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[P]
Miller Time 12/25

By jolly st nick in Fiction
Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 12:00:00 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

Now for my favorite part of the whole annual affair. I go into the house, stamp the snow off my boots; rip the 24 page off the calendar and settle in in front of the fire, warming my stockinged feet and nursing a mug of ginger tea to settle my stomach. I ask you: what kind of mad barbarian would think of putting raw eggs in milk and drinking the mess? Disgusting. That may be fine for a that Scandinavian fellow they use in all the pictures, but I'm Greek and of course I'm lactose intolerant. Just once I wish someone would leave out a nice plate of olives or some flat bread with coarse sea salt and bit of extra virgin oil.


I'm dog tired and still too hyped up to go to bed. The caffeine levels in my blood would probably give a lesser man a stroke. I may as well stay up and turn in early tomorrow night. As usual there's nothing on the tube worth watching. We only get one network up here: the Surveillance Network. I thought we might be able to get a dish, but when we told the person on the phone our latitude he just laughed and hung up.

Well, I could get a start on next year's list I guess; it beats talking to myself.

Let's get the worst over first. Let's see... OK, here's little Tommy. He got a game console, but not the one he wanted. He's screaming bloody murder. Mom is going to make it right though as soon as the stores open tomorrow. Unspeakable little blackmailer. Runs in the family though. She threatened him with no presents, and of course now she doesn't have a leg to stand on. The difference between them is that there is no one more ruthless than a child, who doesn't grasp the concept of permanent consequences. Change the channel.

OK, the Smiths. Two kids left, they lost the youngest in November. Accident, completely unexpected. His presents are still wrapped in the attic. First time the kids have almost had fun since it happened, and they feel strange about it. They don't know it, but most of the reason they feel odd is because Joe's ghost is standing right there next to them; he's plain as day on the video. I am telepathically willing his parents, go upstairs and bring little Joe's presents down - he wants to see what he got. Oh, well. It was worth a try.

I really wish they'd never mixed me up in this business about rewarding good kids and punishing bad kids. Parents desperately want their kids to believe that people get what they deserve. Well, the cruel truth is that practically nobody gets what the deserve. Not Terrible Tommy and certainly not Little Joe. I'm not saying grab some two year old and tell them that horrible things happen to good little children for no particular reason. The youngest kids certainly aren't ready for the truth yet. But that's no reason to indoctrinate them into a wicked, vicious lie that if unchecked by adolescent cynicism will produce wicked, vicious adults. There's a terrible cosmic irony in my being mixed up in this whole corrupt business. Back when I was bishop in Myra, there was a poor family that had the bad luck of having produced three daughters and no sons. Three dowries they couldn't pay, no sons to support them in their old age. This was back when being an unmarried woman of a certain age was as good as being an outcast. Now one thing you need to understand about Christian communities is that they have two pillars, women and the poor. Once Diocletian was out of the picture, we had everything: the finest icons, the richest vestments, vessels of gold, rare incense, all paid for by the generosity of the poor. So, I put these two things together - rich church, poor family with three girls, and I decided to, well, redistribute things a bit. People later made a big fuss about it later, and I got the big "C" next to my name on the record books, but to tell the truth, it should only have been seen as sound management. Investing in our best customers, you might say.

I will freely confess I'm not the most modest of men, far from it. But I wouldn't be bringing up this bit of ancient history except to point out that while there are many lessons we could draw from it, "life is fair" is not one of them. "It doesn't take much to make a hero" would be better. What I would like people to take away from this story is the idea that life is not fair, and if you want justice you have go out and make some yourself. Truth be told, they could have got Robin Hood for this job and have turned him into a jolly, toothless fat man. They've half done it to him anyway. Between you and me the real Robin would have slit Richard's throat and taken his purse, all for the best possible reasons of course.

I don't want to be totally negative here. There are bright spots. Take the Mooneys, Jasper and Ted. Adult brothers. Both were definitely naughty as kids, but with their nasty parents playing them off against each other you couldn't blame them. As soon as they could they got out of the house and never looked back. They lost touch until this year when both parents, who were divorced twenty years ago, happened to die within a few weeks of each other. Lots of death this year,same as every year. In any case they renewed their acquaintance during two successive and grueling death vigils. Jasper's family is spending the holiday with Ted. Fears of an uncomfortable situation were greatly exaggerated. Their wives like each other, and their children, who are blessedly normal and reasonably good, are playing happily together. They're discovering that a lot of their childhood memories really aren't that bad...

Doesn't that warm your heart?

