Your Favorite Christmas Tale

I am still supposed to be avoiding keyboarding, so no blog today. Sorry, guys, but this is one time I’m minding the doctor. Shoulders aren’t something to mess with when going through the post-op rehab bit. Anyway, I’m in need of entertaining. So tell me your favorite Christmas tale. Or suggest a great Christmas movie or story. The floor is now yours.

Featured Image by Michelle Maria from Pixabay

 

35 comments

  1. Larry Correia’s ‘The Christmas Noun” series comes to mind, if only because, ahem, I will admit to reading the sort of books that inspired his rant/story. A little of “The Christmas Box” and so on go a long way.

  2. Mall Santa
    Pam Uphoff

    Copyright © 2011 Pamela Uphoff
    All Rights Reserved
    ISBN
    978-0-9839469-4-6

    This is a work of fiction. All characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional. Any resemblance to real people or events is purely coincidental.

    The Suburban reentered normal space with a loud thump.
    Eldon had come flying out of drifting trans-dimensional bubbles enough times now to expect velocity and position problems.
    So this time he was seat-belted in, one foot on the accelerator, the other on the brake, both hands on the wheel. Ready to levitate. The undercarriage hit the ground and he hit the brakes as the Suburban bounced back up. He managed to not hit the car facing him.
    He was surrounded by cars. Slow or stopped cars. Honking, drivers making threatening gestures. He gave the area a quick scan for other dangers, then a slow stare of disbelief. It was solid cars for miles. A large building cut diagonally across the huge parking lot. The largest sign read “Northside Mall.”
    He’d been injured and floating in the “inbetween” between parallel worlds for awhile. He wouldn’t have come out of his healing sleep at all if he hadn’t run out of food. He tugged on his beard. Judging by the length, it must have been months.
    He spotted movement in the parking lot. People were leaping out of cars and screaming at him. He hopped out to avoid being trapped in the Suburban. He obviously couldn’t get away in it, but that didn’t mean he was going to abandon it.
    He grabbed a trans-dimensional bubble as it floated by, whipped it over the Suburban and stuck the bubble on his arm. The cursing of drivers stuck behind him died abruptly. He slid in between the parked cars and put several rows of cars between himself and the hostile types.
    The first thing he had to do was get some local money, and then he needed to get something to eat. He limped toward the “mall.” His head was pounding, not surprising, since he was starved enough to have completely woken from his healing sleep. And he could feel the ache growing in his left leg. I need another three months of deep sleep, at least. He looked down at his pale blonde beard. Must have been drifting for six months.
    Inside, the mall was just as crowded as the outside. Lots of men and women in the jostling crowd were wearing jeans. Another example of the leakage of information across the dimensions.
    Some things like blue jeans were popular everywhere. His shirt was within reach of what he could see as well, although he didn’t see any other men wearing bright red. He had cash from a dozen Earths, maybe he could try one. He strolled in the direction of food smells. Looked sideways at the money people were using to pay for food. He reached inside the Suburban bubble and found the bubble with the money stored in it, and pulled out the bills that looked the most like what people were using.
    People were staring at him. No doubt it had looked odd, his arm disappearing as he reached into another dimension. His head hurt too much to care. A few minutes later, he was tucking into something called a burrito. Delicious. He ordered five more, and another huge “coke.” It took most of his matching cash. He reluctantly decided against trying one of the other versions. While he really wasn’t worried about fitting in, he didn’t want to get arrested. It would complicate stocking the larder immensely.
    And he was still getting odd looks. He tugged at his beard. Not many men with facial hair this long, and his hair hair had grown out long as well. Or maybe it was the combination of his pale blond hair and beard with the darker than average complexion. He’d encountered all sorts of confusion from people who couldn’t pigeonhole his race, and thus couldn’t decide if they were prejudiced against (or more alarmingly) for him.

