Happy Humbug

The two walked, heading down the snow-covered sidewalk toward Jerry’s house. They had traveled in silence for the better part of the last half-block or so, the only sound between them the rush of the cold winter wind over frigid asphalt, the crunch of frozen snow under heavy combat boots. The stars in the stark indigo sky twinkled unobtrusively, silent observers from their place high above.

After just half a block more, Jerry had decided that the silence that hung in the air between the two of them had become far too heavy and awkward, and he opted to speak.

“Shit, it’s cold.”

“Fucking cold,” agreed Glenn Danzig, shoving his hands deep into his coat pockets.

“I can’t believe it’s almost Christmas already, can you?”

“Tell me about it.” He punctuated his reply with a scowl. “If I have to listen to one more goddamn caroler singing some tired-ass version of ‘jingle bells,’ I’m gonna fuckin’ puke.” Jerry found himself sighing, shaking his head.

“Did you get your mom something, dude?”

“Yeah,” answered Danzig, a wolfish grin playing upon his features. “The gift that keeps on giving. Jack shit.”

“Glenn. Why do you hate Christmas?” Glenn shrugged his narrow shoulders, a maddeningly lackadaisical gesture.

“I don’t hate Christmas,” he responded, matter-of-factly. “I just hate everything it idealizes.”

“What, you mean the joy and warmth and sense of giving?”

“No, jackass. I mean the shallow commercialism, the emphasis on materialism in society, washed-up fat-asses in shopping malls in cheap red suits, and--oh yeah, there’s that whole God thing I’m not too fond of.”

Jerry outright rolled his eyes.

“Danz, why you gotta be such a fuckin’ Scrooge?”

“Because somebody’s got to do it.”

“You’re a complicated bastard, you know that?” Danzig just smirked.

They reached the stop sign at the end of the block and turned the corner, and it was at that moment that an idea that was not quite an epiphany came to Jerry. Without warning, he took Glenn by his leather-gloved hand and started off up the sidewalk.

“Fuckwit, your house is the other way,” laughed Glenn, not protesting as Jerry led him, somewhat blindly, into the dark. “I think all this Christmas cheer crap has finally fried your brain. Where the hell are we going?”

“You’ll see,” replied Jerry. “I want to show you something.”

“For your sake, this better be good.”

They continued down the remainder of the block--Jerry smirking with self-satisfaction, and Glenn bitching and berating him all the way.

At the end of the street, they turned another corner, and Jerry thought he might have seen the look of mild petulance lift and give way to surprise, maybe even well-disguised wonderment.

“Holy crap.”

The street that reached ahead of them was a perpetual Christmas wonderland--each house and every yard bedecked with twinkling lights. There were, at the very least it seemed, a million tiny lights as far as the eye could see--running lights, flashing lights, solid lights of all sizes and colors. The focal point of the entire display, however, lay at the far end of the street.

The majestic two-story, split-level home looked like a snapshot from the cover of a Christmas greeting card. Old-fashioned, multi-colored bulbs adorned the snow-covered rooftop, the warm glow of faux candles brightened every window. The window frames sported red lights and tinsel, and every tree in the yard was festooned with strings of lights and colorful glass ornaments. Even the sidewalk leading up to the doorstep was lit by floodlights in the shape of giant, striped candy canes.

“Holy crap,” Glenn repeated as his eyes drifted skyward, where a silver Star of Bethlehem illuminated the very rooftop.

“Isn’t it awesome?” Jerry mused wistfully.

“It’s…something.” There was a long moment’s silence, in which Jerry fathomed--nay, dreamed--he might actually have gotten through to Glenn. Maybe, just maybe, he might see the light of the holiday spirit and come to recognize Christmas for what it truly was. (After all, it had worked for the Grinch and Ebenezer Scrooge.) But as Jerry watched the look of halfhearted awe fade into the more commonplace sardonic cynicism, he knew all his hoping was sorely in vain. Ah, hell, there’s always next year.

Glenn was shaking his head, eye still on the Star of Bethlehem.

“These poor fuckers are going to have one hell of a utility bill come January.”

Jerry just sighed, resigning himself not for the first time, nor would it be the last, he was certain. Presently, it dawned on him that perhaps, where Danzig was concerned, this was as good as it was going to get. “Can we go now? I’m freezing my balls off.”

“Sure thing, Ebenezer.”

“Hey, Happy Humbug.” Glenn laughed.

Jerry couldn’t help but smile.