Of course not, because you're a cynical bastard. There isn't a torch in the Home Depot catalog that burns hot enough to raise the temperature of your heart by a single degree. You never waste an opportunity to prove to the world how cynical you are, but you don't have to prove anything to me. You forget that I see into your heart and I can measure to the last atom the cynical part you give to the world against what's left of the tender part you reserve for own private use. I know exactly how cynical you are. Because I made you that way.

For that I'm truly sorry, I really am. I'd take it all back if I could.

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Display: Sort:
Miller Time 12/25 | 43 comments (23 topical, 20 editorial, 0 hidden)
Can I get some Christmas crack? (none / 0) (#3)
by trane on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 03:41:44 PM EST

please?!??

Have you been good? (none / 0) (#4)
by jolly st nick on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 03:42:34 PM EST

Have you been moderating on slashdot?

[ Parent ]
i was banned for life from /. moderating (none / 0) (#5)
by trane on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 03:57:24 PM EST

because i modded up the famous "First Slashdot Troll Post Investigation" comment.

But I've been good: I haven't become one of those lying, thieving, hustling crackheads, i'm an honest one.

[ Parent ]

Ah, Miltion said it best (none / 1) (#11)
by jolly st nick on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 06:28:17 PM EST

Farewell happy Fields
Where Joy for ever dwells: Hail horrors, hail
Infernal world, and thou profoundest Hell
Receive thy new Possessor: One who brings
A mind not to be chang'd by Place or Time.
The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a Heav'n of Hell, a Hell of Heav'n.
What matter where, if I be still the same,
And what I should be, all but less than hee
Whom Thunder hath made greater? Here at least
We shall be free; th' Almighty hath not built
Here for his envy, will not drive us hence:
Here we may reign secure, and in my choice
To reign is worth ambition though in Hell:
Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heav'n.


[ Parent ]
nice (none / 0) (#12)
by trane on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 07:41:38 PM EST

if you defy the crackheads and choose not to become a lying, thieving, hustling one like them, truly you will be in crack hell. but, free...

[ Parent ]
modern americal l-1t (1.50 / 6) (#14)
by tkatchevzombie on Fri Dec 16, 2005 at 02:40:14 AM EST



F-1ction $ (1.16 / 6) (#15)
by alevin on Fri Dec 16, 2005 at 07:21:39 AM EST


--
alevin
I give this troll an 8/10 (none / 0) (#16)
by Enlarged to Show Texture on Fri Dec 16, 2005 at 09:26:48 AM EST

This stunningly subtle troll (equating Christ with Santa Claus) has to be worth something. However, the typo does not bode well for you in a work of fiction, since the readers here are notoriously hard on that particular section. I'll abstain, although on some mornings you would have received the -1 on the typo alone...


"Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do." -- Isaac Asimov
You thought it was subtle? (none / 0) (#17)
by mfeltman on Fri Dec 16, 2005 at 10:40:51 AM EST

I felt like he was beating me over the head with it.  I guess reading comprehension has never been a strength, collectively speaking, on k5.  :-)

It's clever, but not THAT clever.  I voted it up.


whisper.


[ Parent ]

Just to clarify (none / 0) (#19)
by jolly st nick on Fri Dec 16, 2005 at 11:19:39 AM EST

The Nick of the story is not Jesus. He is Nicholas, a fourth century Bishop of Myra in what is now modern Turkey. I tried to make his point of view as consistent as possible with the saint of first millenium legend, while making him play the role of Santa Claus.

As you say, the basic conceit of the story is not subtle in the least. Now I had a choice whether to make him happy or unhappy with his Santa Claus role. If the conceit was the point of the story, I'd make him happy with the role, simply because it's harder to do this. However, instead I tried to give him a resigned and somewhat nuanced view of the holiday, because it suits my purpose better.

[ Parent ]

I think the last paragraph... (none / 0) (#23)
by gzt on Fri Dec 16, 2005 at 12:44:31 PM EST

...is what's confusing them, particularly, the, "Because I made you that way."

[ Parent ]
Oh. (none / 1) (#25)
by jolly st nick on Fri Dec 16, 2005 at 02:03:34 PM EST

Clever aren't they?  But with that reading the final line "I'd take it all back if I could" doesn't make any sense at all.  Take what?

I guess I can see some sources of confusion.  Nick would in any non-Christian society be considered at least a minor god; he certainly has god-like powers, which I play off here.  The ability to read minds is only a logical prerequisite of being able to know who's naughty or nice.  The reason Nick  an turn to the reader and address him is a more of a logical stretch, but in line with his magical capabilities.

[ Parent ]

Take what? (none / 0) (#26)
by gzt on Fri Dec 16, 2005 at 02:27:31 PM EST

Letting men choose evil over good, perhaps, I don't know. Your readers aren't obliged to assume you had a consistent reading in mind when you wrote this. It is, after all, fiction on K5.