    Well, it hardly mattered. He just needed to find a way to get money, load up on food and get back to sleeping, drifting and healing.
    Was there a grocery store in this maze of shops? He strolled and looked. There were posters all over, about Christmas sales. A lot of them contained a fat fellow with a white beard, wearing red. There was some big attraction ahead, a zigzag line of parents and children waiting to get up to some stage thing. He circled around the back to avoid the crowd.
    “I quit, I quit. That’s the last kid that’s going to pee on me! I’ve had it!” The man stomping around the wing of the stage was pulling off a red cap, and throwing it at the protesting girl behind him. He also peeled off the white wig and bushy white beard, the red and white jacket, the pillow that plumped him out and made him look fat, the red pants . . . Ah, ha! The guy from the posters.
    “You can’t! Look at the line! You can’t leave me in the lurch like this!” The girl was all dressed in green with a green cone hat drooping over one shoulder.
    “Then grab a new Santa, some one here must need the money enough to be utterly humiliated! Take him. He’s a natural!” He jabbed a finger at Eldon and stalked off.
    The girl looked around hopelessly, then her gaze stopped on Eldon. “Do you need a job? Noon to nine PM. Eleven dollars an hour?”
    Eldon touched his beard. It was pretty pale at the moment, but certainly not white like the fake beard. It made a nice contrast with his dark skin, he thought. But I’m not that fat! “Umm, sure. What do I do?”
    “Laugh and ask kids what they want for Christmas. You know, ho, ho, ho.” She ran him through the script twice while getting him into the red jacket. The pants were damp, and she cast a look of despair at his jeans and crammed the red hat thing on his head and adjusted the flopping part carefully.
    “Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas!” Someone is going to have to explain this “Christmas” thing to me pretty quick. But at least I can’t get into much trouble.
    The first kid to approach was clearly terrified of the weirdo in the hat.
    Eldon grinned. “Ah, c’mon, the hat isn’t that scary, is it?”
    The kid grinned back, but didn’t want to sit on his lap. No Problem. He bent over and cupped an ear. “What do you want for Christmas? An ex what? Don’t you want one that works right now? What’s it a box of?”
    The boy sniggered, snatched the lollipop the girl offered, and ran off.
    “Stick to the script!” the girl hissed.
    The little girl who came up next climbed right in his lap and rattled off a string of things she wanted, batted her eyelashes and dimpled at him. Eldon was betting the little charmer’s dad was getting her all that and more.
    The next kid was in a wheelchair. “Dang, I mean, ho, ho, ho! I think you need some of Santa’s special elixir.” He pulled out a bottle of that wine, snatched a lollipop from the hyperventilating girl and anointed the treat. “There you go. Merry Christmas!”
    “You can’t do that! You can’t give a child alcohol!” The girl sat down abruptly. Panting.
    Eldon found a paper bag in one of his bubbles. “Breathe into this. Don’t worry. It’s a von Neumann’s multi-biorepair in a support medium. Which just happens to be wine. Ho, ho, ho! What do you want for Christmas, little boy?”
    “I think your elf is sick. I want a medical kit so I can play doctor.”
    “Yeah, she’s cute but playing doctor with her would get you into a ton of trouble. Trust me. How about a real first aid kit and survival book?”
    The boy’s mother looked alarmed, but the boy perked up and looked interested.
    The elf recovered five children later, but suffered a relapse when he sprinkled “Magic Fairy Dust” over a girl’s head to cure her allergies.
    Eldon remembered all the catch phrases other people on late industrial age worlds had used to explain away his nanotech before, and applied them liberally. “It’s psychological, you know? Sleight of hand. You see what you expect to see. The placebo effect.”
    “But you can’t claim to be healing them! Just, just say, ho, ho, ho, and we’ll get through today without getting sued.”
    “Jeez. All right. Don’t have a cow. Reindeer. Whatever. Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas.”
    He only brought out the wine four more times. And he used the “magic words” “Please and Thank You” when sprinkling the allergen reset powder. He collected glares every time he deviated from the script. The green girl—people kept calling her an elf—was definitely not into this Jolly Season all the colorful posters had been going on about.
    At nine, quitting time and time for the mall to close, he walked down the line giving out lollipops, and scattering generalized healing, allergy and weight loss powders. This book—this collection of nearly parallel worlds—seemed to have an awful lot of just-barely-sick kids. Weird, when this sort of World usually had tons of doctors and hospitals. The elf paid him cash for five hours work, and said that she was going to try to find someone who wasn’t so weird, but that if he came by just before noon, she might hire him for one more day.
    It seemed like a reasonable way to earn money. He could grocery shop then do the eat and sleep thing for awhile. He stuck the Suburban’s bubble onto the outside of the mall, and climbed back in. It was a cheap place to sleep, and he was used to it. He adjusted the bubble’s time dilation so that he experienced just a bit more time than the outside. Ah! An extra hour of sleep.
    In the morning he cleaned up in the nearest men’s room and changed clothes. Breakfast in the food court. Ummm, donuts! He ate lunch early and limped down to Santa Claus’s stage.
    The elf turned her back on him and concentrated on getting another man ready to ho, ho, ho to the kids who were already lining up. Eldon grabbed some nachos and sat back to watch the man flub his lines and scare the little kids. He lasted an hour, before he quit. At least this one didn’t throw the costume at the elf. She glared around at Eldon and crooked a finger.
    “Hi. I’m Chrissy. Would you like a job?”
    “Hi, I’m Eldon. Yeah, that was fun yesterday.”
    He was careful to keep up the ho, ho, hoing, but kidded with the kids and snuck general good health, allergy and detox powders into the lollipop box, so he only had to produce the wine three times.

