Just Damn Funny – How the Angel Got On Top of the Christmas Tree

By on Friday, December 18th, 2009
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Illustration by Juan Pablo Canale Banus

Illustration by Juan Pablo Canale Banus

It wouldn’t be fair to describe my upbringing as Pagan. Paganism implies that one worships something, be it the Sun God Ra, the trickster Pan, or Zeus, God of Thunder and Lightning. No, my formative years were largely devoid of religion. Specifically, my family aligned itself with a brand of Unitarianism that required no actual religious practice of any kind. It was beautiful, really. We could call ourselves Christians and eat ourselves into a comatose state on all the relevant holidays, but we could also shoplift and engage in guilt-free masturbation.

We did celebrate the holidays, too. Easter was all bunnies and chocolate eggs, and Lent was a word I had heard somewhere. But as a family, we did (and still do) buy into Christmas a bit more than the other big days on the Christian calender. It is after all the most important, what with the birth of Christ having been arbitrarily placed on December 25th in order to coincide with the already popular pagan mid-winter festivals, thus easing the conversion of the peoples of eastern Europe.

So every year we get a tree and put lights on it and decorate it with a variety of hideous ornaments that my brother and I created through sheer talent and will power during the long, hot hours of our preschool craft time.

We top our tree with an angel, and every year as my mother pulls out the realistically-rendered, red-robed heavenly guardian she bought about ten years back (and I push hard in favor of the chintzy, haloed female figure my great-grandmother made god-knows-when out of gold wire and a plastic champagne glass) my father clears his throat and asks: “Did I ever tell you the story of how the angel got on top of the Christmas tree?”

It is one of my most cherished Christmas traditions, and one I would like to share. So allow me to present, to the best of my ability, my father’s story of How the Angel Got on Top of the Christmas Tree.

It was Christmas Eve at the North Pole, and Santa Clause, as is not unusual for a man of his carriage in a high stress position, was on the verge of a massive coronary. Or an aneurism. Or possibly both. He had just discovered 653 pages of the naughty – nice list wedged between the cushions of his sofa, and while most of the children on it were naughty, he was still short almost 17,000 gifts. He was contemplating reinstating a plan he had used once years before wherein toys already belonging to naughty children are stolen and re-gifted to nice ones, when a gruff, older elf approached him carrying a rocking horse fitted with a saddle made from old glow-in-the-dark watch hands.

“Uh…Santa?” Said the elf.

“Yeah, what is it?” asked Santa, turning to look. “Great God in Heaven! What were you little morons thinking?!”

“Well,” said the elf, “ever since this whole Indiglo thing came up, we don’t really have a lot of call for the old glowing hands, so we thought maybe, you know, this might work. They’re a little pointy, but…”

“They’re not just pointy, you nit-wit! They’re radioactive!” He slumped down onto a nearby bench. “Christ, if that one ever gets out…”

“Now Santa, not a single cancer-related death was ever positively linked to our watches. Besides, remember in the 50’s? We used to stuff stockings with cartons of Lucky Strikes.”

At this Santa sprang back to his feet, suddenly fuming. “It doesn’t Goddamn matter about one rocking horse! I’m THOUSANDS of gifts short!”

“Well, why don’t you just take them from the naughty kids again and…”

“And have INTERPOL back up my ass?” Bellowed Santa. “They’re still after me from the last time! Get out of here! Get that thing away from me!” At this the elf tucked the possibly leukemia-inducing rocking horse under his arm and scurried out of sight. Santa paced back and forth, breathing deeply, lacking even the patience to go out and check the reins on the sleigh, an act that usually calmed him down.

Just then one of the little Christmas Angels approached him. Santa disliked this particular Angel quite a lot. A little, vacuous, blonde thing named Tiffany with a habit of talking about incredibly inane subjects for long periods of time without ever pausing, even to breathe. “Santa! Santa!” she shouted. “Santa, Vixen is sick so she’s not givin’ it up and Blitzen, you know how he gets frustrated quickly, well, he got to feeling a little randy and he tried to hop up on Prancer which pissed Dancer right off even though Dasher told me that Dancer told him that things between he and Prancer aren’t even going that well lately and he’s thinking about asking for a new place in the lineup but anyway he socked Blitzen a good one and…..”

“ENOUGH!” roared Santa! “Just grab the cattle prod and tell those sniveling sacks of crap to get their game faces on! It’s Christmas freaking EVE!” The little angel staggered back a few steps, eyes wide, and then skittered off through the nearest door. Santa found himself alone once again, but couldn’t calm down. He stood with clenched fists and shouted at nobody.

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