How To Screw Up Christmas On a Magnificent Scale

Forgot to move the elf? Got busted for regifting? It could be worse.

If you ever feel like you’re shitty at holidays, please allow me to make you feel better. In fact, I want you to bookmark this story and pull it out over the next few weeks whenever you’re having a bit of guilt over acting with less than perfect holiday spirit. If you think you’re not doing Christmas right, just tell yourself that at least you’re not this bad. Here you go:

* * *

Where we live, there was this one Santa in town that EVERYONE went to for decades. I’m talking about a traditional, legendary, local custom kind of thing. A few years ago, when my kids were itty-bitty, that Santa passed away. He was old; it was time. It happens. And of course, it was in the news, because he was a beloved public figure of sorts.


[Here comes the part where you can feel better about yourself because you’re not me. Get ready!]

At that point in our lives, my kids were not yet old enough that they really made an effort to listen to things I said to other people in front of them. They were more concerned with poking each other in the eye, singing the alphabet, and trying to eat things they found on the floor of the car. So it didn’t even occur to me that they’d overhear when I said to a fellow parent at the park one day:

“So. Did you hear Santa died?”

Wait. WHAT?
Wait. WHAT?

Let’s run that line back one more time, just for impact:


Yes. I said that. Out loud. Around children.

I’ll let you imagine all the backpedaling, explaining, and creative myth-adjusting I had to do after one child piped up, “Santa?” and another, “Died?” and then a bunch of others crowded around, chirping “Santa? Died? Santa died? Dead Santa?”

The point is this: When you’re feeling bad about yelling, “GODDAMMIT, WHO ATE JESUS?” when the dog chews up the Holy Infant from your tabletop Nativity*, just remind yourself: At least you didn’t tell a bunch of kids Santa died.


(* That also happened at my house.)

Ho ho ho, friends.


  1. Sadly, I didn’t even realize the problem until you wrote….”Let’s back that up” then it occurred to me! SO something I could see myself doing (but glad I didn’t!) LOL

  2. Okay, I was chuckling about the dead Santa, but after the “who ate Jesus” thing I have to explain to everyone at work why I spit coffee into my keyboard and have to reapply my makeup. I haven’t laughed that hard all year! Thank you!

  3. Goddamn, who ate Jesus?! I’m dying here!

    I was poking around a bin in Michael’s craft store before Easter when I found a curious thing–a realistic paper-mache rabbit head mounted on top of an equally realistic stick. I pulled it out and announced loudly, “The Easter Bunny’s HEAD ON A STICK!” Cue the shocked silence and the slow wail of children beginning to cry. Whoops. I got death stares from the moms.

  4. I love it!!! Thank you for being you!!! I literally laughed so hard I snorted! The holidays are so crazy in our household…sooooo many things to coordinate and remember! I also love that your nativity set is made out of Legos! **high five**

  5. Baby Jesus has not made an appearance in our Nativity in years…somehow he ended up in the toaster oven the same year a grilled cheese got slid into the VCR….the camels are also standing next to a three legged Peruvian pig. But I have to say I never said santa was dead. This was really laugh out loud funny truly!

  6. Hilarious! I’m with another commentor spitting coffee over my keyboard that was so funny.
    If it makes your dog or you feel any better my Mom still loves telling the story of me as a two year old,eating baby Jesus from the nativity set. Apparently I only managed to gobble down the bottom half and he was hence forth wrapped in an aluminum foil blanket. Swaddling clothes indeed.

  7. How come we haven’t met? We’re both undiscovered Babble bloggers and Blogher Voices of the year and Yeah Write gridders, we’re practically related.

    Very funny post. I let the cat out of the bag about Santa when I was 13 and my six year old brother screamed “I’m going to my room until I’m old!” Except I thought he said “Until I mold” which caused me to laugh until my mother smacked me. Fun Christmas memories.

  8. Why aren’t you my friend? I mean, why aren’t you my friend with whom I hang out during moments like this? Because, dude, I SO could have helped with the lying to cover your ass part. Well, had I been able to stop laughing long enough to create a coherent sentence, I mean.

    And we have problems with Jesus all the time in our house, too. He kept falling off the wall and down behind the couch and sometimes into the heating vent. Of course, he looked like a mutant pill bug so I’m not surprised he was hiding himself.

  9. This had to be the best thing I have read in a long time…and I feel your pain. I’ve done this – and I’ve had a similar experience with poor baby Jesus – only someone lit him on fire. Awesome.

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