Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Eve trauma

"I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus"


Will Stephen

December 20th, 2012

The New Yorker

Dear Santa,

Hello. My name is Gary Wiles. I’m a forty-one-year-old I.T. director at a local news station here in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and a divorced father of three.

Don’t get excited. This is not a letter asking for presents of any sort. I do not need anyone’s help—especially yours—to bring my children joy, thank you very much.

You see, I am afraid you and I have a score to settle—one I would prefer to address in person, believe you me. But you are a very difficult man to get to, so this will have to do. For now.

I’ll cut to the chase. Thirty-six years ago, in the living room of my childhood home, you kissed my mother, Evelyn, on the mouth.

There is no use denying it. I was there. I saw the whole thing. And I need you to know what you have done to me.

At the time, I thought it was a real hoot. I had snuck downstairs on Christmas Eve—as any five-year-old would—hoping to catch a glimpse of my presents. But to my surprise, there he was, St. Nicholas himself, in my house, embracing my mother. “Silly mommy,” I thought. “What a silly mommy.”

But the kiss didn’t stop. Before too long, there were noises, romantic noises. The slurps, the giggles, the grunts. I eventually entered the living room, and sat down in the middle of the floor, mere feet away from you, and watched you kiss her. I was entranced, just staring ahead, cross-legged and doe-eyed in my Frosty the Snowman footie pajamas, as the supposed living embodiment of childhood joy enveloped my mother’s face in his thick, white beard.

I began to feel things. It was very confusing. I was clearly out my depth. I called your name—nothing. Louder—nothing. I stood up, walked over to you, and poked your leg, pulled at your jacket. No response. So I shrugged, took one of your cookies, and retreated to my room.

I didn’t sleep a wink. I was so excited to see what you had brought for me.

But lo and behold, I got nothing. Neither did my father. No packages, no stocking stuffers. No coal, even. Nothing.

My mother, on the other hand, had a shiny new Buick waiting for her in the driveway. With a bow and a small card, which my father immediately grabbed. He broke his glasses over his knee and demanded to know who “Nick” was.

Taken aback by the apparent misunderstanding, I piped up and innocently filled my father in on what had transpired.

“Wait … so you saw mommy kissing Santa Claus?”

Indeed I had. I then saw daddy down an entire bowl of eggnog, pack a suitcase, and swerve off in the Buick toward God knows where.

He’s a rabbi now.

It’s taken seventeen years of intensive therapy to convince me that none of this was my fault.

No, jolly old St. Nick, it was yours.

Thanks to you, I can’t turn on the TV or the car radio for fear of hearing your repulsive laugh. I refuse to participate in any and all office “Secret Santa” exchanges, as I find the very concept nauseating. I routinely get into fistfights with carolers. Much to the confusion of their friends, my kids had to open holiday presents under the holiday shrub. My wife finally left me because each year, like clockwork, I would be unable to perform for weeks come Black Friday.

I finally reached rock bottom a month ago and applied for a part-time job impersonating you at my local mall. I wanted to walk a mile in your shoes; to see the world from the large, tinseled throne of a lecherous fraud.

They gave me a trial shift. I hadn’t slept in four days. I put on the costume and walked onto the stage, only to see a long line of smiling children with their mothers. I immediately burst into tears. I then ripped off my beard, pushed over some pillars, punched an elf, and jumped into the mall’s fountain. I woke up in the back of a squad car, dazed and ashamed, still decked out in your disgusting red “velvet.” My co-workers had a field day.

Now, I am not asking for anything from you. I just want you to know my pain. You might be pleased to hear that my mother has a large, waving robot of you that she keeps in her living room year round. Visits are awkward.

Make sure to drop by and say hello this Christmas Eve. I’ll be the guy camped out on his roof in a deck chair with a six-pack of Modelos and a rifle, picking off each of your reindeer one by one.

I look forward to chatting then.

Happy Holidays,


I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus


Jimmy Boyd

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