Burn Christmas Burn

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Dear Editor,

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, 'If you see it in the Sun, it's so.' Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia O'Hanlon, 115 West 95th Street

NO ONE NOTICED, of course, but last year, I did not file a column on Christmas week. This was not because I was too busy with a long schedule of holiday merry-making.

On the contrary: As editor Jeff Koyen can attest, I actually tried to write a column on Christmas last year. I spent three long days reading and rereading the old New York Sun's hideous "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" column, and tried to come up with a satisfying counter-argument. The opening was easy enough:

Dear Virginia,

Your little friends are right. There is no Santa Claus. And not only that, but within about five years, you'll be on your knees in a Port Authority rest room, sucking a stranger's cock for a dollar...

The column degenerated into a string of obscenities. If I remember correctly, the ending was something like, "Oh, and incidentally, Francis P. Church died in the arms of another man, broke and scorned by his family." It was a really angry piece of writing. Too angry to be coherent. At the end of the three days, I gave up and asked Koyen for a mulligan. A week later my fangs had retracted, and I was back cheerfully offering my worthless opinions on the political issues of the day.

I hate Christmas. I hate it more than anyone in the world. Put me in a room with the man you think is the world's biggest Christmas-hater, and within 10 minutes he'll be shining my shoes. Christmas is the world's most compelling argument for immediate nuclear attack against the territory of the United States. American Christmas makes heroes of Osama bin Laden, Jim Jones, the Shining Path, the Baader-Meinhofs, Jack the Ripper and the virus that causes AIDS.

It is true that American Christmas has not yet reached the point where it excuses the crimes of the Nazi Party. Still, even the regime of Adolf Hitler was probably too burdened by humanity to dream up an endless loop of I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, blared over the speakers in the escalator entrance to Bed Bath and Beyond. We are the first explorers to set foot on this region of hell.

Commercialism is one thing, but it isn't the commercialism that really defines Christmas in this country. After all, we expect businesses to feverishly hump the leg of every available sentiment in an attempt to sell us their products. That's their job.

Warner Bros. and Houghton-Mifflin would really be remiss in their responsibilities to their shareholders if, in making their vile, saccharine Tom Hanks adaptation of the totalitarian Christmas tale The Polar Express, they did not invite every marketing rapist on both coasts to take their turn at the body politic. It would be morally wrong for these companies to pass up the chance to give humanity special Polar Express Brio train sets and figurines, or Polar tees by Evy and Thunder Creek, or special sleepwear by Wormser (Polar PJs for Polar toddlers!), or an exciting array of Polar Hallmark products (stationery, plush giftware, albums, gift wrap, paper party goods!), or die-cut Polar book sets, or THQ Polar interactive games, or Hasbro Polar puzzles, or special Kraft and Pepsi Polar tie-ins and Polar Fritos and train-shaped cardboard Polar books (suggested age range for the All Aboard the Polar Express board book: "Birth to three years") for kids too young to move or speak or do anything but recognize primitive shapes.

Yes, shove these and more, along with a special Polar Express train set by Lionel, into every orifice of every child customer. Then, so that he can spend the holiday season enjoying the wonders of unspoiled wilderness, give him and his family a batch of tickets to a special Polar Express promotion on the Grand Canyon railroad, so that everyone can experience the Christmas magic while they stare at the rocks and the river and the sand and whatever the fuck else is out there, in the wilds of Idaho or New Jersey or whatever goddamn state the Grand Canyon is in. Is it too late to bring in a snow machine and a bunch of billboard towers? Who owns the rights to these cliffs?

I have no problem with this kind of thinking, none at all. Believe me, if I worked for Warner Bros., I'd be spinning off a Polar Confessions tv show about arctic wife-swapping and a Polar porn mag called Polar Inches for the yuletide homosexual. No stone would be left unturned.

It would be madness to get upset. Only a lunatic hates a company for selling things. Hate is an emotion that should be reserved for purely emotional transgressionstraitorous passivity, for instance. What I don't get is why there's no backlash from the population. Why aren't more mall Santas beaten to death? Why weren't there theater shootings when Jim Carrey's Lemony Snicket movie opened? How is it that year after year passes without a single Abercrombie & Fitch set on fire?

Every year, like clockwork, nativity scenes in dozens of ass-end small American towns are vandalized. I search for these stories every year, because they are the only things that cheer me up in the last week leading up to Christmas. To date, this year's best came last Monday, at a Catholic church in Knoxville, TN. According to a wire news service:

"Someone cut off the baby's head and arms and doused the stumps in red paint. The vandal or vandals also threw the baby's head through a glass door, scrawled an upside-down cross on Mary's robe and covered her face with paint."

Reading this, it was hard for me not to feel a tremendous kinship with the culprit, and even a hint of professional envy. I'm pretty sure I could have thought up most of those moves, including the upside-down cross, but why cover Mary's face with paint? Why her face? I have no idea what that means, but I love it.

Most of these nativity desecrations are directed not specifically at Christmas, but at God and religion in general. While this is a noble urge in itself, it really has nothing to do with hating Christmas, an utterly irreligious phenomenon. Jesus has been dead for almost 2000 yearswhy not throw Kathie Lee Gifford's head through a glass door?

Besides, the mere fact that we leave the only significant acts of anti-Christmas violence in this country in the hands of a few scattered bands of spiritually confused drunken teenagers says everything you need to know about the adult population in this country. America produces hundreds of thousands of college graduates every year, and not one of them ever does anything to stop Christmas. They just keep entering the workforce, keep dumping giant steel canisters of Holiday Spirit into our reservoirs in the middle of the night on the orders of their bosses, keeping the secret to themselves, never telling their spouses or their children the awful truth about What They Have Done.

So die, Virginia, you little bitch. Die a painful death this Christmas. Die waiting for Santa Claus to come down that chimney. He is not coming. But I amto eat your corpse.

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