Like a lot of you, I am basically a monster, and, as, is the case every year, this holiday season has filled me with bile. All that time spent with friends and family and red felt decorations? By the end of the year I will have barfed on all of these things. Indeed, not a Christmas passes where I don't silently hope for it to, somehow, disappear entirely, and be replaced perhaps with a half-day at work. Wouldn't that be great?
Think of the boost to the economy.
But this year, after vomiting on a Christmas display in mid-September, I decided to finally do something about it, and over the past few weeks, have been trying to steal Christmas. And no, I don't mean merely breaking into people's houses and stealing their presents and Fizz-whatsits and Who-Hash. That wouldn't steal Christmas, but merely ruin it for a few poor souls. I wanted to actually steal it. I wanted to steal the entire day.
So here's what I did.
I reasoned that as long as the date December 25th exists, people will forever associate it with Christmas, and feel joy on and around this date. Desperately needing to stop that, I knew I needed to end December 25th forever.
This is basically what's happening in my brain all the time.
My first thought was to simply break into the factory where they make all the world's calendars, find the right Publisher file, and replace December 25th with something. "Funday" or something like that, but cooler. But after a bit of research, I discovered that there wasn't just one calendar factory, but multiple ones, scattered throughout the world, and that none of them were really close to my house. I investigated a couple methods of doing this from afar ...
... but didn't have much success.
What my research did uncover though, is that I wasn't the first person to try and change the calendar. What we now consider "the" calendar is the Gregorian calendar, first created by Pope Gregory XIII in 1572, because that's apparently one of the powers God gave the Pope.
"Man, do I not want to go to Ted and Judy's thing on Friday. Let's just get rid of Friday this week."
Which at least gave me a clue for the next phase of my plan.
I knew it would take some doing to convince the highest office in Christendom to cancel Christmas, it being exactly the kind of thing they're quite big on. But working in my favor was my years of experience as a comedy writer, and the undeserved self-confidence that has given me. So, I created a Tumblr with my thoughts on why Christmas should be cancelled, slipped in a couple hilarious image macros and tweeted it at the Pope's new Twitter account. The Tumblr and tweets have been deleted now, as per the request of the relevant higher authorities (see below), so I can't share them with you now, but, in essence, I complained about all of the widely-discussed problems with Christmas: the commercialism, the familial strife and the chocolates with gross liqueurs in them.
But the Pope apparently doesn't read many of the tweets sent at him, which is perhaps a prudent move, considering all the horrible assholes that use Twitter, and, after a week passed without any shocking Christmas-cancelling news from the Vatican, I knew my opening gambit had failed. More extreme measures were necessary.
Blackmailing the Pope is almost, by definition, really, really hard. By necessity, the Pope has lived a fairly clean life, with most of his pre-Poping hobbies related to being an upstanding member of the Church. Interestingly, he was briefly a member of the Hitler Youth, although that's pretty old news by now, and was apparently an involuntary thing anyway.
"I also never inhaled."
The only possible way to blackmail the Pope is to trick him into doing something blackmail-worthy first, and only then send him a manila envelope with the incriminating photos and a crazily-written note concerning Christmas elimination.
I arrived at the Vatican two days later with my crazily-written thoughts, two cases of sacred wine and a goat with a taste for sin...
The end is, um, hollow.
... and after creating a clever ruse to win the Pope's trust ...
... I proceeded to get absolutely nowhere near the Pope. It turns out there's a whole big operation just to keep people like me away from him, as I was politely informed by a member of this operation while he was stepping on my neck. A highly-educated neck-stepper it turned out, when he informed me of yet another flaw in my plan: although Pope Gregory XIII introduced the Gregorian calendar, its acceptance around the world wasn't immediate, and was only really secured with the political influence of the Church during that era. And even in countries where the Catholic Church wasn't so popular ...
... the calendar was still eventually adopted because it made sense. "You," my neck-crushing tutor explained, "aren't making any sense. No government in the world is going to use a calendar you propose."
Of course. The government. My next step was obvious.
Editor's note: Nope. We're not even going to joke about this.
After I'd finally shaken the Predator drone, I disappeared for a few weeks into the Los Angeles underground, the President's parting advice echoing in my mind: Hallmark controls everything.
Two days later, I stopped outside the fence of the Hallmark Central Plant, underneath the blood red skies.
An unearthly wail from within, as the furnaces were fed with the bodies of the damned.
