The Stocking Filler

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Suggested Audio Jukebox ūüéĄ

[1] Elvis Presley¬†“Blue Christmas”

[2] Wham!¬†“Last Christmas”

[3] Bob Rivers¬†“Wreck The Malls”

[4] Adventure Square Media¬†“Elf ‘n’ Safety”

[5] Radiohead¬†“Creep”

[6] Bob Rivers¬†“Chipmunks Roasting On An Open Fire”

[7] Bob Rivers¬†“12 Pains Of Christmas”

 

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Well I guess a good place to start would be Ho! Ho! Ho! right? Too clich√©? Don’t want to be a dick but look at me. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m one big walking clich√©. Things weren’t like this in the eighties. Back then folk were only too happy to embrace the true spirit of Christmas and left mince pies and whisky on their front porches every year as a small token of gratitude for all the legwork I put in. That has all changed since the glut of home invasion movies that have surfaced over the past decade or so. It’s no longer deemed acceptable practice to rappel down someone’s chimney stack; not that I particularly mind as Mrs. Claus happens to be something of a feeder and my gout plays up something chronic in midwinter. However, I’m growing increasingly disconcerted with the children as they no longer seem to anticipate my annual visit quite like they used to. By five-years-old, I’m a myth, pure folklore, and therefore utterly redundant in their eyes. Well I’m not having it I tell you, I didn’t come all the way from the North Pole in conditions that would turn Scatman Crothers white for this shit. If that sounds like fighting talk to you then pucker up buttercups as it just so happens I’ve been hitting the gym three times a week for the past twelve months. No not gin, GYM! You see what I have to put up with? Honestly, I don’t know why I bother.

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I’ll tell you why I bother. It’s because I’m actually a stand-up guy contrary to reports and my only wish is to spread a little festive cheer for a few days each calendar year. I work my fingers to the bone for the cause and for precious little thanks it has to be said. You think it’s fun sifting through thousands upon thousands of pleading letters, half of which are practically illegible I might add. Greed appears the common thread and not once does anyone enquire as to my well-being. No it’s all “Dear mister Santa Claus, I want this and this, some of this, and a dash of this with sprinkles of that. Now don’t you let me down buster or I’ll spread the word that you touched me in your grotto. Yours sincerely, snot-nosed kid”. I mean, how am I even supposed to respond to that? Call their bluff? Perhaps but I’ve spent a night in the cells before and men with bushy white beards don’t fare well there let me tell you. No I have little choice but to satisfy their every demand and that’s easier said than done when elves have an average lifespan of 36 months. I’m telling you, I’ve had Russian hamsters that have lived longer and the staff turnover in my workshop is truly frightening. Only last week, I lost my best worker Jingle to a viral infection and his younger brother Jangle isn’t looking too crash hot either.

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People tend to conveniently forget that I run a non-profit organisation here at the North Pole and my electricity bill for this quarter alone is astronomical. Things are getting tight and I’m currently considering laying off Dasher and Prancer as I simply can’t afford their wages any longer. How do you think their families will take the news? Meanwhile, I’m the poor bugger who has to break it to them on the night before Christmas no less. Not that it matters as the only thing that’s important is that billions of naughty children are rewarded for being generally hateful and someone has to bear the cross so why not good old Father Christmas? Perhaps it will help keep the fat bastard in shape. For your information, I’m big-boned dagnabbit and particularly sensitive about my weight so don’t appreciate all the laughter when I get wedged in those chimney stacks. It may surprise you to learn that I suffer from acute claustrophobia, not to mention pyrophobia, which isn’t much fun when the logs start burning halfway down.

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Indeed, my sole pleasure comes when mommy is still up but daddy has gone to bed as a few glasses of sherry and I’m up to my spectacles in clunge. Before you go crying infidel, Mrs. Claus and I have an open relationship and I don’t say anything about her copping off with the mailman so she turns a blind eye to my extracurricular activities also. However, this in itself is a dicey pursuit as the last thing you want to hear when just about to fill her stockings is “Mommy. Why is Santa bending you over the sofa?” Trust me, it has happened on more than just the one occasion, and is normally followed by the sound of pops loading up his air rifle. Have you ever been shot in the earlobe with one of those things from ten yards by the way? Not something I’d recommend. To make matters worse, I’m incredibly fertile, so it invariably ends up with even more insubordinate ankle biters to facilitate come next Christmas. Not to mention the alimony. It’s hard to dodge those child maintenance demands when every fucker in the free world knows your postal address.

