Over here at Headshots,we have wonderful childhood memories of Christmas Eve. Fireside readings Clement Clarke Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas“, better known to most of us as “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas“, often filled our home and put us to sleep in hopes that St. Nicholas soon fill our stockings. But those days have passed, and as we were drinking whiskeynog in preparation for our special Christmas Eve edition of the column, dreading our 2012 Christmas Eve, complete with giant Toblerone of sadness, and a large bottle of Jack, it occurred to us that wallowing in self pity is unbecoming.
There are some harrowing Christmas Eve tales of woe. I’m not talking about those who spend Christmas Eve with a bottle of discount gin, crying in the bathtub, wondering where it all went wrong. Nor am I referring to the old “dead kitten wrapped in a box without air holes” mistake or Daddy Claus was so drunk he mixed up the gifts and vomited in the stockings.
I’m talking about real tales of Christmas Eves gone wrong. So, pour yourself a warm glass of candy cane flavored vodka, throw on your Christmas slippers, and get ready for some yuletide humility. Now if we can just make it to New Years with no crying…
1. London, 1843
In mid-nineteenth-century London, a small business owner was visited by the ghost of his deceased business partner. You think that doesn’t make a mess of your Christmas? To make matters worse, the poor schmuck was visited by three more ghosts that night, all of whom had horrible stories to tell him, and pretty much blamed him for the downfall of Victorian London, the plight of the poor, disabled children, and winter itself. Later, he turns into a duck, and then is transported to mid ’80s Chicago where he marries Indiana Jones’ girlfriend. That’s a messed up Christmas Eve.
2. Junctionville, NY
In the sleepy bedroom community of Junctionville, New York around the turn of the nineteenth to twentieth century, an anonymous letter printed in the town’s newspaper offends Santa Claus. Turns out some Dungeons & Dragons nerd named Albert wrote the letter, and signed it from the whole town. Santa was all, “I’m skipping this burgh,” and refilled his flight plan with the FCC. So this kid’s dad tried to fix things, by building the town a clock tower. What? So Doc Brown can put Albert in the Delorean to go back in time and undo the letter? That may work in Hill Valley, California, dude, but not in New York. Anyway, Albert breaks the damn clock and then his dad went deaf. Santa did come to the town, but everyone got gift certificates to Radio Shack.
3. Nakatomi Plaza, Los Angeles, 1988
A recently divorced New York detective went out to Los Angeles to try and mend his broken marriage. Unfortunately, the office building where his wife worked was taken over by European terrorists, who demanded the release of the seven members of the New Provo Front, the five imprisoned leaders of Liberté de Quebec, and the nine members of the Asian Dawn movement, all noted insurgents of the tumultuous ’80s. The cop, being a cop, tried his best to be the hero, and eventually saved most of the hostages, though his children were forever affected after being exposed on national tabloid television and millions of dollars disappeared from the buildings secure vaults. Over twenty people died during the standoff, including several federal law enforcement officers.
4. Chicago, 1994
A 38-year-old divorced father and advertising executive for a toy company was preparing for Christmas with his son when suddenly a drunk and meth-addled Santa Claus breaks into their home, has a heart attack, and dies. The ad exec and his kid decide to steal Santa’s identity, so that they can travel for free using the sled and reindeer. Together, the work a long con up in the North Pole involving elves, a kidnapping, a suspicious psychiatrist, a tank, and the police, which lead to massive investigation. Charges are still pending.
5. Bethlehem, 0 BC
A woman was unfaithful to her husband, a carpenter, and got pregnant. She told her husband that she hadn’t been promiscuous, that the child was immaculate. So the husband, Joe, tells her, fine, but we’re walking to downtown Bethlehem to have this baby, ‘cause no kid of mine is being born in this suburb. Joe keeps expecting the wife to give up the lie, but she buries into it like it’s her job, and suddenly there’s a donkey, and a barn, and a trio of wise men with gifts, and then God shows up, and Joe’s all, “Shit, I’m in it to win it now,” so he bought into the lie too, and was eventually given a sainthood. The mother sold the rights to her image to a publicity firm, who mostly put it on plates and in lockets, and occasionally statues that would weep periodically. What happened to the child remains the source of much disagreement.
So, remember. No matter the undercooked turkeys, the horrible Christmas pageants, and the intolerable relatives, your Christmas Eve ain’t so bad.
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