Cutting the fence, I ducked inside the perimeter, sprinting across the apron and clambered up a drain pipe to the roof. There, as I pried off the cover to the roof vent, I heard the sound of footsteps behind me. I spun around, flourishing the Jefferson Nunchuks I'd recovered from the vault of the Founding Fathers.
"Be at peace my son," said the Pope, stepping out of the shadows.
"The Pope!" I said to the Pope.
"It is I," the Pope confirmed. "I've read your Tumblr, Chris. And, although I do not approve of some of the language you've employed, your points are sound. Commercialism is one of the great challenges of our modern age, and for it to have perverted a celebration of the birth of Christ saddens me greatly. I shall develop a new way -- a better way -- to celebrate His birth. But to do that, we first have to destroy the beast." The Pope threw back his Pope cape, revealing a leather suit, strapped with knives. "Now let's kick some ass."
Just then two Hallmark guards burst out of a door, armed with submachine guns. Before I could react, the Pope closed the distance between them, unleashing a spinning kick that sent one guard flying through a plate-glass window. Sidestepping around a burst of fire, the Pope launched a vicious salvo of punches into the other guard's neck, sending him through a different plate-glass window.
"OHHHHH SHHHHIIIIIIIT THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING!" I yelled.
The Pope gave me a look which said that he still wasn't impressed by my language.
Inside the Hallmark factory, the Pope and I kicked rich amounts of ass, fighting our way to the central computer core, where all the world's calendars were programmed. After subduing the sinister Hallmark calendar technicians, with their lidless, unblinking eyes, we stood before the central core.
"Do it!" The Pope said.
"You got it Your Holiness," I said. "Let's see if this ... dates ... something ... pun. g*******t."
Before I could earn another rebuke for blasphemy, the sound of bells and hoof steps was heard from the roof above. Down, down, down the smokestack came the sound of rollicking laughter, followed moments later by Santa Claus, my nemesis in red velvet.
"Chris Bucholz. The Pope," he said, addressing us warmly. "I understand what you're trying to do here. The tradition of gift-giving has gone too far; conspicuous consumption pains me as much as it does you two."
I set the Jefferson nunchuks a-twirl, ready to silence this prince of lies for the last time, before a Pope-ish hand rested on my shoulder, staying me.
"But there is still good here," Santa continued. "Christmas is still a time spent with friends and family. Laughing. Sharing stories. Just being there for each other. This is mankind at its best, not its worst. Surely, you can appreciate that, Pope."
The Pope nodded. He appreciated the hell out of this.
Santa nodded and turned to me. "Chris Bucholz, you are awful. No reasoning -- no logical argument, no call to your better nature -- will ever make you accept Christmas. Your heart of tarnished tin will not permit it."
"All true, Nemesis."
"You leave me no option. To save Christmas, I will have to blackmail you." He held up a scroll of paper. "On this list are all of the naughty acts you have committed this year."
I licked my lips. Even the Pope looked surprised, and I think a bit jealous. "You couldn't have seen everything," I said. "I did a lot of that when it was dark out."
Santa coughed, and put on his reading glasses. "January 1st," he said, reading from the note. "Fouled the dishwasher."
"It was a New Year's party, and the bathroom was busy for like ten minutes," I said.
"January 1st," he continued. "Fouled the dishwasher."
"You did that one already."
"You did it twice."
"So you don't see everything. I did it three times."
Santa put the note away and looked at me sadly.
I sighed, seeing his threat to its inevitable conclusion. "If I destroy Christmas, you'll release this naughty list to my various enemies, who will use it to tear me down from my perch atop society."
Santa and the Pope shared a look. "Sure," Santa said.
"Cracked is very well-respected these days," I said, feeling the need to defend my perch. "And I'm like ... the sixth best guy they've got."
"Sure, sure," Santa said, that condescending bastard.
As we walked out of the factory, I leaned in to Santa. "So, this probably means no presents again this year, right?"
Santa nodded, padding the pocket with the list in it.
"Actually," the Pope said, "You can have this back." From out of his Pope Mobile he withdrew this:
"Oh, Pope," Santa said, punching his shoulder affectionately. We shared a three-way high five.
Chris Bucholz is a Cracked columnist and came pretty close to dying from the flu while writing this, so if it gets weird towards the end, it's not entirely his fault. You can check on his condition on Facebook or Twitter.
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