Baby Jesus and the Gimpy Heathens
Thank Jesus and the Baby Jesus, it’s over. No more of that shitty music playing everywhere, the retarded decorations, bah humbug, and no more tacky Santa and Baby Jesus manger yard sets. Best of all, an end to what the holiday has come to mean to most Americans: unabashed and mindless consumerism.
As an aside, the whole virgin birth thing (not to mention parting the Red Sea, walking on water, and a host of other magic tricks) never added-up for me – the dots simply don’t connect, and I don’t believe it any more than I believe in the Easter Bunny. I do, however, give props to the creative storytelling.
“You stay,” Craig said, shutting the dogs inside. I was at his place in Fort Collins to take him to the hospital. Tally looked at us with sad eyes and perky ears, and Charlie, Tally’s brother and absolutely the sweetest dog in the world, thumped his Santa Claus cast against the floor – every time he goes in for a cast change, the vet school students paint a new design. “Man, Tally’s got the worst farts,” Craig said. “Afraid she’ll drive away all the hot nurses.”
Profess piety? Volunteer at a homeless shelter. Give to the needy. Help someone – even if they believe in a different fairytale than yours. Be grateful. It’s weird how, on an individual level, an overwhelming majority of people seem good and without malice. Yet about half the population (or more, based on recent elections) support policies and politicians that ensure the richest get richer while the needy suffer. An overwhelming percentage of these people claim to be Christian (most Americans claim Christianity, and more so on the conservative right). I’m no Bible expert, so correct me if I’m wrong here, but I’m pretty sure it goes, “Love thy neighbor” – not “Fuck ‘em.”
I’m convinced that, as a collective people, our greed and hubris will consume us. Yes, Merry Christmas, reality.
Anyway, Charlie’s leg cast comes victim of an idiotic chick’s unleashed Pitbull-mix’s (yes, he, like your Pit mix, had never done this before…) completely unprovoked attack on him in a city park this fall. For the rest of Charlie’s life, he won’t run, and Craig made him a trailer for his bike so Charlie could again feel the wind in his face.
Before Charlie’s leg, as Tally suffered mysterious health problems that included loss of vision, they’d still chase the ball in the yard. Craig describes Tally chasing around, but sometimes running into things, unable to find the ball. After a few rounds, Charlie stopped going for the ball himself and would lead his sister to it, until she was so close she could see it, pick it up, and together they’d run back to Craig in a double bundle of unchecked happiness.
I feel sad for them, but they don’t seem to feel sorry for themselves. I look at Craig and his dogs and remind myself that I’ve been a whiney bitch about this shoulder thing, and my pissy Christmas attitude isn’t helping.
“Maybe we could’ve brought Charlie, tell ‘em he’s your service dog,” Craig mumbled as we hobbled toward the hospital doors. “Huhuhuh.” Yeah, funny guy. Like that gimpy bastard should talk. He’s the only one of my friends more fucked-up than me. I was driving him to his third neck surgery – he’s probably had a dozen overall – and around to help with recovery. As to his wisecrack, OK, sure, I still limp a little, with those three plates and 20 screws in my right leg, and my left arm hangs in a sling from a massive shoulder surgery three weeks ago. As we walked I stopped and bent over, twisted to the side, popped my back a bit like I do – remnants from my 2005 spinal reconstruction – while Craig tried to turn without moving his head and neck. I caught a glimpse of myself in the hospital doors, and saw that the strands of gray hair added a nice touch to my five-day scruff and mullet, which had overgrown the remnants of the stripes I shaved in the side of my head. OK, maybe I could use a service dog.
The people at check-in asked Craig if he had a helper and driver. He tried not to laugh and kind of nodded in my direction. Long silence behind the desk.
“OK, sir,” the cheery old woman suddenly said, “We’ll just need you to sign here, and here’s your guest pass.”
“Is there a bar in this hospital?” I asked, just for effect. She smiled and laughed – a holiday-induced nicety? – if so, cool, I can get behind anything that gives us an excuse, or reason, to be nicer to one another, or to connect with those we care about. (Which begs the requisite question: What have we become that we need a reason for that?)
A few days later, back at Craig’s house, he struggled to walk though excruciating pain as the dogs bounced around, tongues flopping, wiggling their butts – neither have tails – completely unaware or unconcerned about their conditions. Craig tried to herd them together and I set the timer for our Gimpy Christmas photo. Charlie smiled, his Santa Claus leg cast tapping on the floor, and Tally wiggled with joy, her latest round of chemo helping her feel normal again, completely unaware or unconcerned with the incurable bone cancer that’s not only giving her nasty farts, but that will take her life in a few months.
I had to smile, because at least someone had the spirit, and those little rascals didn’t even know it was Christmas.