at the
same time. "If I can respect your freedom of religion, you can respect my freedom of speech."

I grinned and rolled my eyes. "And the score is Mom -one, Fran - nothing. But I love you, anyway."

People were bustling around in the next room, setting up the altar, decking the halls with what I considered
excessive amounts of holly and ivy, and singing something like, "O, Solstice Tree."

"It sounds like a...holiday party." Mom said.

"We're doing Winter Solstice tonight."

"Oh. That's sort of like your version of Christmas, right?"

I wanted to snap back that Christmas was the Christian version of Solstice, but I held back.

"We celebrate the return of the sun. It's a lot quieter than Christmas. No shopping sprees, no pine
needles and tinsel on the floor, and it doesn't wipe me out. I remember how you had always worked yourself
to a frazzle by December 26."

"Oh honey, I loved doing all that stuff. I wouldn't trade those memories for all the spare time in the
world. I wish you and Jack would loosen up a little for the baby's sake. When you were little, you enjoyed
Easter bunnies and trick-or-treating and Christmas things. Since you've gotten into this Wicca religion,
you sound a lot like Aunt Betty the year she was a Jehovah's Witness."

I laughed nervously. "Yeah. How is Aunt Betty?"

"Fine. She's into the Celestine Prophecy now, and she seems quite happy. Y'know," she went on, "Aunt Betty
always said the Jehovah's Witnesses said those holiday things were pagan. So I don't see why you've given them up."

"Uh, they've been commercialized and polluted beyond recognition. We're into very simple, quiet celebrations."

"Well," she said dubiously, "as long as you're happy."

Sometimes long distance is better than being there, 'cause your mother can't give you the look that makes
you agree with everything she says. Jack rescued me by interrupting.

Hi, Ma." he called to the phone as he waved a beribboned sprig of mistletoe over my head. Then he
kissed me, one of those quick noisy ones. I frowned at him.

"Druidic tradition, Fran. Swear to Goddess."

"Of course it is. Did the Druids use plastic berries?"

"Always. We'll be needing you in about five minutes."

"Okay. Gotta go, Mom. Love you."

We had a nice, serene kind of Solstice Circle. No jingling bells or filked-out Christmas Carols. Soon
after the last coven member left, Jack was ready to pack it in.

"The baby's nestled all snug in her bed," he said with a yawn, "I think I'll go settle in for a long winter's
nap."

I heaved a martyred sigh. He grinned unrepentantly, kissed me, called me a grinch, and went to bed. I
stayed up and puttered around the house, trying to unwind. I sifted through the day's mail, ditched the
flyers urging us to purchase all the Seasonal Joy we could afford or charge. I opened the card from his
parents. Another sermonette: a manger scene and a bible verse, with a handwritten note expressing his
mother's fervent hope that God's love and Christmas spirit would fill our hearts in this blessed season.
She means well, really. I amused myself by picking out every pagan element I could find in the card.

When the mail had been sorted, I got up and started turning our ritual room back into a living room. As if
the greeting card had carried a virus, I found myself humming Christmas carols. I turned on the classic rock
station, but they were playing that Lennon-Ono Christmas song. I switched stations. The weatherman
assured me that there was only a twenty percen chance of snow. Then, by Loki, the deejay let Bruce
Springsteen insult my ears crooning, "yah better watch out, yah better not pout." I tried the Oldies station.
Elvis lives, and he does Christmas songs. Okay, fine. We'll do classical--no, we won't. They're playing
Handel's Messiah. Maybe the community radio station would have something secular humanist.

"Ahora, escucharemos a Jose Feliciano canta `Feliz Navidad'."

I was getting annoyed. The radio doesn't usually get this saturated with holiday mush until the
twenty-fourth.

"This is too weird." I said to the radio, "Cut that crap out."

The country station had some Kenny Rogers Christmas tune, the first rock station had gone from John and
Yoko's Christmas song to Simon and Garfunkel's "Silent Night," and the other rock station still had
Springsteen reliving his childhood. "--I'm tellin' you why. Santa Claus is comin' to town!" he bellowed.

