It would have been the best Christmas ever if Mrs. Steward hadn’t called my step-mom and gotten me grounded. Now I’m stuck in my room with no TV, and I can’t even play with my new Wii U for three whole days.
It all started on the last day of school before Christmas break. Mrs. Steward, my fifth grade teacher, assigned us a holiday report to deliver in front of the entire class even though all of the other classes got to have parties and eat cookies and drink pop.
“It will be fun to learn about all of your Christ — holiday traditions,” she said. “Whether your family celebrates Christmas, Hanukkah or...Kwanza,” she said, emphasizing the last word as she stared uneasily at my best friend Dante.
Dante raised his hand, but spoke without being called on.
“I celebrate Christmas,” he yelled. “I’m Puerto Rican!”
All the kids in the class laughed.
“Yes, of course,” Mrs. Steward said. “Now, who is up first? Yes, Kevin please come up and give your report.”
I stuck my hand into my desk and pulled out a wad of paper. History report on the Revolutionary War. Math homework. A picture of boobs I tore out of a magazine I found in my Dad’s closet. And beneath it all, The War on Christmas.
I was supposed to talk to my family about our holiday traditions and write a 500-word report, but I totally forgot about it until the night before and my step-mom was too busy “baking” pies from Marie Callender's and my Dad was hanging up Christmas lights, so I asked my Uncle Mickey for help.
Mickey was supposed to come over to help Dad hang the rest of the Christmas lights, but he just sat in the barcalounger next to the couch in the living room and drank all the beers that dad hid in the garage fridge. I stepped over the presents under the tree in the living room, paper and pencil in hand, and approached Mickey on his reclining throne.
“What do you need there, champ?” Mickey said, belching loudly.
“I’m supposed to write a report about Christmas tra—”
“More like the War on Christmas!” he cut me off. “I’ll tell you something. If we don’t stand up for our rights, Ayatollah Obama and his socialist caliphate gestapo are gonna piss all over them.”
He crunched the beer can in his hand and dropped it on the beige carpet next to the chair.
“You like those presents?” he asked, pointing towards the tree. “Well kiss ‘em goodbye.”
A pitter-patter pitter-patter strummed in my chest and heat rose in my cheeks.
Kiss ‘em goodbye? That’s what he said. This injustice could not stand, I thought. I needed to learn more about this War on Christmas, so I could tell the other kids how we can stop it.
Mickey went on to tell me all sorts of interesting facts about Ayatollah Obama and how he’s going to destroy Christmas for good Christians like us. I wrote it all down.
Now here I was, ready to read it to the class.
After discreetly putting the boob photo back in my desk, I walked to the front of the class and uncrumpled my report. In front of God and my peers, I stood in front of the whiteboard and prepared to tell my classmates the truth about Christmas.
I looked over at Mrs. Steward, who sat at her desk reading an issue of People magazine that had a lot of shirtless actors on the cover. She didn’t seem to notice me, so I just started reading.
“The War on Christmas,” I said. “Christmas is under attack by the liberal encyclopedia. When my Uncle Mickey was a kid, everyone said Merry Christmas, even to the Jews. Now you gotta call it a holiday party or that Yahtzee Obama will have you arrested. Holiday party? Call it a goddamn Christmas party for Christsakes. What is this world coming to?”
Dante and some other kids in the back of the class laughed loudly.
Lizzy Arnold sat in the front row with her mouth so wide open I could see her tonsils. She raised her hand to try to get Mrs. Steward’s attention, but the teacher just sat reading her magazine.
“Kevin said a curse!” said Lizzy. She pointed at me over and over again and all of her jangly bracelets clanged together.
That startled Mrs. Steward. “Um, oh yes, Kevin, please keep your language appropriate,” she said and then went back to her magazine.
“Uncle Mickey said you’d try to censor me,” I said. “He told me to say this isn’t Chinatown you know!”
Mrs. Steward waved her hand at me without looking up. “Yes, yes, carry on.”
I cleared my throat and stuck my tongue out at Lizzy. I heard Dante laugh in the back of the class.
“If you don’t think the War on Christmas is real, then Uncle Mickey says you’re nothing but a bunch of Peeps blindly marching to Death Metal,” I said. “And when the Walmart greeter says ‘Happy Holidays’ instead of ‘Merry goddamn Christmas’ it’ll be all your fault. Because you let an alien without an earth certificate abduct the White House.”
Lizzy’s arm shot up again.
“Mrs. Steward, he cursed again!” she said.
Mrs. Steward put her magazine down on the desk again and exhaled loudly. She ran her hand through her curly graying hair and turned to look right at me.
“Kevin, if you cannot control your language, I am going to have to call your parents,” she said. “Do you understand me?”
I looked towards her desk. “Uncle Mickey says folks like you are too hypocritically correct, and we shouldn’t let you steal our freedom.”
She looked at me for a few seconds and then shook her head and grabbed her magazine again. She turned it to a page full of abs, and I started to read.
“Before you know it the Gaytheists are going to replace Christmas with a big pride parade and instead of presents, we’ll all be getting goddamn hearing aids.”
Lizzy stood straight up. “Mrs. Steward, he did it again!”
With her magazine rolled up in her fist, Mrs. Steward stood up and turned to me.
“Kevin, this is your last warning,” she said. “If you swear again, you’re out of here young man. I am going to call your parents and get you in serious trouble.”
I took a deep breath in and scanned the classroom. Thirty sets of beady eyes were glued to my position and thirty eager faces awaited my response. I spotted Dante in the back, his mouth curled into a smile.
“Yes, Mrs. Steward.”
Dante’s jaw dropped and audible disappointment could be heard emanating from the other students. Little did they know that I had no intention of heeding Mrs. Steward’s warnings. For she could threaten me with referrals and detentions and calls to my folks, but those threats paled in comparison to the thought of losing the War on Christmas and never getting presents again.
My classmates, my fellow Americans, needed to know what Uncle Mickey had taught me. They needed to know the truth, so we could save our presents. So I continued to read.
“If we don’t do something soon, the left-handed Cosmonauts are going to make God get out of the Pledge of Allegiance and the terrorists will replace the Bible with the crayon. The only way to save America and God and the Bible is to vote for Donald Trump. Otherwise, America will go in the shitter.”
Lizzy jumped out of her desk, and several other kids laughed loudly.
Before she could get the rest of the name out of her mouth, Mrs. Steward flung her magazine to the ground and stood up, stiff as a board. The room fell silent. Her face gradually turned the color of spaghetti sauce until she finally exhaled.
“Goddammit, Kevin!” Mrs. Steward said. “Go to the office! I am calling your mother.”
Dietary Restructure A family man decides to get a consultation from a nutritionist. But when he realizes that losing weight will mean cutting out food items like cheddar fries, he obfuscates: all in good taste, of course.