Monday, December 23, 2013

What Xmas Means To Me: A Choose-Your-Own-Adventure (Infinite Monkeys)

What Xmas Means To Me: A Choose-Your-Own-Adventure:

If you, as a kid, were told that there was a Santa Claus, go to the part of your life where you believe that magic is real and everything’s going to be great on at least one day per year.

If you were not told about Santa Claus, go to the part of your life where you sit, about probably age 32, wondering if you maybe missed out on something wonderful by not having that as part of your childhood, and then tell yourself that it is silly to be sitting there, a grown woman in a business suit, waiting for a job interview looking at the little Christmas tree in the building’s lobby, to be wondering that kind of thing.

If you told yourself that, if you said Stop wondering about that, go to the part of your life where you nail the job interview and think they might even call you that day to offer you a job.

If you did not tell yourself that, splurge on a peppermint-flavored coffee on the way out of the building, but skip the whipped cream because you didn’t get to go jogging this morning.

You, the magical kid? We haven’t forgotten about you. If you learned on your own that Santa Claus is fake, then go to the part of your life where you decide to play along with Mom and Dad for one more year because you want the Star Wars ™ AT-AT action playset and Santa brings that kind of stuff.

If you were instead told that Santa wasn’t real, go to the part of your life where you sit at the kitchen table every bit as stunned as if Mom and Dad had thrown a bucket of cold water on your head out of nowhere because kind of they did.

If you are one of those families that celebrates Christmas but “isn’t really religious about it,” go to the part of your life where you pat yourself on the back for talking about doing things nobody really cares about.

If you are one of those families who celebrates "only the religious aspects of Christmas," go to the part of your life where you buy a lot of presents anyway, but don’t open them until after Midnight Mass so that you can keep the Christ in Christmas.

If you are the priest at Midnight Mass, stare out into the sea of people who haven’t even taken off their coats and wonder what impulse makes someone get out of bed and dress up to come to church at 12:00 in the night, but then says they should leave their coats on so they can get out of here without facing the crush of people at the cloakroom.

If you are me, wonder whether it is worth it to spend four or five bucks on some decals for the windows from the Dollar Store, and then decide that it is not, but buy a wind-up elephant for the office.

If you are me, too, go to the part of your life where you feel like you are in control of this story.

In fact, if you are everybody, go to that part of your life.

Everybody here? Good. Divide up into four groups. Don’t ask why. Just count off by fours.
Group 1, over here. You are the group that gets to pick a new movie that will play endlessly at this time of year, as we’re all sick of that kid with the BB gun.

Group 2, by the back, please. You will be responsible for making snickering sounds when we get to the part where the boys have to sing “Don we now our gay apparel” during the Christmas concert we are putting on.

Group 3, you’re in charge of refreshments. Put peppermint in everything and go to the part of your life where we make a resolution to lose weight ‘right after the holidays.’

Group 4, you are to console that lady from the beginning of the story. She did not get the job.

If you want to switch groups, go to the part of your life where you are always searching for something that will make you feel happy, even if only for a little while. It’s under the section labeled “Childhood,” but there are flashbacks to it in “Teens,” “Twenties,” “Thirties,” “Parenthood,” “Retirement,” and “Death.” Pick one of them.

If you are Mary and/or Joseph, go to the part of your life where you get to Bethlehem too late to get even a spot at whatever the early Israeli equivalent of “Motel 6”.

If you are Herod, go to the part of your life where you order some guys to kill a baby and think they will actually do it.

If you are the kid who found out about Santa and are still sitting there at the kitchen table, in the dark, sniffling a bit and sad, go to the part of your life where 30 years later, you are driving a nice car and listening to an audiobook on a CD. Don’t mind the drive around the parking lot at the mall because it’s a good part of the book. If you can successfully do that – drive around a parking lot still in a good mood and eventually park nearly 2 blocks away but still be happy – go to the part of your life where you go into the mall and get some pizza in the food court because you nailed that job interview today.

If you are Santa Claus, raise your mug of egg nog and toast Jesus across the bar at how successful the two of you are, together.

If you are in Group 2, please stop saying “Jingle Balls.” It’s not funny.

If you are in need of a last-minute gift, have you thought about jewelry?  Every woman loves jewelry.

Oh, you have? Well, maybe a sweater.

If you as a kid had a Santa come right into your family Christmas party and later argued about whether the Santa was your Uncle Doug in a suit or not, and at the time couldn’t remember if your Uncle Doug was in fact on the green couch as your cousin said he was, keep that as a fond memory of yesteryear.

If you are Jesus, secretly think that one of these years you are going to point out to Santa that he wouldn’t even have a job if you hadn’t come along.

If you are the priest after Midnight Mass, shaking hands with people as they hurry out into the cold night where snow is swirling, wonder if you will fall asleep in time to get a good night’s sleep before you have to do this whole thing again at 8 a.m.

If you got word from Group 4 that you did not get the job, go to the part of your life where you go to the mall, anyway.  Walk in, and go to the part where most of the food court smells like cinnamon.

If you are the guy eating pizza because that job interview went so well, go to the part of your life where you happen to see a pretty girl walking through the food court in a business suit, drinking some kind of coffee concoction, and along the way think that she has a look on her face that you recognize, but don’t know why.

If you are that woman, with the look, and the job interview that didn’t go so well, stand in the food court, smelling the cinnamon, and wonder why you are here. It’s not like you have anyone to buy for, anyway, and you don’t have the money, anyway. Plus, Mom and Dad are in Florida and you’re staying here this year instead of going to visit them.  Go to the part of your life where you walk over by the people standing in line to see Santa Claus.

Now that you are standing, off to the side of the line of people wanting to see Santa, go to the part of your life where you pretend to watch the guys flying the tiny remote control helicopters, so that you don’t seem creepy.

Now, make a choice: are you going to walk around to take a glimpse of Santa, or are you going instead to walk over to the jewelry store and window shop? You do love jewelry.

If you go see Santa, wonder why.

If you go look at jewelry, imagine getting that necklace on Christmas Day! But even the earrings would be nice, you have to admit.

If you are one of the three wise men, go to the part of your life where people have to constantly be told what “frankincense” and “myrrh” are.

If you are the reader of this story, go to the part where you figure that guy from the sad Santa news and the girl from the failed job interview are going to meet and maybe fall in love.

If you are the Baby Jesus, look around you at all the cattle lowing and stuff, and then go to the part of your life where you do some miracles and things and then they kill you.

If you are the writer, go to the part of your life where you end the story abruptly.

THINK YOU CAN DO BETTER THAN THAT? lit accepts submissions and PAYS YOU if you are accepted.  Plus there's a contest! Click the "We Pay For Stories" tab to find out more.


Tony Laplume said...

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

Briane P said...

Thanks! And man, you got up early!

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