Maybe it’s the economy, the trouble overseas, the election, or what happened to Heroes but for whatever reason, Christmas spirit had eluded me this year. No matter how many tall Starbucks Peppermint Mocha’s I ordered, I simply could not seem to get into the mood of the season. Though wreaths, lights, snowflakes, and mistletoe adorned nearly every non-Temple location I frequented, my soul seemed to simply reject Christmas as a concept. And I for one am a person who always looks forward to the Christmas season. Once August hits, I start sort-of mentally counting down if not the days, definitely the months. So now, it had arrived, and I was about to let another Christmas season pass, only to get excited about it next August. Something had to change. Now.
Fortunately, my search for a next plan of action coincided with basic cable’s scheduling of the classic Christmas specials – Rudolph, Frosty, and the like. Finally, I was stricken with a flash of brilliance while watching The (non-Jim Carry) Grinch. How does the title character in that one achieve his arch from surly old humbug to joyful Christmas junkie? The answer is in the damn title – he steals Christmas! Surely this was the answer I was looking for! All I’d have to do was steal a town’s presents, decorations, and food on Christmas Eve, and wait for the next morning, when I’d see them holding hands and singing, despite their material losses. Only then would I realize that the true spirit of Christmas is not in the presents at all, my heart would grow three sizes, I’d return the presents and thus be heralded as a hero, cut the roast beast and boom – Christmas spirit. The plan seemed so simple, so devious, so perfect.
I started quickly making arrangements. First, I needed a Santa suit. Up until that point in my life, I had not been much of a sewer, so I thought a red t-shirt, some black jeans, and a construction-paper beard would do the trick. It would be dark anyway. Second, the prospect of stealing Christmas from an entire town seemed a tad ambitious, so with the lack of a Who-ville to rob, I figured the St. Peter’s Foster Orphanage For the Near-Retarded would be just as good. I Mapquested the place as soon as I could and planned to creep out that Christmas Eve night around 10 PM. I obviously had no sled, so my 1993 Eagle Vision would have to suffice. I grabbed a couple Hefty bags (“Christmas Sacks”) from my garage to package the loot and drove off in search of Christmas spirit.
I parked down the road from St. Peter’s Foster Orphanage For the Near-Retarded, and walked to the old-timey building, dressed head-to-toe in my makeshift Chris Cringle outfit of course. Now, how to get in? Obviously I was not going down the chimney, that much I knew. It was on to plan A – the front door. I sauntered up, with my giant Christmas Sack in tow, but alas the door was locked. Fortunately, I had an ace up my sleeve, and smashed the adjacent window with a nearby rock. Boom – I was in. Luckily, everyone seemed to be asleep upstairs, and the lights were all off. I passed through the foyer and dining room before finally entering the living room where the tree and presents were displayed.
The presents were few, as the foster home was obviously not the wealthiest, but that was alright as it would save some stealing time. I could definitely spot something shaped like a toy train, which I tossed into my Christmas Sack, followed by what felt like a new Barbie, a board game, and an iTouch. Suddenly, one of the boxes moved. I looked towards the one at my feet and sure enough, it had holes poked into it. I peered inside and there staring back at me was an adorable lab puppy, intended for (according to the tag) “The Entire Foster Family”. I threw it into the Christmas Sack with all the others. Having packed up all the presents, I started on the decorations, tearing down every inch of garland, every strand of lights, and every last homemade popsicle stick ornament. As I pillaged, my head filled with visions of growing hearts, roast beast, and the joy that only comes with being touched on Christmas morning when you realize it’s not about the presents. With some extra room in The Sack, I headed upstairs and raided the children’s prescription medicine cabinet. If missing his diabetes medicine didn’t show little Peter the true meaning of Christmas, surely nothing will.
As I packed up the final trimmings in the living room, I heard the pitter-patter of a child’s footsteps. I turned and there stood a little girl who could not have been more than four, staring up at me with an innocent wonderment. “Why Santa? Why are you taking our tree?” she asked with an adorable squeak. At first, I was amazed that anyone would find this to be a convincing Santa suit, but then I remembered that she was near-retarded. “And why did you take all our presents?” she continued. I frantically started reaching, thinking of a believable story. Sadly, I could come up with nothing, but I came prepared. She was nothing a little chloroform-soaked handkerchief couldn’t handle.
As I looked around, satisfied with the thievery of Christmas I had just performed, I stashed the loot in the canned-goods pantry. This would allow easy access when I heroically come out after being emotionally touched by their respective Christmas spirit, and distribute the heretofore stolen gifts. I then staked a position in the nearest bathroom, which connected into the living room. It would only be a few hours before these children would wake up and experience the joy of Christmas. I could hardly wait – finally I would feel some damn Christmas spirit. It was about time.
A few hours later, I awoke from an excited doze to the sound of children rummaging upstairs. Surely they were waking their foster mother so they could all go downstairs and bask in Christmas spirit! I anxiously awaited as the first child came downstairs. He was so full of innocent wonder and joy, as though he had been looking forward to this morning for months. As though this was the only thing he had to look forward to in his life. It was precious. His broad, baby-toothed smile shone brightly, and I felt a glimmer of Christmas spirit. It was coming now!
However, after examining the empty room, the small boy, followed by at least a dozen other near-retarded orphans, changed his tune completely. Instead of initiating the circle of presentless-Christmas-joy, he let out a wail so piercing it’s a miracle the non-stolen glass objects didn’t shatter. One-by-one, the other children followed suit, screaming at the mysterious lack of a Christmas anything. This was wrong! As more children started crying, the other more near-retarded ones who didn’t quite understand the situation started crying because the first kids were crying. The foster mother quickly ran down the stairs and surveyed the room. Surely she would rally them into a hand-holding-Christmas-spirit-material-things-do-not-matter circle. “Wha- those were donated by the church!” was all she managed. This seemed to make the orphans more upset, and the wailing intensified.
What did they think they were doing? They were ruining my Christmas! I immediately jumped out from behind the bathroom door. “No! No! NOOO! You guys don’t get it at all!”I screamed. “Christmas isn’t about the presents! Come on!”
“You’re not Santa!” screamed a child.
“Oh there is no Santa!” I retorted back, clearly winning that argument. Wailing intensified further.
“Ahhh kidnapper!” the foster mother wailed as the children for some reason cried out bloody murder. It was all so blown out of proportion. Either way, I realized I should probably get out of there. I ran for the door, but just then the foster mother sprayed me with what must have been the most powerful mace on the market. My eyes burning and my vision impaired, I just followed my body’s natural reaction and blindly punched the foster mother square in the face. As far as I could hear, she went down pretty quick, and I continued to run, feeling my way to the door. All the chaos from this distracted from the new foster home puppy I had just stepped on and crushed. More wailing. I managed to hide in some bushes down the road by the time the cops arrived.
All in all, I would say that yes, my Christmas spirit was properly restored. Watching those crying orphans complain about their lack of toys, food and ear medicine made me realize that these kids are completely oblivious to the true meaning of Christmas. I was the sole being in that orphanage on Christmas morning fully aware that Christmas isn’t about those material things; it’s about so much more than that. Therefore, I have the children of St. Peter’s Foster Orphanage For the Near-Retarded to thank for my cheer this holiday season after all, if not quite for the reasons I had intended.