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Then we have social networking and that is one headache I could really do without. Granted, I may have amassed 3.25 million Twitter followers, but they still won’t verify my account as @Santa_Claus6257 hardly sounds authentic now does it? I’d love to see the 6256 other bogus Father Christmases put in a shift and share the workload some, just for making me feel so totally unspecial. Some of them haven’t even got the decency to link a photo to their bio which means I’m further down the pecking order than around 600 faceless eggs for chrissakes. Worse still, it’s just another avenue for all the bleeding hearts of the world and yet more administration to deal with. Everyone wants something from me and, just once, I wish someone would return the favor. I have needs too you know. For example, were you aware that my boots need reheeling? Cobbler’s fees are extortionate and these things offer precious little in the way of ankle support after decades of wear and tear. Speaking of which, I thought the retirement age was supposed to be 65. You wanna know how old I am? Three-hundred-and-twenty-six. Surely that should warrant at least a gold watch. Fuck it, a Casio will do. Anything to make me feel slightly less than the biggest mug in existence.

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Listen, I don’t want to bitch and gripe at such a joyous time of the year, really I don’t. But you can see my predicament right? It’s the night before Christmas and I’m run off my feet here with last-minute preparation and working out my journey planner on skeletal staff. The reindeer are growing restless in the paddock and team morale is at an all-time low. Plus there’s the bronchitis I’ve been battling for the past few days and there isn’t a pharmacy in over 6,000 miles so I’m left combating this steadily worsening blight with out-of-date Lemsip. Heaven knows what a chest X-ray would flag up right now, if I carry on at my present rate of knots, I’ll be spending new year in the emergency room. Have you got any idea how hard it is to get seen to when you’re dressed up like Kriss fucking Kringle? The medical staff just presume I’m wasted and pay me little mind unless I cough up my stomach lining in their register.

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Then there’s the fact that those in the waiting room who actually are inebriated think it highly amusing to pick a fight with Father Christmas just to relieve a little of their pent-up aggression. When I took this thankless gig in the first place, I distinctly recall my application stating that I’m a hugger, not a brawler. Yet last Christmas I was left nursing half a dozen badly bruised ribs after some quick-tempered cob roller decided I was looking at him funny. How am I supposed to look at people any other way wearing this ridiculous get-up? All I’m asking for here is a little recognition for acting like a bloody saint 24/7/365, a pat on the back or simple “chin up fella” would suffice, anything just to make me feel a little less woefully undervalued. Alternatively I could choose to go on strike and watch on as the entire free world descends into overnight chaos. Parents would then have to explain to little Timmy why his ordinarily over-spilling stocking is narrower than Gandhi after Ramadan and there’d be outright pandemonium I tell you. It’s tempting but, despite my many grievances, I can’t allow that to happen without at least giving this Santa gig one last shot.

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So here’s the game plan. I’m going to make a single house call and, depending how that turns out, I’ll either sign up for another century in the trenches or hang up the reigns once and for all and spend my Christmas on a fishing trawler off the coast of Phuket. Just to spice things up, my chosen child will be a little girl I’m all too familiar with, and number one on last year’s naughty list. Six-year-old Lacey Hopkins may appear a bona fide sweetheart at first sight and it’s tough not to fall in love with her cute dimples, adorable little button nose, and rosebud lips. However, beneath this pixie-like veneer lurks a beast so foul that her own parents leave her unattended at the mall just hoping she’ll get snatched and become someone else’s constant headache. You wanna know what this little bleeder got up to in 2015 that saw off all competition? A quick heads-up in advance, it’s quite the list of misdemeanors I can assure you. You have been warned.

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In no particular order, Lacey was single-handedly responsible for the untimely death of over a thousand worms, kicked the neighbor’s cat Mumford seven times, sold her mother’s brand new diamond earrings at school for $6 and spent the proceeds on itching powder which she then proceeded to empty into mommy dearest’s pillow case, feigned sickness no less than seventeen times to get time off from her studies, bit the tip of her baby brother Todd’s index finger clean off and blamed it on the family dog which then had to be terminated, tampered with her father’s cologne and replaced the musk with paint thinner, trod on a felled baby bird even though it was showing faint signs of recovery, accused her senile meemaw of striking her when her parents had their backs turned, ran a rusted nail along her most hated teacher’s brand new Honda Civic, never once cleaned her room despite being repeatedly reminded, hid a decomposing shrew’s corpse behind daddy’s favorite armchair, told over a thousand half-truths and almost the same number of barefaced lies, intentionally shat herself five minutes after the school bus departed for a field trip on the hottest day of the summer, and then had the gall to send me a less than polite correspondence insisting that I cough up a top of the range iPad. Did she get it? Well yes actually but only under strict instructions that she get her act together by this time next year.