    The elf sighed as she slumped, exhausted in the little room behind the stage. Every hour they took a five minute break.
    “I wanted this Christmas to be special. To be perfect.” Dark circles under her eyes. Sickness or grief?
    “You look like you need something to eat.”
    She glared. “I’m too busy to stop, and I don’t dare take my eyes off of you! Look. If the parent looks like the kid might get it, say that you’ll talk to the elves. If the parent looks like she’s thinking ‘no way in Hell,’ you say you’ll check your list.’ Don’t look so blank. Of course Santa has a list.”
    Eldon tsked and reached into the pouch he’d worn today to keep everything handy, without obviously reaching into nowhere. “Have a donut, and some chocolate milk. You’ll need your strength to keep up with me.”
    She glared, and ate it.
    “So, tell me about this Christmas thing. I gather it’s a day when everyone gives gifts, which means they also receive gifts, and everyone seems to have gone bonkers over it all?”
    “It’s an old tradition . . . Well, it started with some old saint in, I think, Norway. Saint Nicolas. Who gave presents to children to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.”
    Eldon blinked uncertainly. He’d certainly heard people refer to Jesus or Jesus Christ, generally in an expression of exasperation. He’d figured it was a mild curse, common on a lot of Worlds. Strange twist, here.
    “So everyone started doing it, and it got out of hand. Now we have this insane three day weekend shopping spree after Thanksgiving. And it goes on for about a month at a slightly slower pace, until Christmas Eve, when Christ was born. I suppose you do that Kwanza thing?”
    “I don’t know, what is it?”
    She glared, and led him back to his “North Pole” throne.
    She was whimpering by the tenth kid. Hey, it wasn’t his fault he’d gotten a run of kids with major problems. He was really getting into this Santa thing.

    “Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas.” Today, the boy was fine, it was the father in the wheelchair, and the sad eyes in his mother’s face. He shook the Father’s hand, grabbed a lollipop and anointed it for him. Wink. “Santa’s magic elixir.”
    He snatched two lollipops for the son and the mother, she looked like she could do with a bit of a pick me up, not to mention sugar.
    A man ignored the line and stalked up to Eldon. “You! You’re going to hear from my lawyer, you lying snake oil salesman.”
    “What?”
    The elf dropped her lollipops, but anything she said was drowned out.
    “Magic spell to cure her asthma, my ass. She keeps running off without her inhaler. My Ex will sue me. I’m supposed to keep her inside and warm. I’ll be lucky to have any visitation rights left if something happens.”
    Eldon tried to sort that out. “How does she feel?” Had the nanos been corrupted, somehow?
    “She feels fine, I’ve never seen her so active, it’s driving me nuts.”
    “You’re complaining because she feels good? What kind of father are you?”
    The man hauled back and took a swing at him. Obviously an amateur. Eldon leaned aside, grabbed his arm and redirected his momentum. The elevated floor of Santa’s North Pole quivered as he landed flat on his back.
    “Whoa! Santa knows Judo!” A boy in line sounded impressed.
    The man crawled back to his feet. “My lawyer will get you,” he wheezed, and hobbled off.
    The elf rubbed her back, and grimaced. “I told you to stick to the script.”
    He reached to give her a friendly backrub, but snatched his hand away when she glared. He made a note to stock up on donuts, her face was thin, and she looked tired. Except when she was mad at him.
    The next boy wanted a puppy. Eldon saw an opportunity.
    “Dogs are a lot of responsibility. Do you have a fenced yard? Will you pick up his poop?” He looked skeptical at the boy’s eager nod. “I’ll check my list.” Poor kid went all wide-eyed. Eldon pulled some papers out of his pouch. Made a show of reading them. Nodded. Put them back in the pouch, reached deep through double-layered bubbles and pulled out one of the puppies. “There you go.”
    The boy whooped, grabbed the puppy carefully, and walked off. The mother scurried after him, glancing back twice with wide-eyed looks of disbelief.
    “Please don’t do that again,” the Elf whimpered.
    “Don’t worry, there are only fourteen puppies.” Eldon ignored her sob.
    “You have more puppies?” The next little girl looked eager.
    Mother rolled her eyes. “Fluff’s a bit old to have to deal with a puppy, don’t you think?”
    Eldon shook his head. “Actually an old dog will train a puppy by example. Makes it very easy for you. And the old dogs like companionship too.” He reached for the next puppy. They were only slightly genetically engineered, so it wasn’t like they’d be strange. Smarter than normal, loyal and protective. Ahem. Large.
    The next three kids were ordinary, the fourth had an odd degenerative problem with his eyes and was starting to lose his vision. Fortunately he rattled on for long enough for Eldon to work out a microtelekinetic fix for the bad gene. The next kid got his lollipop anointed.
    This was really kind of a fun job. Maybe he’d stick around for the whole month. Maybe he could get some wine into the Elf. She’d be cute if she’d just stop scowling at him.