I was about to pick out a nice secular CD when there was a knock at the door. Now, it could have been a
coven member who'd forgotten something.  It could have been someone with car trouble. It could have been any
number of things, but it certainly couldn't have been a stout guy in a red suit--snowy beard, rosy cheeks,
and all--backed by eight reindeer and a sleigh. I blinked, wondered crazily where Rudolph was, and
blinked again. There were nine reindeer. Our twenty-percent chance of snow had frosted the dead
grass and was continuing to float down in fat flakes.

"Hi, Frannie." he said warmly, "I've missed you."

"I'm stone cold sober, and you don't exist."

He looked at me with a mixture of sorrow and compassion and sighed heavily. "That's why I miss you,
Frannie. Can I come in? We need to talk."

I couldn't quite bring myself to slam the door on this vision, hallucination, or whatever. So I let him in,
because that made more sense then letting all the cold air in while I argued with someone who wasn't there.
As he stepped in, a thought crossed my mind about various entities needing an invitation to get in
houses. He flashed me a smile that would melt the polar caps. "Don't you miss Christmas, Frannie?"

"No." I said flatly, "Apparently you don't see me when I'm sleeping and waking these days. I haven't been
Christian for years."

"Oh, now don't let that stop you. We both know this holiday's older than that. Yule trees and Saturnalia
and here-comes-the-sun, doodoodendoodoo."

I raised an eyebrow at the Beatles reference, then gave him my standard sermonette on the appropriation
and adulteration that made Christmas no longer a Pagan holiday. I had done my homework. I listed centuries, I
named names--St. Nicholas among them.

"In the twentieth century version," I assured him, "Christmas is two parts crass commercialism mixed with
one part blind faith in a religion I rejected years ago." I gave him my best lines, the ones that had
convinced my coven to abstain from Christmassy clichés. My hallucination sat in Jack's favourite
chair, nodding patiently at me.

"And you," I added nastily," come here talking about ancient customs when you--in your current form--were
invented in the nineteenth century by, um...Clement C. Moore."

He laughed, a rolling, belly-deep chuckle unlike any department-store Santa I'd ever heard.  "Of course I change my form now and then to suit fashion. Don't you?  And does that stop you from being yourself?" He said, and asked me
if I remembered Real Magic, by Isaac Bonewits.

I gaped at him for a moment, then caught myself. "This is like `Labyrinth', right? I'm having a dream that
pretends to be real, but is only made from pieces of things in my memory. You don't look a thing like David
Bowie."

"Bonewits has this Switchboard Theory." Santa went on amiably, "The energy you put into your beliefs
influences the real existence of the archetypal--oh, let me put it simpler: `in the beginning, Man created
God’. Ian Anderson."

He lit a long-stemmed pipe. The tobacco had a mild and somehow Christmassy smell, and every puff sent up a
wreath of smoke. "I'm afraid it's a bit more complicated than Bonewits tells it, but that's close enough for mortals. Are you with me so far?"

"Oh, sure." I lied as unconvincingly as possible.

Santa sighed heavily.  "When's the last time you left out milk and cookies for me?"

"When I figured out my parents were eating them."

"Frannie, Frannie. Remember pinda balls, from Hinduism?"

"Rice balls left as offerings for ancestors and gods."

"Do Hindus really believe that the ancestors and gods eat pinda balls?"

"All right, y'got me there. They say that spirits consume the spiritual essence, then mortals can have
what's left."

"Mm-hm." Santa smiled at me compassionately through his snowy beard.

I rallied quickly. "What about the toys? I know for a fact they aren't made by you and a bunch of non-union
elves."

"Oh, that's quite true. Manufacturing physical objects out of magical energy is terribly expensive and breaks
several laws of Nature—She only allows us to do that on special occasions. It certainly couldn't be done
globally and annually. Now, the missus and the elves and I really do have a shop at the North Pole. Not the
sort of thing the Air Force would ever find. What we make up there is what makes this time a holiday, no
matter what religion it's called."

"Don't tell me," I said, rolling my eyes, "you make the sun come back."

