First off we were not, as the song suggests, jingling bells the entire way. We jingled the bells occasionally to alert other motorists so they wouldn’t sideswipe our sleigh. It was more of a panicked, thrusting bell-ringing than the sort of high-spirited, merry melody the chorus implies.
And trust me, we were not laughing all the way. We were clenching our teeth and holding on for dear life as Pa tried to merge into thruway traffic from the shoulder, and none of the cars would let in our horse, Chestnut. We were terrified, damn it. You’d be terrified, too, if your family vehicle was a one-horse open sleigh. All because Pa worked at the sleigh factory that shut its doors last month and they gave employees sleighs as severance pay.
So there we were—Ma and me hugging on the sleigh’s floor, shaking those bells for all we were worth, pleading with Pa to use the back roads, which he claimed were for suckers. We hated the snow and we needed the snow—what were we going to dash through once springtime arrived?
“Frosty the Snowman”
We’d been out in the woods for hours hunting our dinner—we were half-starved, we would have eaten anything. That was when we came across the dancing snowman. The lyrics would have you believe we laughed and played and thumpety-thumped with him as though it were perfectly normal to encounter such a creature. Truth was we were cold. And hungry. And a bit irritated at his jolliness.
Hunger makes men do strange things, and we took after him like any of the woodland creatures over which we had dominion. I don’t recall any corncob pipe, but the coal-black eyes were true enough. That’s one thing you never forget after a kill. You never forget the shade of its eyes. We made a soup out of him. What else could we have made?
“Twas the Night Before Christmas”
Let’s get something straight—it twas not the night before Christmas, it twas early February, about six weeks later than we expected Santa. As the lyrics say, our socks were indeed hung by the chimney, along with our button-downs, slacks, and delicates. Who could afford dry-cleaning anymore?
It wasn’t Santa’s fault he was so late on his delivery. It’s expensive caring for a workforce of elves and a herd of magical reindeer, and as the subprime mortgage crisis worsened he had no choice but to outsource the entire operation to Bangalore.
The Bangalore people worked hard for about one-quarter less what the North Pole elves earned. But the real difference came from the cost savings of using water buffalo instead of reindeer. They did cause a clatter and made quite a mess on a new-fallen snow. But based on their body mass, there was no way water buffalo could prance onto our roof. Santa mostly herded them down the street.
Now Amar, now Kalik, now Lakshmin and Dharmesh
On Vishnu, on Sandeep, on Rajiv and Mukesh
To the top of the porch, to the top of the wall
Now go eat some hay. But not too much.
Let’s clear up a couple misconceptions: Santa doesn’t laugh like a bowlful of jelly these days. He doesn’t spring to his sleigh or magically rise up the chimney. Like the Bangalore elves, Santa is now paid by the hour, which is why it’s taken until mid-February for most of us to get our presents.