    Near the end of the first week, a pair of men in suits advanced on the elf. The one in the lead handed her a sheaf of papers. “This is a restraining order, prohibiting any further representation of magical healing and the distribution of dangerous substances.”
    The second man was wringing his hands. “Chrissy, you have to do this, or I’ll have to toss you out of the mall. Just, just, behave.” He frowned at Eldon. “Santa can’t go around claiming to magically restore a kid’s eyesight. That’s just cruel.”
    “Why don’t we take a break and talk this over where the kids can’t hear?” Eldon stepped around to the tiny break room. The elf was reassuring the kids that Santa would be right back, as the two men followed Eldon.
    Trans-dimensional bubbles were tailor-made for storing problems. Their natural ten-thousand to one time dilation when sealed was just flat handy, for puppies and other nuisances. He grabbed one as it floated by.
    The men did not follow him back out of the room. He nodded cheerfully to the elf, and she sent the next kid up to tell Santa all about a great new game, complete with sound effects, that he really, really wanted.

    “Northside Mall’s Santa was a bit of a surprise. Not only was the beard and hair his own, his skin tones were dark enough to be ethnic and he managed to be large without looking gross. He had that aura that draws kids, and even after a long day he was still connecting with each child as they trooped past in their hundreds. Heck, he managed to charm this reporter, and even gave me a special wine-flavored lollipop.” In the background an elf with curly red hair was beating her head on the North Pole. The cute blonde reporter held up the sucker, and gave it a good long stroke with her tongue.

    The screen flipped back to the news studio. The male anchorman snapped his mouth shut, got his finger out of his shirt collar, and flashed a smile at the camera. “And that’s our Santa report for tonight.”

    Six days later, another man in a suit. With a uniformed man at either shoulder.
    “So, Santa. I’m Detective Mark Dillinger, with the Palo Mano Police Department. I think you and I need to talk about the disappearance of a Mr. Harold Winston and a Mr. Marlin Haynes.”
    “Who?”
    The elf turned and frowned at him. “Harry’s the Mall manager. And Haynes was that lawyer. You didn’t do anything to them, did you?”
    “Got them stashed right here in my pouch.”
    “Very funny, Santa.” The detective frowned. “They were last seen with you, entering your break room.”
    “I just pointed out how bad the lawyer’s client would look, if he didn’t let Santa do his stuff. He said something about his client loved the idea of screwing Santa. Sounded kinky to me. No telling where he’s gone or what he’s doing to whom.”
    “One of the lawyer’s clients is trying to find his lawyer so he can sue a whole hospital for incorrectly diagnosing his son with a degenerative eye disease. I doubt he’ll balk at suing Santa.”
    “Well, would you like to inspect the break room?” Eldon walked around the screen and opened the door. He spotted a bubble floating past, invisible to anyone without the right genetic engineering. He caught it, and as the three men crowded through the door, dropped it over them.
    When he returned, he managed to give away two more puppies.
    By closing time, the place was crawling with police. They gave the break room a single glance, checked under the stage, and moved on, baffled and upset.

