It was another beautiful Christmas morning. There were presents under the tree, stockings hung on the chimney filled with beautiful toys and treats, and fresh snow on the ground. My sister Rebecca and I were already going through our stockings and eating whatever candy was inside. We were lucky enough to have the rest of the family come to us every year. It was a tradition. They wouldn't be arriving until noon, but we were up at six o'clock digging through our stockings and shaking the presents that Santa had left us. We looked forward to hours of Christmas fun.
We sat around the living room with our gifts watching television until ten. Neither of our parents had come downstairs yet. Usually on this festive morning they would be up early and in the kitchen making eggs or pancakes, then dinner and desserts for later. But instead they had been upstairs yelling at each other for three hours.
It was a little after ten when our mother stormed down the stairs. She was clearly not in the holiday spirit. "You kids eat breakfast?" she shouted at us as she entered the kitchen. We didn't answer. We thought maybe she was mad at us. She poured us some cereal and went back upstairs, whereupon the yelling continued.
The weeks leading to Christmas were always hectic, and dad never helped matters by "pulling a stunt," as mom says, every year. For example, the year before he nearly killed my mother while we were tree shopping. Dad claimed it wasn't his fault, but that the backward hillbillies running the place handed him a hacksaw and said, "Go to work." So Dad, gripping the hacksaw firmly, shouted, "Kids! Wanna see a magic trick?" and grabbed Mom, placing the weapon blade first against her throat. Rebecca and I screamed and Dad let go, but Mom got nicked and she made my dad sleep on the couch until Easter.
So far this year Dad had belched the lyrics to "Silent Night" at Christmas Eve Mass; handed Mom a dead pigeon, gift wrapped, and promised there would be more in the next 12 days; and used a Sharpie to draw penises on all the Christmas cookies she had baked.
Considering all of this, our mother's demeanor should not have surprised us. What did surprise us was her coming down the stairs struggling with a laundry bag, opening the front door, and dumping three elves out onto the front porch.
Rebecca and I could only watch in bewildered amazement as our mother went back upstairs to yell some more. They were still fighting when family members started arriving. They were all here - our aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents - to hear the battle. Finally, Mom came back down brandishing her elephant gun. She went out the front door, and we soon heard gunfire. As some of the family ran outside to stop her, animal carcasses fell from the sky.
It turns out that Mom had walked in on Dad and Santa Claus himself in a position that would ruin Christmas for the rest of her life. After all the fighting, she decided to let them fornicate while she stood on the front lawn shooting at Santa's reindeer, who had been on the roof all night, with an elephant gun, the same elephant gun she used to kill the woolly mammoth we had for Thanksgiving dinner. After that valiant kill she forever had the admiration of the psychotic men in the family, as well as the ire of many children, who have since referred to her as "The auntie who killed Snuffleupagus."
When we got Mom back in the house she broke down. Rebecca and I started crying too. She told everyone her marriage was over and that they should all just leave. No one wanted to go; they wanted to help her. But Mom was adamant and the family soon started exiting until a familiar face entered the house.
It was my grandfather, who looked quite well, despite being dead for twelve years. Everyone was delighted especially to see that he had brought a date, as he simply glowed walking in arm-in-arm with Audrey Hepburn, and not the elderly, charitable Ms. Hepburn, but the elegant, early fifties Audrey. Grandpa always did like them young, from his parties with Roman Polanski to his kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby. This was his first date since Grandma Sylvia Plathed herself Easter Sunday twenty years before.
Mom used this moment to honor the memory of my beloved grandparents by taking the ham out of the oven and getting inside. She didn't like being upstaged. Two of my uncles each donned oven mitts and rescued my mother from her Yuletide suicide attempt.
If all of this were not enough, Dad and Santa Claus had finally come downstairs declaring their love for each other to all of the family. Not only that, but Santa had called the police after finding six of his reindeer dead on the front lawn. Dad started screaming at Mom about the scene she was causing. Mom only stood still, pointing her firearm at Father Christmas and my own father. Grandpa, Ms. Hepburn, and a few others, tried to talk some sense into her. Rebecca and I, still in tears, shouted at both our parents to stop.
The tension was soon broken by an explosion from the other side of the house. We all ran to see what it was and saw that the entire back side of our home had been blown off, and dozens of men and women - some wearing yarmulkes and carrying Menorahs, others yielding lattes and copies of that day's New York Times - stormed into our house, destroying gifts, tearing down decorations, and ripping our tree to shreds. These heartless, godless guerillas went through everything, knocking over men, women and children alike.
They threw food and cups of eggnog at Santa, calling him a phony, and even declared that the Baby Jesus was a fraud. A man grabbed the gun from my mother and butted her on the head with it, shouting, "That's for 'Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer'!"
My father, seeing my mother being manhandled in this way, leaped up and grabbed the gun from the heathen and began firing at the intruders, while still getting good punches in on others. It was amazing. He was like Popeye meets the Terminator. Santa soon joined in and used his magic Christmas powers to drive all of the intruders out of our home.
Dad then tended to my mom, embracing her and telling her how sorry he was for everything. Rebecca and I ran over and hugged them both. Santa, seeing this display, magically brought his reindeer back to life, instantly repaired the back of our house, and flew on his merry way.
From that moment on, Christmas was the most wonderful and cherished holiday for our family. Never again did my father "pull a stunt." You might say we lived happily ever after. At least on Christmas.
Michael Frissore’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Monkeybicycle, Gold Dust‘s Solid Gold Anthology, Is This Reality?, Sein Und Werden, The Oddville Press, The Externalist, Literary Chaos, decomP and elsewhere. He has also written for The Tucson Citizen, Flak, Slurve, and other publications. His first book, Poetry is Dead, is being published by Coatlism Press. Mike grew up in Massachusetts and now lives in Oro Valley, Arizona with his wife and son.