[ Parent ]
I think... (none / 1) (#43)
by Fon2d2 on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 11:42:52 AM EST

he's saying that not because he's some manifestation of God or Jesus, but because he helped play such an integral role in the vicious lies of your childhood that've helped to mold you into the cynical bastard you are today.

Santa entirely reinforces the idea of getting, and not giving. Nobody gives to Santa Claus, which totally reinforces the ego. Giving reduces the ego and happiness comes from having less ego, not more. Santa is supposed to be some great equalizer but the fact that the whole concept of Santa is about getting and not about giving should say a lot. A real live Santa should be cynical based on that fact alone.

Santa, in this story, is making the comment at the end partly because of the integral role he's played in everyones' lives and partly because of the shame he feels in it.

[ Parent ]

fwiw it never occurred to me (none / 0) (#29)
by livus on Fri Dec 16, 2005 at 05:38:48 PM EST

and I still can't see why they think that.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]
Subtle? (none / 0) (#18)
by jolly st nick on Fri Dec 16, 2005 at 11:04:14 AM EST

This stunningly subtle troll (equating Christ with Santa Claus)

Well, that's news to me.

The basic conceit I think is not subtle at all. What would St. Nicholas think about his roles as "Santa Claus"? If you equate the Nick of the story with Jesus, it's because of course a Christian saint natural emulates Jesus.

There is some subtlety however that you might have missed. (1) you should not take what a character in a story says at face value. Characters sometimes deceive others and sometimes deceive themselves. (2) The opinions of the characters do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the author. In this case, I will tell you that my point of view is different than the Nick of the story, although we agree on some points.

This is not a how they've ruined Christmas rant story, alhtough it make look like it. If it came off that way, then you've missed the point. The story does not really have a pro-Christmas stance. Nor does it have an anti Christmas stance. I'd be interested if you could tease out why I wrote this story.

[ Parent ]

I thought it was rather clear (none / 0) (#20)
by Enlarged to Show Texture on Fri Dec 16, 2005 at 11:28:29 AM EST

that the writer does not have a pro-Christmas stance. That did make itself clear...


"Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do." -- Isaac Asimov
[ Parent ]
There is almost nothing of MY stance (none / 0) (#21)
by jolly st nick on Fri Dec 16, 2005 at 11:43:51 AM EST

towards Christmas in the Nick's opinions, although his view of the unjustness of the world is one I do share. Nick has a somewhat negative outlook on his role Christmas mainly because it's logical for him to do so. I am not nearly as convinced as he is that his influence is so evil.

In any case, Nick's opinions on the topic of Christmas don't interest me. It's how he experiences Christmas, and what makes it necessary for him, and the reader, to have an opinion that matters to me.

[ Parent ]

the playing field is never even - (none / 0) (#22)
by lukme on Fri Dec 16, 2005 at 12:06:07 PM EST

that said, what comes around goes around. I've seen it happen too often.




-----------------------------------
It's awfully hard to fly with eagles when you're a turkey.
Ti Kaneis? (1.80 / 5) (#24)
by Egil Skallagrimson on Fri Dec 16, 2005 at 12:50:29 PM EST

Ne? Kata leveneis?

----------------

Enterobacteria phage T2 is a virulent bacteriophage of the T4-like viruses genus, in the family Myoviridae. It infects E. coli and is the best known of the T-even phages. Its virion contains linear double-stranded DNA, terminally redundant and circularly permuted.

kitten, how do you know (none / 1) (#39)
by Egil Skallagrimson on Sun Dec 18, 2005 at 12:17:49 AM EST

I'm not adding content to the site that should be seen by others?

Do you speak Greek?

----------------

Enterobacteria phage T2 is a virulent bacteriophage of the T4-like viruses genus, in the family Myoviridae. It infects E. coli and is the best known of the T-even phages. Its virion contains linear double-stranded DNA, terminally redundant and circularly permuted.
[ Parent ]

Greek? (none / 0) (#40)
by jolly st nick on Sun Dec 18, 2005 at 08:53:18 AM EST

Looked Finnish to me. Something about cinnamon and juniper.

[ Parent ]
Oixh (none / 0) (#42)
by Egil Skallagrimson on Sun Dec 18, 2005 at 11:07:56 AM EST

Ellennhika

----------------

Enterobacteria phage T2 is a virulent bacteriophage of the T4-like viruses genus, in the family Myoviridae. It infects E. coli and is the best known of the T-even phages. Its virion contains linear double-stranded DNA, terminally redundant and circularly permuted.
[ Parent ]

Miller Time 12/25 | 43 comments (23 topical, 20 editorial, 0 hidden)
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