    “I want the nightmares to go away.”
    One of his first customers, today. “Sounds to me like you need a good dog, to eat those nightmares.” Eldon made sure she got a lollipop. A health boost and a dog at hand ought to do the trick. Her dad was looking a bit boggled, but was too busy trying to juggle the wiggling puppy while his daughter danced circles around them, to cause a problem.
    “He’s probably got a lawyer, too.” The elf slumped as she waved the next kid forward. “Why do you always do the easy thing? Why not try doing the right thing, for once?” She stomped off to get more lollipops.
    Eldon winced. The line was short today, and the parents looked worried, watching their children closely. There were police almost always in sight. They’d even fingerprinted the break room. . . . try doing the right thing.
    I can’t, I need more food.
    No I don’t. I’m fine, and if I run short, I’ll just stop somewhere again.
    The next kid up was scrawny and weak-looking and Eldon pulled out the wine. This part isn’t wrong. I won’t stop. It’s dealing with authority where I screw up. As usual. He hunched his shoulders and tried to pretend he didn’t sound like a whiny little kid.

    “Police widened the search for three missing policemen, last seen at Northside Mall last Wednesday. Their families made an emotional appeal . . . “

    “Ah, Crap.” Eldon scowled at the tearful wives and red-eyed children on the multiple screens at the front of the electronics outlet store. The right thing . . . “I’m just a sucker for a kid’s tears.” He looked around. Frightened people, rushing to shop. All my fault. Not very ho, ho, ho.
    He stomped off to a rarely used men’s bathroom strategically located in the housewares section of a large store. He stuck the two bubbles on the wall, stepped out and reached around the door to pop both of them.
    He ducked behind a shelf of espresso machines and strode quickly away.
    He pretended to not notice when the police trio advancing angrily on Santa’s stage were mobbed by their excited colleagues.

    “Combat Barbi?”
    The mother rolled her eyes and muttered something about they didn’t make them.
    “Hmm, those uniforms are a bit rare, aren’t they? Maybe she comes in civilian clothes, for covert ops. Don’t know where you can get the uniform though, unless someone can sew?” Eldon eyed the mother, who was suddenly looking thoughtful.
    “And the weapons.” The girl insisted. “I heard Joey say his brother had a BFG 3000. I want Barbi to have one.”
    “I’ll speak to the elves about it.” Eldon promised. He was not feeling guilty, and it was coincidental that quite a bit of his last few days’ money was going for toys for hospitalized children. All of them with nano-shedding inserts for good health added to them. He was also not noticing the plainclothes policemen that seemed to always be hanging around watching every move he made.
    He was loaded up with food and down to a single puppy. Life was good. Except for the Elf. He was worried about the Elf.
    On Christmas Eve they shut down at four in the afternoon, for the last time.
    “Thank God. I couldn’t take much more of this.” Chrissy sagged wearily. Then pulled away from his hug. Glared. “I wanted this to be the perfect Christmas. Now I don’t care anymore, I just want it over.”
    Cancer. I should have checked her weeks ago. He pulled out his wine bottle (frequently refilled, these past weeks) and poured a generous slug into the plastic glass of soda she had set down.
    “Eww! I needed that coke. The caffeine is all that’s keeping me on my feet.”
    “Humph. Isn’t it about time you checked out the biorepair nanos I was using on the kids?”
    “What did I do to deserve a Psycho Santa? I don’t like wine, and mixing it with coke is obscene.” She grabbed the glass with a tired huff. “I’m so thirsty . . . Good God, what is this stuff?”
    “It’s good for you. C’mon, I’ll walk you out to your car.”
    “Oh, no you don’t, Santa. I’m perfectly capable of finding my own car.” She sucked on the straw and marched off. The wrong direction. The healing spells, er, nanos, when they kicked in strongly, often caused something that could pass for inebriation . . . Eldon followed, steered her back the right way, and eyeing her wobble, finally drove her home.
    “Merry Christmas, Elf.” He waited until she’d fumbled the key into the hole and gotten her door open before he kissed her. Handed her the last puppy and ran.

    ***

    “Hey! You’re the elf!” The boy in the wheelchair sat up straight. “Your Santa was the best ever. He was cool! I had a great Christmas. I’m feeling really good, and they put me in physical therapy. I can almost walk.”
    Chrissy blinked. “Yeah, he was a really cool Santa.”
    “Is he going to come again next year?”
    She looked down at the boy, and back to the big medical building, where her doctor had found no trace of the cancer that had been killing her. “I . . . think a Santa like that one only comes around once.”