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Thus what we’re looking at here is an acid test of sorts. No pressure Lacey but the Christmases of billions hinges on you towing the line for twelve months without a single hiccup and I’m not accepting vague improvements either. Currently Mrs. Clause is compiling this year’s naughty list and I’ve expressly requested that she not reveal the results so as not to sway my judgement. I want to look deep into the whites of Lacey’s eyes and see for myself whether children really are the future. Failure to please me will have dire repercussions the world over and could potentially finish off Tim Allen’s career in the process. My conditions may appear harsh but they’re also fair; you get nothing for nothing in this world so why should I be the only one shelling out? At any rate, the reindeer are now fed and watered, sleigh bells ringing, and tabernacle choir singing so there’s no time like the present to begin the festivities. It’s a 6500 mile round trip from Lapland to¬†Massachusetts so I’ll leave you in the capable hands of my freshly appointed number one elf Randy to keep you entertained during the interim. See you on the battlefield my festive friends.

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Merry Christmas you say? Well I do beg to differ,
You see two of my friends just got quite a lot stiffer,
I checked for their pulses, performed CPR,
but needless to say, didn’t get very far.

 

It’s less blessing more curse, being elven’s the worst,
as nothing quite works out the way it’s rehearsed,
Every day a fatality, sudden death’s a formality,
so excuse me if I lack a winning mentality.

 

The future looks bleak, as I turn three next week,
and in elf years that makes me some way past my peak,
I eat well every day, balance work, rest, and play,
so my lifestyle choice should give me some kind of say.

 

I regret to inform you, that’s just not the case,
if you ask me I think it’s a bloody disgrace,
all my constant endeavor and in all kinds of weather,
won’t sweet talk the reaper as he cuts my last tether.

 

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Death may come to us all but I’m sick of his visits,
not to mention the lacklustre care he exhibits,
every morning before I climb out of my bed,
he’s outside with his bell, screaming “bring out yer dead”.

 

The concept of dying so young is outrageous,
I’ve not tasted beer, never once been to Vegas,
all I’m asking for here is a dash of perspective,
if you think me unruly for not being festive.

 

Put myself in my shoes, metaphorically speaking,
If you knew you were dead meat, I swear blind you’d be freaking,
may I make a request for a thought to be shared?
I’d soon perk right up if just one bugger cared.

 

Won’t be holding my breath, that’s a fast-track to death,
thus to give up all hope seems the only choice left,
but I’ll do the right thing, offer up some last words,
I hope you all come down with bird flu you turds.

 

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Rightio, the eagle has now landed. What’s that? Has Randy been running off at the mouth again? That little good-for-nothing is a liability. I would dock his wages but he’ll be as stiff as a bishop’s pecker by the time Mrs. Claus gets around to payroll duties so all I can do is apologise profusely and hope that cuts it. However, time she’s a wasting, and there are far more pressing concerns right now than an obnoxious elf who’ll be six feet deep by new year anyway. There’s still the small matter of Lacey Hopkins to attend to and first I will be required to negotiate the chimney stack. Had I mentioned that last Christmas Lacey placed a dozen or so mouse traps strategically around the fireplace? You see what I have to contend with? I’ll tell you this for free, if that little fucker gives me any grief whatsoever this time, I’ll beat her to death with my sack with God as my witness. If that sounds suspiciously like fighting talk then you betcha. You see, within every good Santa, there’s a bad Santa just itching to break free. Stick around for a few minutes and I’ll introduce you.

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Goody gum drops, no mouse traps this year. Well that’s a turn up for the books. Granted, I could have done without the discarded roller skate at my point of insertion but I’m willing to provide Lacey the benefit of the doubt on this one occasion and put that down to accidental hazard. I know I’m an easy touch but lest we not forget I’m still Santa Claus at the end of the day. Besides, I reckon I can get her bang to rights on something far more heinous if I bide my time. Speaking of which, Mrs. Hopkins is passed out on the couch in the flimsiest of n√©glig√©es after drinking herself into oblivion, presumably on account of birthing the antichrist. I’m sure it wouldn’t harm none if I took a brief diversion from the task at hand, after all, I did just travel right across the globe on a sleigh that’s all set for the scrap heap, led by a skeleton crew of embittered reindeer and in sub-zero conditions. If that doesn’t earn me at least a fondle then I’m taking this shit to tribunal.

