On television they're trotting out the Christmas classics, from The Grinch (he's a mean one, isn't he? Until he's not) to It's A Wonderful Life (yes, I still cry every time I see it) to seemingly-infinite versions of A Christmas Carol (my favorite, as you probably know by now, is the 1951 version starring the incomparable Alastair Sim).
Here at Creation Point we have a long-standing Yuletide tradition, a short Christmas tale of mine called The Truth About Santa Claus—offered annually as a kind of cyber Christmas gift, my way of wishing all of you who visit this site the happiest of holidays and the most magical of Christmases. I offer it again this year, along with three wonderful illustrations by my friend and Edward Gloom Mysteries collaborator Vassilis Gogtzilas. So grab a plate of Christmas cookies, pull a chair up close to the fireplace and enjoy.
Here's to a new year filled with health, happiness, prosperity, abundance, creativity, magic—and love above all.
See you all in 2023!
THE TRUTH ABOUT
“THERE IS NO SANTA CLAUS!”
He’d been thinking about it for days—ever since he heard Big Mouth Jenny Rizzo announce it on the school bus—and he didn’t believe a word of it, not one word. (Well, maybe ONE.) But Cody had to be sure, absolutely, positively sure—
—and that’s why he was hiding behind the couch at midnight on Christmas Eve.
His mother was there, asleep in his dad’s old easy chair, the reds and blues of the Christmas tree lights making her look peaceful and happy and impossibly young.
The tree, by the way, had not ONE SINGLE PRESENT underneath it.
That didn’t make sense. If there WAS no Santa Claus, if his mother was the one who bought the presents, wrapped the presents, stacked them under the tree, then how come she hadn’t done it? How come she wasn’t awake RIGHT NOW arranging them all?
He got scared. Maybe there wasn’t going to BE a Christmas this year. Maybe Mom had lost her job and they didn’t have any money and so she COULDN’T buy him any presents and—
And then Cody glanced over at the windows and noticed that it was snowing.
Or was it?
If that was snow, it was the WHITEST snow he’d ever seen. It was snow as bright as moonbeams, as bright as sunlight, as bright as...
Quickly, but quietly (he didn’t want to wake his mother), he scurried to the window and looked out.
It was coming down and coming down and COMING DOWN all across town, whirling and whipping, spinning and gyrating, out of the night sky. Glowing so brightly that it almost hurt his eyes to look at it. And Cody saw that it certainly wasn’t snow, and it absolutely wasn’t rain, it wasn’t ANYTHING he’d ever seen before. But each drop, no...each flake, no... each BALL of glowing WHATEVER IT WAS, seemed to pulse and spin, soar and vibrate, as if it were alive.
And the stuff, the magical WHATEVER IT WAS (and he knew now that it was magic. He just KNEW), wasn’t collecting on the streets, wasn’t piling up on the rooftops. It was MELTING INTO (that’s the only way he could put it: MELTING INTO) every house (no matter how small) and apartment building (no matter how big).
EVERY house and apartment building.
He looked up.
And there it was: coming RIGHT THROUGH THE CEILING of Apartment 3F, HIS apartment, swirling, like a tornado of light, around the chandelier and then down, down, down—
—STRAIGHT FOR HIS MOTHER.
At first he almost yelled out a warning, “Mom! Wake up! MOM!” But something made him stop.
Instead of yelling he ducked back behind the couch and watched, eyes peering over the top.
Watched as the light-tornado wheeled around his mother, so fast, so bright, that he could hardly even SEE her. But he COULD see her. Most of her, anyway.
And what he SAW...
The light poured in through the top of her head, through her eyes, through her chest, through her toes. It lifted her up—still sleeping!—and carried her out of her chair and across the room. And as she floated—
—she started to change:
Her hair became white, her nose became red, her belly ballooned like the most pregnant woman in the history of the world. Her feet grew boots, her head grew a hat, her nightgown grew fur. An overstuffed sack sprouted, like a lumpy angel’s wing, from her shoulder. And then—
AndthenandthenandTHEN, it wasn’t his mother there at all, it was him, it was SANTA CLAUS! STANDING RIGHT THERE IN CODY’S LIVING ROOM! Santa Claus who, with a laugh (exactly like the laugh Cody always knew he had, only better) and a twinkle in his eyes (exactly like the twinkle he’d always imagined, ONLY BETTER) reached into his sack and pulled out package after package, present after present, and placed them, carefully, like some Great Artist contemplating his masterpiece, under the tree.