"Oh my, no. The solar cycle stuff, the Reason For The Season, isn't my department. My part is making it a
holiday. We make a mild, non-addictive psychedelic thing called Christmas spirit. Try some."  He dipped
his fingers in a pocket and tossed red-gold-green-silver glitter at me. I could have ducked. I don't know why I didn't.  It smelled like snow, and pine needles, and cedar chips in the fireplace. It smelled like fruitcake, like roast
turkey, like that foamy white stuff you spray on the window with stencils. It felt like a crisp wind, Grandma's hugs, fuzzy new mittens, pine needles scrunching under my slippers. I saw twinkly lights, mistletoe in the doorway, smiling faces from years gone by. Several Christmas carols played almost simultaneously in a kind of medley. I fought my way
back to my living room and glared sternly at the hallucination in Jack's chair.

"Fun stuff. Does the DEA know about this?"

"Oh, Frannie. Why are you such a hard case? I told you it's non-addictive and has no harmful side effects.
Would Santa Claus lie to you?"

I opened my mouth and closed it again. We looked at each other a while.  "Can I have some more of that
glittery stuff?"

"Mmmm. I think you need something stronger. Try a sugarplum."  I tasted rum ball. Peppermint. Those hard
candies with the picture all the way through. Mama's favourite fudge. A chorus line of Christmas candies
danced through my mouth. The Swedish Angel Chimes, run on candlepower, say tingatingatingating. Mama, with a
funny smile, promised to give Santa my letter. Greeting cards taped on the refrigerator door. We rode
through the tree farm on a straw-filled trailer pulled by a red and green tractor, looking for a perfect
pine. It was so big, Daddy had to cut a bit off so the star wouldn't scrape the ceiling. Lights, ornaments,
tinsel. Daddy lifted me up to the mantle to hang my stocking. My dolls stayed up to see Santa Claus, and
in the morning they all had new clothes. Grandma carried in a platter with the world's biggest turkey,
and I got the drumstick. Joey's Christmas puppy chased my Christmas kitten up the tree and it would have
fallen over but Daddy held it while Mama got the kitten out. Daddy said every bad word there was but he
kept laughing anyway. I sneaked my favourite plastic horse into the nativity scene, between the camels and
the donkey. I came back to reality slowly, with a silly smile on my face and a tickly feeling behind my eyes like they
wanted to cry. The phrase "visions of sugarplums" took on a whole new meaning. 

"How long has it been," Santa asked, "since you played with a nativity set? -"

"But it symbolizes--"

"The winter-born king. The sacred Mother and her sun-child. Got a problem with that? You could redecorate it with pentagrams if you like, they'll look fine. As for the Christianisation, I've heard who you invoke at Imbolc."

"But Bridgid was a Goddess for centuries before the Catholic Church-oh." I crossed my arms and tried to
glare at him, but failed.  "You're a sneaky old elf, y'know?"

"The term is `jolly old elf.' Care for another sugarplum?"  I did. I tasted gingerbread. My first nip of eggnog the way the grown-ups drink it. Fresh sugar cookies, shaped like trees and decked with coloured frosting. Dad had been laid off, but we managed a lot of cheer. They told us Christmas would be "slim pickings." Joey and I smiled bravely when Mama brought home that spindly spruce. We loaded down our "Charlie Brown Christmas Tree" with every light and ornament it could hold. Popcorn and cranberry strings for the outdoor trees.  Mistletoe in the hall: plastic
mistletoe, real kisses. Joey and I snipped and glued and stitched and painted treasures to give as presents. We agonized over our "Santa" letters...by now we knew where the goodies came from, and we tried to compromise between what we longed for and what we thought they could afford. Every day we hoped the factory would reopen. When Joey's dog ate my mitten, I wasn't brave. I knew that meant I'd get mittens for Christmas, and one less toy. I cried. On December twenty-fifth we opened our presents ve-ery slo-wly, drawing out the experience. We made a show of cheer over our socks and shirts and meagre haul of toys. I got red mittens. We could tell Mama and Daddy were proud of us for being so brave, because they were grinning like crazy.

"Go out to the garage for apples." Mama told us,

"We'll have apple pancakes." I don't remember having the pancakes. There was a dollhouse in the garage. No
mass-produced aluminium thing but a homemade plywood dollhouse with wallpapered walls and real curtains and
thread-spool chairs. My dolls were inside, with newly sewn clothes. Joey was on his knees in front of a
plywood barn with hay in the loft. His old farm implements had new paint. Our plastic animals were
corralled in Popsicle stick fences. The garage smelled like apples and hay, the cement was bone chilling
under my slippers, and I was crying.