  3. Christmas week, 2010. Three decades of marriage had ended in 2007, and in August, I was ready to see if there was another chance for me to be happily married.
    I sought counsel, from my pastor, my doc, even my adult children.
    My pastor contacted two women in the church who were considering starting/restarting married life, but they both declined.
    Two prominent on-line dating sites didn’t work out. A third, Christian Mingle, gave me some leads, but those also vanished. I was left with suggestions to contact withered crones living in a chicken house in Waxahoxee, Georgia, and various Arkansas locations, “two miles after you turn off the paved road.”
    So, I had reconciled to being alone.
    BUT: On December 22, 2010, Christian Mingle sent me a note. Someone was interested in my profile. She was listed as Isa545, which I recognized as a Bible verse, Isaiah 54:5. I’ll leave the discovery of the meaning as an exercise for the reader.
    I looked at her picture, and those EYES! My goodness, did such eyes even EXIST in nature?
    And her description was unapologetically Christian, and she had HIGH standards for the person she would consider: he had to love her like Jesus, worship God like David; there were more.
    A flurry of texts and emails followed, and by the NEXT day, December 23, I told her that when she asked me to marry her, I would say yes.
    I met her, and some of her kids, for the first time on Christmas Day, 2010.
    And YES, I brought presents for everyone!
    We courted for a few weeks.
    She asked me to marry her, in the subject line of an otherwise blank email, and I said yes.
    We started a pre-marital counselling program, through the church. Several months worth of materials which our pastor required this of us, given our circumstances.
    Got her the ring on Valentine’s Day.
    Got the marriage license in March.
    She became my gift-from-God, happily-ever-after trophy wife Vanessa, the elegant, foxy, praying black grandmother of Woodstock, GA, on August 6, 2011.

    And TODAY is the 10th anniversary of our very first contact!

    1. Congratulations on you both making your own happily ever after – long may it continue to be so!

  4. I call this “The Year Santa Was Late”.

    Imagine four cousins roughly the same age.

    They were bedded down in their Grandmother’s living room where the Christmas tree was.

    In this family, Santa Claus was said to put the gifts under the tree the night before Christmas.

    Well, the cousins got talking instead of going to sleep and when they got up Christmas morning, Santa hadn’t left the gifts.

    Now while they were eating breakfast, the gifts somehow appeared under the Christmas Tree. 😀

  5. We love ‘A Muppet Christmas Carol’. The song ‘Bless Us All’ brings tears to my eyes every time. It’s the closest you’ll ever come to a hymn in a secular movie.
    Or, God save me, we watch Die Hard. It’s so great: our hero comes west to reconcile with his wife, reunite with his children, saves the day, and they’re all happy again (for now). It’s just like a Hallmark movie only with a high body count.

    1. When a cold wind blows it chills you-
      chills you to the bone!
      But there’s nothing in nature that freezes your heart
      like years of bein’ alone!
      It paints you with indifference,
      like a lady paints with rouge–

    2. “Muppet Christmas Carol” is classic. I have to think that wherever he is, Charlie Dickens approves. And yes to “Bless Us All,” as well as “One More Sleep til Christmas,” “It Feels Like Christmas,” and “A Thankful Heart.” When we got a Spotify account and started making a Christmas playlist, the first album I searched for was that soundtrack.

      “Die Hard” is a classic, but never, ever read the book it’s based on. I did, and I’m traumatized for life. This is one case where the book is NOT better.

  6. In the theme of PPR’s–
    I was out of the Navy, save the terminal leave and inactive reserve.

    I’d been dating my best friend. Which didn’t change a lot from before we were dating… best friend, of course it was good.

    But. We were meeting each-others families.

    Mine went well; my brother deemed us king and queen of geek. (can’t really argue, our long-distance dating plans involved meeting in MMOs)

    His mom made a point of taking me shopping and mentioning he wasn’t the marrying kind. (Nicely. It’s hard to describe, but this gal would have to work hard to be so malicious as to give two scoops of cocoa mix in your mug instead of three when she’s mad at you.)

    Christmas morning, we’re all doing gifts, his sister tries to hand me one and he says no, that’s for last.

    I don’t think much of it, I’m busy being A Good Visitor.

    Finally, last one comes around, and he’s being unusually publicly affectionate. Which is comforting, so don’t mind. (I don’t do people well.)

    Open the box– it’s a very small box.