When he was done, Santa Claus stood there, grinning and shaking his head, as if he couldn’t BELIEVE what a beautiful tree this was, how wonderful the presents looked beneath it. As if this moment was the greatest moment in the history of Christmas, as if this apartment was the only place in all the universes that such a Christmas could ever POSSIBLY happen.
And then the MOST amazing thing happened:
Santa Claus turned.
He turned slowly. So slowly Cody couldn’t even tell at first that he was moving at all. And—slowly, SLOWLY—those twinkling eyes, that Smile of smiles, fixed itself on the two boy-eyes peering, in wonder, over the top of the couch.
And what Cody felt then he could never really say: only that it was better than any present anyone could ever get. Only that it made his heart so warm it melted like magical WHATEVER IT WAS, trickling down through his whole body. Only that it made him want to reach out his arms and hug Santa Claus, hug his mother, hug his father (and FORGIVE him too, for running out on them) and his aunts and uncles and cousins (even his Cousin Erskine who was SUCH a pain) and Big Mouth Jenny Rizzo (who really wasn’t so bad most of the time) and all his friends and teachers and the kid in his karate class who always smelled SO BAD and, embarrassing as it sounds, it made him want to hug everyone and everything in the whole world including rabbits and snakes and trees and lizards and grass and lions and mountains and, yes, the EARTH HERSELF.
Cody wanted to hold that gaze, to keep his eyes locked on Santa’s, forever. (Or longer, if he could.) Wanted to swim in that incredible feeling, drown in it, till GOD HIMSELF came down to say: “Enough!”
Except that he blinked. Just once. But in that wink of an eye, Santa was gone. Cody’s mother was asleep in the chair again and, for one terrible moment, the boy thought that the whole thing must have been a dream.
Except, under the tree: THERE WERE THE PRESENTS.
Except, out the window: THERE WAS THE SNOW, the rain, the magical WHATEVER IT WAS, shooting up, like a blizzard in reverse, from every house, every apartment building. Shooting up into the heavens, gathering together like a fireball, like a white-hot comet—
—and fading away into the night: going, going...
Without so much as a tinkling sleigh-bell or a “Ho-ho-ho.”
Not that it mattered.
Cody looked at his mom.
Cody kissed her.
“I love you,” he said. And he was crying. Happy tears. Christmas tears. Like moonbeams, like sunlight. Like stardust.
Mom stirred in the chair, smiled the softest sweetest smile Cody had ever seen. “I love you, too,” she said.
And then she drifted back to sleep.
Cody sat at her feet, warming himself, warming his SOUL, by the lights of the tree.
And soon, he, too, was drifting off to sleep. And as he drifted, a wonderful thought rose up, like a balloon, inside him. Rose, then POPPED—spreading the thought to every corner of his mind. Giving him great comfort. Great delight:
“One day,” the thought whispered, “when you’re all grown-up, when you have children of your own. ONE DAY,” the thought went on...
“It will be YOUR TURN.”
Story ©copyright 2022 J.M. DeMatteis
Art ©copyright 2022 Vassilis Gogtzilas
A beautiful story. Love the concept and execution. Brought tears to my eyes. We should all keep that magic and pass it along.ReplyDelete
Thank you! Happy Holidays!Delete
Actually... Dematteis... the REAL Christmas tradition is me telling you Vassilis Gogtzilas i not real. Hopefully, one day you will understand.ReplyDelete
No, Dematteis, there is not a Vassilis Gogtzilas. It would be nice if that were the case, but he is only a fantasy that lives in the hearts of children and hippies in the holiday season.
I will ALWAYS believe in Vassilis!Delete
I like grapes, but I don't like raisins. I do like other dried fruit though. I go nuts for dried cherries. What do you think,is there a Seinfeld joke in there.ReplyDelete
I don;t know if you get invited to the Justice League headquarters for their holiday party, but I was wondering something. How often, and how long does it take, for them to descend into a plan to orchestrate a fake "Christmas Carol" for Batman?
Not because he is cheap or any of the normal Scrooge stuff. Because he is so damn mopey all the time. They have the means to fake ghosts of Christmas what-have-yous.
Superman: He is my best friend, and it gets lonely for him around the holidays.
Green Arrow: He has a Butler, who is like a father, and like a million sidekicks. ANd...oh YEAH! A billion dollars. He did not work for it either. typical 1 percenter.
Hawkman: Ollie..weren't you...
Green Arrow: I gave it away!
