'Twas the night before solstice and all through the co-op
Not a creature was messing the calm status quo up.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
Dreaming of lentils and warm whole-grain breads.
We'd welcomed the winter that day after school
By dancing and drumming and burning the Yule,
A more meaningful gesture to honor the planet
Than buying more trinkets for Mom or Aunt Janet,
Or choosing a tree just to murder and stump it
And deck it all out like a seasonal strumpet.
My lifemate and I, having turned down the heat,
Slipped under the covers for some well-deserved sleep,
When from out on the lawn there came such a roar
I slipped from my futon and rolled to the floor.
I crawled to the window and pulled back the latch,
And muttered, "Aw, where is that Neighborhood Watch?"
I saw there below through the murk of the night
A sleigh and eight reindeer, challenged of height.
At the reins of that sleigh sat a mean-hearted knave
Who treated each deer like some personal slave.
I'd seen him before in some ads for car loans,
Plus fast food, soft drinks and cellular car phones.
He must have cashed in from these mercantile chores,
Since self-satisfaction just oozed from his pores.
He called each by name, as if 'twere his right
To treat them like chattel enhancing his might:
"Now Donder, now Blitzen," and other such aliases,
Showing his true Eurocentrical biases.
With a snap of his fingers away they all flew,
Like Democrats served up brie or tofu.
Up to the rooftop they carried the sleigh
(The damage to my shingles is there to this day).
Out bounded the man, who went straight to the flue.
I knew in an instant just what I should do.
After donning my slippers, downstairs did I dash
To see this trespasser emerge from the ash.
His clothes were all covered with soot, well of course,
>From our wood-fueled alternative energy source.
Through the grime I distinguished the make of his duds--
He was trimmed all in fur, fairly dripping with blood!
"We're a cruelty-free house!" I proclaimed with such heat
He was startled and tripped on the logs at his feet.
He stood back up dazed, but with mirth in his eyes.
It was then that I noticed his unhealthy size.
He was almost as wide as when standing erect,
A lover of fatty fried foods, I suspect.
But that wasn't all to make sane persons choke:
In his teeth sat a pipe that was belching out smoke!
I could scarcely believe what had invaded our house--
This carcinogenic and overweight louse
Was so red in the face from his energy spent,
I expected a coronary right there and then.
Behind him he toted a red velvet bag
Full to exploding with sinister swag.
He asked, "Where is your tree?" with a face somewhat long.
I said, "Out in the yard, which is where it belongs."
"But where will I put all the presents I've brought?"
I looked at him squarely and said, "Take the whole lot
"To some frivolous people who think that they need
To succumb to the sickness of commerce and greed,
"Whose only joy comes from the act of consuming,
Thus sending the value of retail stocks booming."
He blinked and said, "Ho, ho, ho! But you're kidding."
I gave him a stare that was stern and forbidding.
"Surely children need something with which to have fun?
Or it's like childhood's over before it's begun."
He looked in my eyes for some sign of assent,
But I strengthened my will and refused to relent.
"They have plenty of fun," I cut to the gist,
"And your mindless distractions have never been missed.
"They take CPR so that they can save lives,
And they go door-to-door on used clothing drives.
"They recycle, renew, reuse and reveal
For saving the planet a laudable zeal.
"When they padlock themselves to a fence to protest
Against nuclear power, we think they're the best."
He said, "But they're children--lo, when do they play?"
I countered, "Is that why you've come in your sleigh,
"To bring joy to the hearts of each child and tot?
All right, open your bag; let's see what you've got."
He sheepishly did as I'd asked and behold!
A Malibu Barbie in a skirt of gold.
"You think that my girls will like playing with this,
An icon of sexist, consumerist kitsch?
"With its unnat'ral figure and airheaded grin,
This trollop makes every girl yearn to be thin,
"And take up fad diets, bingeing and purging
Instead of respecting her own body's urging
"To welcome the shape that her body has found
And rejoice to be lanky, short, skinny or round."
Deep from his satchel he produced up a toy,
Saying, "This is a hit with most every boy."
And what did he put in my trembling hand
But a gun from the BrainBlaster Power Command!
"It's a 'hit,' to be sure," I sneered in his face,
"And a plague and a pox on the whole human race!
"How 'bout grenades or some working bazookas
To turn all of our kids into half-wit palookas?"
I seized on his bag just to see for myself
The filth being spread by this odious elf.
An Easy-Bake Oven--ah, goddess, what perfidy!
To hoodwink young girls into household captivity!
Plus an archer play set with shafts that fly out,
The very thing to put a child's eye out.
And toy metal tractors, steam shovels and cranes
For destroying woodlands and scarring the plains,
Plus "games" like Monop'ly, Pay Day, Tycoon,
As if lessons in greed can't start up too soon.
And even more weapons from BrainBlasters Co.,
Like cannons and nunchucks and ray guns that glow.
That's all I could find in his red velvet sack--
Perverseness and mayhem to set us all back.
"We need none of this," I announced in a huff,
"No 'business-as-usual' holiday stuff.
"We sow in our offspring more virtue than this.
Your goods are things that they'll never miss."
The big man's expression was a trifle bereaved
As he shouldered his pack and got ready to leave.
"I pity the kids who grow up around here,
Who're never permitted to be of good cheer,
"Who aren't allowed leisure for leisure's own sake,
But must fret every minute--it makes my heart ache!"
"Enough histrionics! Don't pity our kids
If they don't do as Macy's or Toys 'R' Us bids.
"They live by their principles first and foremost
And know what's important," to him I did boast.
"Pray, could I meet them?" "Oh no, they're not here.
By now, they're on the roof, liberating your deer!"
At that Santa sputtered and pointed his finger
But, mad as he was, he had no time to linger.
He flew up the chimney like smoke from a fire,
And up on the roof I heard voices get higher.
I ran outside the co-op to see him react
To my children's responsible, kindhearted act.
He chased them away, and disheartened, dismayed,
He rehitched his reindeer (who'd docilely stayed).
I watched with delight as he scooted off then;
He'd be too embarrassed to come back again.
But with parting disdain, do you know what he said,
This overweight huckster when he took off in his sled?
This reindeer enslaver, this exploiter of elves?
"Happy Christmas to all, but get over yourselves!!"
by James Finn Garner
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