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While I’m not particularly up with the current lingo, the term M.I.L.F. springs to mind and you wouldn’t believe she’s fast approaching menopause to look at the old girl. I’ll be a mere whisker away from the perfect gentleman and we’re only talking a swift hand up her nightie and perhaps a quick jizz across her face should she fail to stir. Judging by the amount of booze she’s knocked back, I’d say mommy’s face will be well moisturized by sunrise and that’s the true spirit of Christmas right there in my opinion. Actually scrap that, I’m having a spot of trouble locating a pulse here. Perhaps I’m checking in the wrong place. No I’m pretty certain she’s a goner you know. The empty bottle of amitriptyline she’s clutching in her dead hand offered my first inkling that something wasn’t kosher and you don’t listen to Radiohead on the night before Christmas unless the clouds are rolling in. I do have one question – would it be deemed inappropriate to slip her the old candy cane while she’s still above room temperature? It would? Of course it would, that was purely hypothetical I assure you. Curses.

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No rest for the wicked, I must remain focused and get back to the real reason I’m here. If memory serves, Lacey’s room is second on the left and, if I’m in any doubt once I’m up there, the 666 etched into the door frame is a dead giveaway. It’s going to take inhuman restraint not to bound straight in there and karate chop her in the throat while she sleeps but I’ve got my eyes on the win and can’t allow emotion to overrule me at the critical moment. Instead I shall tap her on the forehead, wait for her sleepy eyes to acclimatize, then hit her with the million dollar question “nice or naughty bitch?” and all ten clenched knuckles as soon as she supplies the painfully predictable answer. After that, I’m off duty effective immediately and the first thing I plan to do to celebrate my new freedom is to punt a pigeon into the estuary just because I damn well can. Such behavior wouldn’t be acceptable for a Santa but, by then, I’ll be plain old Dennis Claus once more and just itching to act out like the menace to society I always dreamed of being.

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There she is laying there all angelic, looking like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth. Don’t let her cherub-like appearance fool you for a second, this one’s a wrong ‘un I tell you, a wrong ‘un. All I can think of currently is how easy it would be to place a pillow over her face and elbow drop it WWE-style. Why stop there when I could wedge a block of wood between her ankles and cave them in with a sledgehammer like my old friend Annie Wilkes? The possibilities are endless and, if it weren’t for the fact that there’s been one death in the family already this evening, I’d get medieval on her ass without a single bat of the eyelids. However, I have an obligation to keep up my end of the bargain, and it’s a foregone conclusion anyway. Let’s find out what kind of monstrous acts Lacey Hopkins has been indulging in during 2016 shall we? Cover your ears Rudolph, you don’t need to be hearing this.

“Merry Christmas Lacey”

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“Santa Claus? Is that you? Could it really be you?”

What does she fucking think? Not sure what gave me away, perhaps the white beard, the ridiculous outfit, or the fact that I’m covered head to toe in brick-dust.

“Yes indeed it is. The one and only at your service. I told you last year I’d be back to check on you”

“Mommy said I must have dreamt it but I knew you were real. Does she know you’re here Santa?”

Oh bollocks! Damage limitation time methinks.

“She’s…erm…out cold”

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“Never mind, I’m just thrilled that you came back”

“I gave you my word didn’t I?”

“Yes but I thought you’d be far too busy to fit me in”

“Well I moved a few appointments around especially”

“You did that for me?”

She may not wish to get too excited just yet. Thirty seconds ago, I was this close to bashing her skull in with a soldering iron and the urge is still pretty strong.

“Yes Lacey I did. You see, Father Christmas is a man of his word”

“Wow!”

“Of course, there is the small matter of a little unfinished business to attend to. Do you remember the conversation we had last year Lacey?”

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“I do”

“And how did that play out? Jog the old man’s memory will you?”

“You said I was a repulsive little brat and that there’d be big trouble if I didn’t get my act together in 2016”

Credit where it’s due, she may be the embodiment of absolute evil, but she’s also clearly a keen listener. That said, so was Hitler and it didn’t stop him marching six million innocent Jews to their premature graves.

“So I did. Well remembered. I guess we should get down to business then. Right then Lacey, nice or naughty?”

“Nice Santa. I’ve been a really good girl and turned over a new leaf just for you”

Waiting for the punchline here. Bear with me, it’s coming. I just know it is.

“Nice? You? Lacey Hopkins?”

“Yes Santa. Everything you said was true, I had been horrible and didn’t deserve any presents after how I acted. It got me to thinking and my new year’s resolution was to change my ways”

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She’s got to be tugging my tinsel. Come to think of it, her wish list was both legible and remarkably well-mannered this year, but I naturally figured she’d badgered some wimpy kid into writing it on her behalf.