Hal Jordan: He does keep coming up with new plans to kill us "just in case" and says we would not understand.
Superman: I will say, when I asked him his plans he "said "the JUstice LEague." As if it would take all of us. I am a reporter. I could sink his whole schtick with 800 words.
Wonder Woman: Yeah, and I once asked him about raising Dick Grayson and he said "it is so he does not end up like me." What? That is nice and all, but you are an adult, You get that you act like a jackass... and still don't change?
Green Arrow: And every time one of his murder plans get captured by a supervillain... isn't once too much?... He goes "my parents are dead, I know the darkenss of life!"
First, not the point, bro. The point is a villain stole them. Not to mention I AM AN ORPHAN! Clark, you claimed dead parents as your motivation in 1939, 5 months before he did. Hal watched his dad die in a plane crash. It is just apretty common thing. with our type.
Superman: I hate to say it, but I was talking to some guys in teh MArvel Universe. Spider-Man is orphaed. Lost his uncle, because of himself. Lost a second father figure, then said father figure';s daughter, who he was dating. Lost his own daughter. Has believed his aunt died like 50 times, and is always broke. And he can crack a joke and have pleasant chit-chat.
Ben Grimm was orphaned. Grew up in a slum. Lost a brother to a gang war, and is trapped as a rock monster. Still, I can;t sign on for do this to Bruce. Maybe just a talk.
Hal Jordan: You know Clark, there You, Captain America, was born in the slums. Came of age in the depths of the Great Depression. Lost his father to alcoholism, and a mother to pneumonia. Something Bat's money could have helped prevent. Even in out universe, Billy BAtson is the purest hearted, and annoyingly cheerful, and he is an orphan who grew up in the system. Except for the realities where he was raised by an abusive uncle, until he was homeless.
Superman; I am not saying he doesn't need to get out of his own head a little more, but people have different coping mechanisms. He is rich, money seperates people from reality sometimes.
Hal: Come on, don't you remember when he was having fun adventures with Robin? Smiling and fighting aliens? The Bat-tusi dance?
Green Arrow: Or in the 70s, when he would get into shirtless sword fights with immortal bond villains and date Silver St. Cloud?
Superman: He is my friend You can;t just go screwing with your friends heads. You have to help them heal, and become there best selves. Through honest conversation.
Ollie: He said social media might be the future of crime fighting, AND said he was fond of something called Bat-anon?
Wonder woman: He also told me that Billionaires are the REAL oppressed minority in America ...
Superman: Goddammit Bruce. (sigh) who is going to be Jacob Marley? I am NOT going to be hos Belle.I look terrible in a wig.
And so another Christmas tradition is born!Delete
Wait, is the tradition planning it, or "pulling a CHristmas Carol" on Bruce?Delete
Or, are they going to switch to a new Leaguer every year?
"Ollie, stop acting so smug and..what? oh yeah... quit calling everything a creeping cancer. Or you will wind up...well, not unloved...but definatley have people skipping phone calls."
"Guy Gardner, if you don;t stop being a jack ass you will where these ... I don't know, heavy light constructs... you forged in life."
"Ted Kord....drop the doughnut."
"Hal... let someone Green Lantern for like five minutes."
"Clark if you don't...wait, why did we think Clark needed this? He is the only one of you jerks who checked in me when I was sick. Was this Bruce's idea?"
Hope you enjoy the holiday season, and you old tradition of singing my glories of the year to yout friends and family.
And you keep on singing mine! ; ) Ho-ho-ho!Delete
I don;t want to freak you out Dematteis, especially before the holidays...bu, I think you had a comic come out this week.ReplyDelete
You're right! I did! Happy Holidays, Jack!Delete
I guess it is really DURING the holidays. Hanukkah has been going on all week.Delete
That is an embarrassing typo.
P.S. I read the comic.
Just in case your wondering about me and the comic. In the Peter Parker v. Kraven's kid debate, I am on Peter's side. Mark me down for firmly against pointing a rifle in someone's face, Height of rudeness.Delete
Your morality is admirable.Delete
Hello, J.M. on behalf of your russian fans (Muhammad and Anton), I beg you to dedicate your next spider story (if it's in the plans, and we hope it's in them!) about Dmitry. And we would be very happy if the events took place in our time. Respectfully yours, Anton and Muhammad.ReplyDelete
Hi, Anton and Muhammed. I assume you're talking about the Chameleon? It would be fun to write that character again. He's so multi-dimensional!Delete
Thanks for the answer! And yes, we meant the chameleon.Delete