    With a very shiny item in it.

    His dad nearly broke something laughing at the tone of my “well, of course.”

    1. Not quite a Christmas tale, but you might like this story I heard:
      One of the problems with boomer submarine patrols is getting your bills paid, especially if you’re a single young man. After all, you’re totally incommunicado for about 10 weeks.
      There was a young Lt on board, hmm, let’s pick the USS Nebraska Gold crew, who had been dating this girl for a month or two. He lived alone, and now it was time to go out on patrol, so how was he going to get all his bills paid?
      “Ah, I know,” he thought to himself. “My new girlfriend is really sweet. I’ll just sign a a bunch of blank checks and give them to her!”

      So off he goes on patrol, and comes back to find….

      All his bills paid exactly to the penny, with no extra money taken out!

      Well, he was a slow learner, so he did this another time before he realized he had found a woman worth her weight in gold, and married her 🙂

  7. Pearl Buck’s short story about the farm kid. It was the theme for the 2019 Christmas with the [Mormon] Tabernacle Choir, the one that aired this year.

    1. 1. Good story.

      2. “Kris Kringle” is the mispronounced version of “Christkindl”, the Christ Child Who brings children gifts on His Own birthday. (It’s a Hobbit thing, I guess.) So yeah, there’s some myth-problems inherent in the system.

      3. Still, a good story.

    1. I suspect I am one of very few that do not care for “A Christmas Story”… but the full (and evidently almost never seen… *grumble*), unexpurgated/unedited “Great American Fourth of July and Other Disasters”… well, now.

      1. Can’t stand it.

        It idealizes things I do not like, much less hold as ideals, and isn’t even funny doing it.

        I hold it as having less to do with Christmas than Die Hard does.

  8. I wrote a story one time ages ago, when TV was black and white, and dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Which I can’t find, so I’ll give you the condensed version.

    Imagine some alien guy sets out to measure the speed -and- the position of an electron at the same time, because he’s just that smart and ol’ Werner Heisenberg was just SO wrong about that uncertainty thing…

    So he takes centuries and sets up a perfect experiment. Perfection! And he sets it going, and it runs faster and faster. When it spools up to maximum, it really does measure the speed and the position of one solitary electron simultaneously.

    And across the universe, there was a distinctly audible “twang!” as if something important had just broken deep in the guts of the universe’s machinery. And with that, magic became possible.

    What’s this got to do with Christmas, you ask? Well, it happened at midnight on the 23rd of December. By 12:01 on the 24th, Christmas Eve, an old geezer in a fur trimmed red suit woke up in a snowbank at the north pole of Earth, far across the universe from our alien and his experiment.

    Only the first of a host of magical creatures to wake up, he gets his workshop set up, collects and trains his team of reindeer, accepts the help of the Elven King in organizing the North Pole properly, and finds the time to whittle out a toy for every child in the world by evening.

    He knows what kids want for Christmas, so he makes it for them. Just because.

    Midnight rolls around eventually, and it is time to deliver those nicknacks and doodads. He harnesses the team and sets off. Did you know that the Old Man in Red is a speed merchant? Oh yes. He loves to go fast. Those reindeer can really pick up their feet. They spent the evening drag racing anti-aircraft missiles in between delivering toys to kids and lumps of coal to any adults who deserved them.

    Next day, Special Operations soldiers are trying to sneak up on the North Pole. It’s cold, its snowing, and they don’t really want to be there, but they have orders so there they are. One by one they are confronted by reindeer the size of moose, with the most stern and disconcerting gaze. If they leave the rifles and destructive whatnot outside the fence, the reindeer let them pass. When they get to the workshop there’s mulled cider and a gift for each one, and the old man is there to hear their tales of growing up.

    And every year thereafter, much the same thing happens. The same soldiers come after deliveries are made. They sit around the stove and tell stories, and they continue the tradition until they are so old they can’t make the trip, and their sons and grandsons come instead.

  9. Just a note — Dragon NaturallySpeaking, the Windows Speech Recognition System, and even Google Docs voice typing can help reduce the keyboarding, if you want to try them…

  10. My favorite memories of Christmas are skiing with family. The two weeks around Christmas and New Year’s were the only real time off my father took (small business owner). We went up to Mammoth Mountain in California for that two weeks and skied every day. On Christmas day, we opened presents in a hurry and hit the slopes to look for Santa Claus and his elves. When you found them, they handed out candy. So much fun!

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