Here is yet another short story about Christmas. I didn’t really know what to call this one.
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That is it.
Merry Christmas, and enjoy reading.
Toby doesn’t like Christmas. He doesn’t get all the commotion around the end of the year holiday. He never understood why Rudolph and his bright nose are so famous and holds a grudge against the reindeer’s song. The wiseass believes that Jesus wasn’t even born in December and will go out of his way to defend his atheism, thinking that that truth should be told, like how Christians believe that their truth should be told. When he is not preaching of his religious views, he complains whenever he hears a Christmas song played; Each one of them; from the classic hit by Cosby to the modern classic by Mariah; Toby despises them all. The upbeat teen hates anyone who says Merry Christmas, for he feels they are neglecting the other holidays because they do not see that Christmas is not the only holiday this time of year. The stranger isn’t trying to wish you a merry Christmas, but telling you that the other holidays this time of year don’t matter; Holidays that Toby doesn’t recognize. There isn’t much that Toby likes about Christmas. When asked what he wants for Christmas each year, he answers with the sentence. “I want Christmas to end.”
He sat at his desk on his laptop, editing a website he made for the war game that he enjoys playing with his friends. Each Tuesday, he and his buddies plan world domination and how they would use an army and navy to take over the world. They also like to play the game too. The media is full of liars. The church lies to you to control you. History is manipulated by the wealthy. Truth doesn’t exist. This get together is not about learning and playing a game with friends, but venting to each other about the wrongs they see in the world and that they, as enlightened individuals, see through it all. They cracked the code. They see the numbers in the Matrix. However, that doesn’t explain why the few of them are sitting in a basement at a small table staring at a custom map.
He got up out of his chair and went to the kitchen for some juice since he has not eaten all morning. On his way over, he disregarded the neatly designed decorations in the house that his younger sister Nicole, of only four years old, and his mother put up. The white vase with all the reindeer drawn on it. The wreath on the wall and by the front door. The stockings of every member of the house. Even the tree. He didn’t acknowledge the tree that his family put up last week. He only went to the kitchen for a drink, not to, as he would put it, be bombarded by the baseless lies that Western civilization tells itself about a fake savior that never existed.
As he opened the fridge, he saw two older people on the living couch on top of each other. “Get a room, you two.” He called out to the Santa and his mom, who were enjoying their time on the blankets a little too much.
Santa quickly got up from the couch and exited the room.
“It’s gross that, that is how I was born.” As if disappointed in the couple, the teenager walked back to his room, ignoring any confrontation with the world.
He sat back at his desk with his cup of juice.
“I am only here because my dad had sex with my mom.
He either got her drunk or paid her, or she had a momentary lapse of judgment. He got laid. I got made. Fucking hell.”
He turned his loud, obnoxious alternative music up for the rest of the house to hear, hoping to not see any of them for the rest of the day. A few moments into the first song, his dad popped into his room.
“What you done already? Is that why you left so soon?” He mentioned to the man he saw as Santa, as he made the music only slightly lower in volume.
“Yeah. It took all morning, but I got it done.”
“No wonder I was born.” He remarked.
“The ice in the driveway was frozen.”
“Ice is always frozen,” Toby said.
The dad ignored his son’s wiseass remark and continued, “I got some sandwiches for lunch. You joining us?”
“Ok. I’ll be done in a bit.” Toby didn’t want to eat with his family, but he did want to eat, so he decided against his better judgment to eat with them. The design for the new maps would have to wait.
Recently the region of the country was hit with a major snowstorm. Everyone in the town and on the block was off for the snow day, at least from their jobs. They all had to go outside and clear the foot of snow from the ground, which some could say is more difficult than their original jobs. Toby’s dad did the whole front by himself without a snowblower because the one he had last year broke, and he never replaced it. Before he went outside into the cold, he told his teenage son that if he wanted to help, he could. The father was lying, of course, and he wanted his son to lend him a hand, with all the snow. Toby took his father’s statement as an actual request to not help, so he left his father to do everything. This meant that the old man was unable to complete the sidewalk, and the driveway, as that was too much for the frail man, and it would be too much for a strong man as well. He left the snow pile by the driveway for tomorrow or another time when the sun would melt away some of it, and more importantly, he would have the energy again.
At the small table for four, the family sat each with a sandwich on their plate.
His mother spoke up, “So how was your morning?”
“Good.” Toby didn’t elaborate.
“Me and Nicole worked on some of her schoolwork.”
“Right,” Toby said, recalling his juice trip.
“I can’t wait for Santa to show up this year,” Nicole muttered as she took a bit out of her tomato sandwich.
“You know Nicole, did you ever notice what Santa looked like?” Her brother said.
“Yup, like a big fat guy.”
“That’s right.” Her mother confirmed the young girl’s take.
“Santa looks so much like Daddy, it’s uncanny,” Toby said.
“Shut up you.” The dad said to his son as he took a bit out of his prime rib sandwich.
“Yeah. Shut up.” His mom repeated.
“What? I am only saying that…”
His mom cut him off. “That Santa looks like a big fat guy. Right, Nicole?”
“He has a big belly.” The youngest at the table commented.
“Honey, I need you to get some salt from out of the garage.” The wife told her husband, knowing that he got the hint to straighten their son out.
“Oh, right. Toby, come help me get some stuff out of the garage for the ground.”
“Now.” His dad said firmly.
The man and boy went into the garage. The father allowed his son to take a few steps in before he shut the door behind him.
“Why are we doing this now?” Toby asked.
“What is your deal? Hmmm? What is this some phase you are going through? You acting all smart and clever. You think this is cool, is that it?”
“No.” The son answered.
“Then what is it? You don’t have anything nice to say around Christmas time. You complain about the holiday all month long, as if that makes any of us feel beer. Look, if you want to have an awful Christmas, and enjoy being the Grinch around here, then that is on you, but don’t go ruining the time for your sister. She is happy this time of year, and she still believes in Santa, and she doesn’t need you doing that to her.”
“Are you going to tell her that the holiday is a Roman festival and that Jesus wasn’t even born in December?”
“Give it a rest, will ya. You act like saying that makes you smart or clever, but it doesn’t. It only makes you think that your asshole behavior is acceptable.”
“Don’t get mad at me because I’m an atheist.”
“You’re not an atheist, you’re an asshole, and I don’t want you to say things like that to your sister. Don’t ruin her Christmas, like you are mine.”
“What? Because I caught you and mom making out earlier? Is that what this is about?”
“What the hell are you talking about? I was helping the neighbors down the block all morning dig out the ice in their driveway. I did that after I saw that they needed some help there.” He paused. “Just cut the attitude when you get back to the table.”
The father left the room and remarked aloud as he walked back to the table, “Yeah. He is such an atheist that he will accept all the presents I get him and never go into a bunker. Unbelievable.” He went back into the kitchen, where his wife and daughter were rearranging the sheets on the couch.
“Me and mommy are fixing the blankets.”
“Everything alright?” The wife asked her husband.
“We’ll see when he gets back in.”
Toby stood there alone in the garage by the cluttered desk of workbench tools and kits. He searched for the salt and brought the bag to the front door.
“What are you doing?” The dad asked the son.
“Putting the salt down.” He opened the front door and placed the salt by the steps of the door. As he put down the last of them, a thought popped into his head, “Wait, if Dad was down the block all morning, then who was Mom kissing?”
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