December is here, and with it the Yuletide spirit has come rushing in.
Today, December 6th, is St. Nicholas Day, recognized by Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, and other Christian denominations worldwide. The historical saint's image has been preserved and passed down through the ages and morphed and changed in the cultures, mythos, and legends of the peoples of the world. In America, today the Saint is best recognized as the chubby, rosy-cheeked, white bearded man adorned in a fluffy red coat, an image spawned and popularized by the Coca-Cola company in the 20th century, and re-dubbed "Santa Claus." The group of ideas associated with that name is now inseparable from the historical saint whenever you bring up his name. The real, historical figure who lived in the 3rd century in Asia Minor was likely vested in Christian clerical bishops' robes for most of his day, and the black cassock/tunic he would have worn underneath for the rest of it. He would have been olive-skinned, and emaciated due to the fasting that came along with his clerical and monastic vows. By all accounts he really, truly cared for people, and went out of his way to help them, putting their physical and spiritual needs before his own. He did this daily, and year round, caring for people's real needs, not just giving them things they want in one magical night before the morning of the nativity.
Regardless of the transmogrification that his appearance and character have undergone in the modern public eye, St. Nicholas has stood the test of time and remains today a figurehead of the holiday season and its spirit of good will toward mankind, giving, forgiving, and seeking to serve and help others who are less fortunate than ourselves. In that regard he is still very much here and among us, and I like to think he meets us where we are, taking a form now in our postmodern, consumerist society, that we all can understand and identify as a good and saintly type of person. In that spirit, I'm posting a story that's (sort of) about the Saint, in a way. There is a famous legend about St. Nicholas of Myra dropping gold coins into the drying socks hanging outside on the windowsill of a man and his three daughters under the cover of night so that the destitute widower would not have to sell his children into slavery. And that is how the tradition of hanging Christmas stockings began. (Or in many cases, setting your shoes out for St. Nicholas on the evening of Dec. 5th, to find him having filled them with goodies the next morning!)
This story is quite loosely based on that legend- it is a humorous tale, both a ridiculous and absurd one, lighthearted and meant to make you laugh. It reads to me like a skit from "Tim and Eric's Awesome Show, Great Job!" on Adult Swim, one of my favorite, most bizarre comedies I've ever seen. It is really silly, but like all my stories, (at least I like to think so and strive for this in my writing) there is something for everyone who reads it, and while it is funny and not meant to be taken seriously, there is still an underlying dimension of depth beneath the surface of even the seemingly silliest story, for those willing to dig deep enough to find it. I wrote this 2 years ago in July 2017, thinking of a vague notion of Christmas in July, and have gone back since and touched it up and embellished here and there to present it here to you tonight. The name of the man's best friend in the story went through several changes from the rough to final draft, starting as simply "Ted," then transforming to "Kris," and finally, and I think most appropriately, "Nick."
Well, without further ado, here is the story. As always, I hope you read and enjoy it. I hope you laugh and it warms your heart, and brings you good cheer as the holiday season begins.
We could all use a little more absurdity, the kind that makes us smile and/or laugh in our lives, after all.
-St. Nicholas Day, 2019
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