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  • Writer's pictureJ. Griffin Hughes

A Visit From St. Braddock

Updated: Dec 22, 2023

‘Twas a few days to Christmas, and I must admit

My joy for the season was waning a bit.

The traffic each night would get even worse

As shoppers sped mall-ward to empty their purse.

The radio stations seemed soulless and bland

With trite re-mixed carols from pop stars and boys bands.

And family demands left me thinking bliss

Might best be found giving Christmas a miss.

What is Christmas really? A manufactured occasion

Combining traditions both Christian and Pagan,

When saying “Happy Holidays” can put you at risk

From the wrath of the religious and of atheists.

Sure, when I was a kid the whole season seemed wond’rous.

I'd stay up Christmas Eve with my heart beating thund’rous,

Awaiting presents from Santa -- who I believed in like Cupid,

The Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, and things equally stupid.

But now I’m a grown-up. I pay bills and shave,

Counting days and phone upgrades from here to the grave.

I was blogging all this when I heard from outside

The deep, distant thrum of a wild guitar slide.

To my window, I turned and was shocked there to spy

A cherry red Chevy way up in the sky,

‘57 I think, chrome shining, convertible,

Flying my way through no power discernible

But eight flame-hoofed reindeer at its front, and a man

Who held fast the reigns of each beast in his hands.

Without seeing his face, I was sure of his name.

I leapt to my feet and couldn’t help but exclaim

In a burst of surprise, “Slap me with a Haddock!

It’s Santa’s most bad-ass helper, St. Braddock!”

The night air filled with the first fiery swell

From the start of AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell,”

And over that rumble, his deep voice rang out,

Calling each reindeer by name with a shout,

“Now, Ozzy! Now, Angus! Now Freddie and Lemmy!

On, Walken! On, Pacino! On Belushi and Clooney!

There's work to be done -- grumpy asses to cheer,

Who need it like no other time of the year!”

Such a strong urge I felt hearing those words to flee,

For I knew that St. Braddock was coming for me.

In my driveway, he landed. From my desk, I got up.

My door knocked. I opened.  Said St. Braddock, “‘Sup?”

His beard, how it bristled, streaked silver and red.

He had the longest fur cap ever seen on his head.

Hanging down past his knees, it swung with each stride.

“Where’s the eggnog?” he asked and, with that, stepped inside.

“Haven’t got any. Sorry,” I said, and he turned

With a gaze where confusion and pity both burned.

“No eggnog?” he said. “What the hell’s wrong with you?”

And he turned ‘round my home, taking all in his view.

“No Christmas tree either. No stockings. No lights.

No snowflakes. No candles. Dude, this can’t be right!

This place hasn’t got any cheer here inside;

But lucky for you, a spare tree's in my ride.”

I shrugged. “That’s ok. I’m not feeling it, really.

This year the whole Christmas thing just seems silly.

Come on -- talking snowmen or, what? Virgin birth?

We’re not kids anymore, so what’s all of that worth?

What’s the point now of Christmas?” And he nodded, quite sober,

Hearing my doubts and then mulling them over.

“I get what you’re saying, but you can't expect joy

To sit waiting for you to unwrap like some toy

Just given to you. That’s now in your hands.

Being merry or miserable is yours to command.”

“Easy for you,” I said with a smirk,

“With eight magic reindeer.” 

“Hey, don’t be a jerk!”

He said, “Yeah, I know. Sometimes this world sucks,

And we can’t fix it spending just a few bucks.

There's problems out there that may not have answers,

Like starvation, poverty, homelessness, cancer,

Bigotry, violence, and things so damn terrible

That experiencing them might make life unbearable.

“Celebrating Christmas doesn’t mean they’re not there,

Or that they don’t matter or that we don’t care.

It’s reminding ourselves of the stuff that is good

To help this world be a bit more like it should.

But Christmas,” he said, “Can’t just be left to me.

Now get off your butt and help put up this tree!”

As I watched his eight reindeer all poop in my yard,

I thought, maybe he’s right. I’m thinking too hard.

And I have to say, as we sat in the glow

Of the tree we put up and we hung with fake snow,

I felt in my chest a small glimmer arise,

The warmth of my heart grown to the right size.

“Guess my work here is done,” said St. Braddock the merry,

“But lots more out there need this message I carry.”

So, back to his Chevy he strode with a gleam

Of hope in his eye, and commanding his team

Once more to the heavens, he rose up in flight.

“Merry Christmas!” he cried, “Let's be awesome tonight!”

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