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The true meaning of Christmas

There are questions that have baffled scientists for millions of years: What the heck is eggnog? Better yet, what the heck is “figgy pudding?” And why do the carolers who sing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” always force their listeners to get in the kitchen and fix them several batches of it? Talk about rude! I mean, let’s get real — if the main ingredient in this stuff truly is figs (I don’t know what they are, either), can it really be that delicious?

These important issues naturally lead into a slightly less important, yet equally relevant question: What is the true meaning of Christmas? To find out, let us examine a few of this holiday’s most cherished traditions.

According to the disciples of Jesus, the most important element of Christmas is the depletion of one’s bank account via purchasing gratuitous numbers of gifts for one’s parents, siblings, friends, cousins, second-cousins, second-cousins’ cats, ex-spouses, and ex-spouses’ brothers’ nephews’ pet sheep. For years humans, particularly of the female gender, have been wandering aimlessly into stores and buying random cute, little items in bulk, which they then cover in cute wrapping paper and couple with cute Christmas cards depicting fat, bearded men and large, antlered mammals. This strange practice, one that many women begin as early as July, apparently originated in biblical times, when shepherds got sweet deals at Best Buy and were able to buy the baby Jesus an Xbox 360 and Call of Duty: World at War for the price of just two arms and a leg. As the infamously incoherent Little Drummer Boy so eloquently explains in his famous song, “Our finest gifts we bring, pa rum pum pum pum, to lay before the King, pa rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum...”

One particularly heart-warming Christmas tradition centers on holiday commercials, without which families would be unable to gather together in their living rooms and yell obscenities at their television sets, which regardless of channel will not stop re-playing those timeless holiday lottery scratchers commercials or those ever-realistic Lexus commercials. And without the annual December invasion of hundreds of nauseating jewelry commercials, what would become of the sacred yearly ritual of diamond hunting? This tradition witnesses hundreds of men across America guilted into buying their wives outrageously priced fake diamonds at Kay Jewelers, where, as we all know, husbands are required by law to buy something before being able to kiss their wives.

And what would Christmas be like without all the fake Santas gallivanting about malls all over the world? Well, probably a bit less ridiculous and a lot less creepy, to be honest. Every year thousands of nervous mothers stand in line for hours in anticipation of seeing their innocent little children climb onto the lap of a middle-aged, overweight, possible ex-sex offender named Joe, whose blatantly cotton beard, empty promises and body odor leave even the children wondering, “Holy s$!#, why is this smelly old dude caressing my arm?”

Speaking of Santa Claus, just who is this mind-bogglingly magnanimous old-timer anyway? I mean, here’s a guy who, in the midst of freezing his ass off in inhospitable weather conditions and having to put up with all Mrs. Claus’s crap in the kitchen — where she can’t seem to bake her way out of a shoe — is forced to spend every waking moment of his day fixing countless toys broken by his incompetent worker elves, a species of obnoxious, tiny-handed little brats who — let’s face it — have absolutely no business putting together your Xbox 360. Then, after all his toil in the shop, he is faced with the daunting task of single-handedly delivering gifts to every single Christian in the world via an average-sized sleigh that must hold not only his obese tub of lard but also, by my count, more than two billion presents! And who else to lift this severely elephantine vehicle into the sky but a species of Subarctic-dwelling deer whose genetic makeup renders them just as capable of flying as former President William Howard Taft was capable of running the mile in less than 10 minutes? Poor Santa. Even when he gets back home to the North Pole, the most appreciation he gets is from his drinking buddies, who shout at him, “Hey Kringle! Thanks for the toy! Too bad I’m 40, for Christ’s sake! Now get me another beer!”

There are still many other Christmas customs whose meaning and importance have yet to be fully understood. Take the Christmas tree, mistletoe and Frosty the Snowman, for example. Who in the name of Moses came up with this screwball assortment? It will perhaps always be a mystery, just like the true meaning of Christmas, which from where I’m sitting appears to involve love, friendship, togetherness and, hopefully, an Xbox 360.

Nick’s column runs weekly Fridays. He can be reached at