“And how did that work out for you? Remember I can smell a lie like a fart in an igloo”

“Pretty well actually. I helped mommy with the baking, cleaned up my room, started a rescue home for injured baby birds, smoothed things over with my neighbor’s cat Mumford, removed the rotting shrew from behind daddy’s favorite armchair, and didn’t miss a single day of school all year”

“Come now dear, you can tell your old friend Santa Claus. You must’ve slipped up at least one time”

“Well…maybe just once”

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Aha. Bang to fucking rights. I knew she couldn’t keep it up for a full twelve months. I wonder what sort of felony she committed this time. Perhaps she superglued her kid brother’s eyelids shut or laced his drinking beaker with rat poison. Hit me with your best shot devil child.¬†

“I did tell one lie”

“I knew it. Fess up you little grunt. What kind of despicable yarn did you spin this time?”

“Mommy wanted to know why I was taking so long to come down for my dinner earlier and I told her I was doing my homework”

“And you’d snuck out your window to kick away an old lady’s Zimmer frame while she was crossing the road and watch her dentures shatter on the asphalt. Am I close?”

“No. I was wrapping up a pair of earrings to replace the ones I stole from her jewellery box. She said they had great sentimental value so I saved my pocket-money up all year and bought her some new ones. Diamonds were a little out of my price range but the man in the shop said they were faux pearl. I wanted it to be a surprise for her after all I’ve put her through”

“Oh!”

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“You look disappointed Santa. Does that class as naughty?”

If only it did. I’m just itching to climb a stepladder and drop a breeze block on her sternum but the rules are very clear on lying and there are extenuating circumstances whereby it’s acceptable to tell the odd white one if for the greater good. Pesky loopholes.

“No Lacey it doesn’t. You’ve been really nice and should be proud of yourself”

Now I’m the liar in the room. You see, I’m of the opinion that she should rot inside a corpse’s shell for condemning me to another hundred year stint in the sodding workshop. I was really looking forward to putting my feet up as well.

“Thank you Mr. Claus for making me see that naughtiness doesn’t pay”

“You’re welcome”

I do hope she can read the sarcasm in my tone.

“My, that’s a big sack you have there Santa”

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“I get that a lot. Oh you mean the presents. Yes of course. Well fair’s fair I suppose. I think you’ll find everything there that you requested, apart from the Snacktime Cabbage Patch Doll, that was recalled for getting a little too bitey so I had to settle for Chef Barbie instead. I hope that’s acceptable”

“Absolutely. I’m grateful for anything I get after all the mean stuff I did last year”

“Right then, well I guess I should be off. All these presents aren’t going to deliver themselves you know”

“I understand. It’s getting light outside. Thank you Santa Claus for making me see that Christmas is about kindness and giving, not being horrible and selfish. I’ll never be naughty again and it’s all because of you”

I wonder if she noticed that I just threw up a little in my throat.

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“Pleased to hear it Lacey. Keep up the good work”

“I will. In fact I’m going to give mommy her present to unwrap right now”

Fuck a platypus in its duck-bill, I forgot about mommie dearest. This could be awkward. She’s going to be devastated. That reminds me, I’d better wipe the jizz off the old girl’s cheek before I leave.

“Whoa there. No need to be so hasty. Mommy must be whacked after baking all those mince pies. Why not give her a lay-in this morning? At least until I’m out of the zip code”

“Good idea Santa. You’re the best”

“Uh-huh…Is that the time? Okay then, cheerio and Ho! Ho! Ho!”

“Bye and thank you again”

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Enough with the gratitude already you little shit pip. I’m already feeling like the biggest bastard in the Antarctic and could do without the additional lashings of guilt thank you very much. Besides, I’ve got far greater concerns right now like how to break it to the missus that we can’t spend next Christmas in the Waka Waka Islands like I’d promised. However, I’ve never once welched on a bet and don’t intend on breaking that duck now. One last thing, considering Mrs. Hopkins is as dead as a dodo, do you think she’d mind terribly if I left through the front door? It’s just so much more dignified. No? Well Bah Humbug to you too. I didn’t mean that, a very Merry Christmas to one and all and I hope that 2017 is filled with light and magic. Don’t spare another solitary thought for Santa Claus. I’ll be fine, no rest for the wicked and all that. Actually there is another thing before we part ways for another twelve months – against all odds, mommy is still slightly above room temperature. Does that make it okay to…no of course it doesn’t. You’re quite right. Just throwing it out there.

Click here to read Season’s Grue Things

 

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