My knees were drawn up to my chest, arms wrapped around them. My chest felt tight, like ice cracking in
sunshine. Santa offered me a huge white handkerchief. When all the ice in my chest had melted, he cleared
his throat. He was pretty misty-eyed, too. "Want to come sit on my lap and tell me what you want
for Christmas?"

"You've already given it to me." But I sat on his lap anyway, and kissed his rosy cheek until he did his
famous laugh.

"I'd better go now, Frannie. I have other stops to make, and you have work to do."

"Right. I'd better pop the corn tonight, it strings best when it's stale." I let him out the door. The reindeer were pawing impatiently at the moon-kissed new-fallen snow. I'd swear Rudolph winked at me.

"Don't forget the milk and cookies."

"Right. Uh, December twenty-fourth, or Solstice, or what?"

He shrugged. "Whatever night you expect me, I'll be there. Eh, don't wait up. Visits like this are tightly
rationed. Laws of Nature, y'know, and She's strict with them."

"Gotcha. Thanks, Santa." I kissed his cheek again. "Happy Holidays."

The phrase had a nice, non-denominational ring to it. I thought I'd call my parents and in-laws soon and try
it out on them.

Santa laid his finger aside of his nose and nodded. "Blessed be, Frannie."

The sleigh soared up, and Santa really did exclaim something. It sounded like old German. Smart-aleck
elf.

When I closed the door, the radio was playing Jethro Tull's "Solstice Bells."

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!
« Last Edit: January 13, 2007, 01:25:51 am by Jeff Wrangler »
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

moremojo

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Re: Who Believes in Santa Claus?
« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2006, 12:27:21 pm »
That was a fun story, Jeff; I really enjoyed it. Thanks for this little early taste of eternal Xmas cheer!

Blessed be,
Scott

Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: Who Believes in Santa Claus?
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2006, 01:29:31 pm »
Thank you for the xcellent story, Jeff. Really got me in the Solstice--or whatever--spirit!! I love the "tingalingtingaling"!
Too much to do. . .I don't have time to get old!

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: Who Believes in Santa Claus?
« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2006, 02:00:44 pm »
Thank you for the xcellent story, Jeff. Really got me in the Solstice--or whatever--spirit!! I love the "tingalingtingaling"!


I wish I knew who wrote it so proper credit could be given, but it came to me without an author's name attached.  :(
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline Ellemeno

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Re: Who Believes in Santa Claus?
« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2006, 11:22:07 pm »
By the time she found the dollhouse, my eyes were too full to see.  Very ecumenical.  Thanks Jeff.


Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: Who Believes in Santa Claus?
« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2006, 05:47:33 pm »
By the time she found the dollhouse, my eyes were too full to see.  Very ecumenical.  Thanks Jeff.



Then you made it farther than I usually do!  :)
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: Who Believes in Santa Claus?
« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2014, 10:52:31 am »
Perhaps it's a little early to bump this thread, but, on the other hand, Saturday was St. Nicholas' Day, so here it is.

I really love this story, because somehow, at this time of year, I feel very, very connected to something--I really can't say what--that's very, very ancient.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2014, 01:24:41 pm by Jeff Wrangler »
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline CellarDweller

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Re: Who Believes in Santa Claus?
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2014, 09:20:18 pm »
very sweet story.  :)


Tell him when l come up to him and ask to play the record, l'm gonna say: ''Voulez-vous jouer ce disque?''
'Voulez-vous, will you kiss my dick?'
Will you play my record? One-track mind!

Offline Penthesilea

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Re: Who Believes in Santa Claus?
« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2014, 01:25:44 am »
Not too early, last Sunday was already the second Advent!
That's a sweet story, thanks for sharing and bumping. :)

Offline CellarDweller

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Re: Who Believes in Santa Claus?
« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2014, 09:10:34 am »
It's comin' on Christmas.


Tell him when l come up to him and ask to play the record, l'm gonna say: ''Voulez-vous jouer ce disque?''
'Voulez-vous, will you kiss my dick?'
Will you play my record? One-track mind!