I'm celebrating being a couple of months into my second year of blogging on Huffington Post. I want to thank everyone in the HuffPo blog community and the blog team staff. I'd like to say that this unconventional holiday post was my present for you, but, well, it just wouldn't be right. You'll see what I mean.
Gather round, children as I tell you a tale from a time long ago. A time before we lived in the perfect world you and I know today. The happy world we so enjoy, in which peace reigns on earth and no one wants more than they already have.
But it was not always this way.
The Three Wise Guys, Carmine, Vinnie and Dominic, were the first to hear of the wonderful new prophet: the prophet who would bring to the world heedless commerce and an endless array of unnecessary products. Guided by whatever star looked the most like the one they saw when they last looked up at the night sky, the Three Wise Guys made their pilgrimage to witness the birth of the baby Claus.
His name was Norbert. Mary and Joe Claus were nonplussed upon hearing that their infant Norbert would one day lead the world into a bold new era of trade and commerce. "He's gonna be the first prophet to make a profit," quipped Carmine, at which point the Three Wise Guys were asked to leave. Indeed, they would have been consigned to the scrap heap of history but for their miniaturized likenesses, which appeared in dioramas of the birth of the Claus. These were merchandised to unsuspecting citizens during the brief but unsettling time in which Santa Claus and his movement held the land in its grip. Which was soon to come.
When Norbert Claus was 10 years old, he was working tirelessly in Joe Claus' functional furniture shop when he was beset by a vision. "Father," he confided, "I see a time when we will craft more frivolous, more diversionary objects. Little vehicles with wheels that can spin, for example, called toys."
Joe thought this odd, but continued to listen. "You see, dad, people will soon be feeling a sucking void of meaninglessness in their lives. And they will need to buy all manner of toys to make them feel better. Then, by extension, when they are unable to communicate their feelings to those they love, they can buy things for them, too. These will be called presents." As Joe Claus chalked up young Norbert's musings to going a bit hard on the Red Bull, Norbert abruptly announced his departure, declaring that he must now roam from village to village, preaching this new way of life.
Before long, Norbert attracted a cadre of follower elves and a former telemarketer named Mary Marmalade, who helped him craft his 'toys' in a workshop and sell them on street corners. In this way, Norbert healed all those who wanted to use products to cure their ennui. It was Rumpo, Norbert's closest elf confidant, who suggested the beard, fat suit and boots; and the name change to the more reverent Santa. This image makeover, combined with the Sermon on the Snow Mound ("blessed are the customer service centers, for they shall help build brand loyalty...") changed the course of history. Soon, demand exceeded supply. And the news of the public's mania for gadgets and toys reached the unhappy ear of the local king, whose name was King King.
King King could not abide anybody becoming more popular than he was. He bribed Rumpo with a stack of Visa gift cards, and when Rumpo kissed his master in the Garden of GetSomeForMe, Santa Claus was jailed. Mary Marmalade sat beneath his window each night, lulling him to sleep with the moving ballad I Don't Know What To Buy Him. But with their shopping savior out of sight, the populous soon awoke as from a dream, wondering how they could ever have felt that buying useless baubles could ever replace human love.
But King King was kind, and on the day set aside for public banishment, he gave the crowd a choice. On his left: Santa Claus, accused of employing elfin accomplices and introducing the purchase of worthless objects as an opiate to an otherwise fairly well-adjusted citizenry. On his right: a man named Barnabas, who had been arrested on four counts of assault, and one count of attempting to marry an alpaca. "Which one would you have me banish?" King King asked of the assembly.
"The other guy!" shouted the crowd as one, throwing the easily flustered King into a tailspin with which he decided to contend by playing rock-paper-scissors with each of the accused. Santa Claus lost. And so he was run out of town on a sleigh pulled by nine reindeer from the stables of Rankin/Bass and angrily pelted with plush stuffed animals as he went. In a later filmed version, these violent moments were captured in hideous slow motion by director Mel Gibson.
Happily, as we know, the message of consumerism never really caught on. And from our perspective as a highly evolved society in which buying things to fill a hole inside of us is an almost laughable concept, we can look upon the legend of the Santa Claus as nothing more than a charming folk tale. A folk tale, however, that did make an excellent movie, which would be pretty awesome to watch on a brand new HD, 3D ready flat screen. That is, if you're cool enough to have one of those.
James Napoli is an author and humorist. More of his comedy content for the web can be found here.
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