Santa God’s Mouth
The children of ‘finger pointing at the moon’ village were an excited lot. Historically they were nervous anyway because they always had a sense of expectation about themselves that had been encouraged by their parents, and their parent’s parents throughout time and space; to believe that one day in the future, at a time they would be uncertain of, a mystical hero would come from the skies to save all of humanity. From what they were unsure of. Themselves? The night? Anyway, once they were all saved, everybody in ‘finger moon’ village would be happy for the rest of their days.
To celebrate this ‘future coming’ another myth had been created, a kind of semi-myth in which the children had been told that once a year a Santa God would arrive and deliver gifts to all of the children as a kind of run up to the main event. This spiritual gift bearer flew through the skies on a sledge made from oak wood pulled by reindeer’s and would somehow magically deliver all the gifts that the children had requested, as long as their behavior had been exemplary throughout the year. This parable was similar to the main myth, just swap gifts for fish, reindeers for angels, and a chariot instead of a sledge.
So the dutiful children tried their best to be good throughout the year, which of course always put them on edge. It was this one particular year when a young girl called Emily was approaching her eight birthday that an unscrupulous older child told her something that shook her belief system to the ground.
‘There is no such thing as Santa God. It’s just your parents buying you gifts and putting the gifts under your bed while you are a sleep at night.’
Emily turned to Paul, who seemed a very rational and grounded fellow, and slapped him hard across the cheek. She then went home with Paul’s words whistling around her mind. She couldn’t believe what she had just been told. No Santa God? Parents who lie? This could not be. But as it was the last night before Christmas Day, Emily was about to put the theory to test.
‘Did you leave a carrot for the reindeer and some milk for Santa God?’
‘Yes Mummy,’ Said Emily, but deep down she was fuming, ‘milk and carrots my arse,’ she thought, ‘I know where that carrot will be going if I see either of those two lying scum suckers peep round my bedroom door tonight.’
She placed the milk and carrot beside the chimney as she had done every year since she had been born, but this time she felt like a prize chump.
‘Oh I hope you have been a good girl this year, otherwise Santa will not bring you any gifts. Have you been a good girl?’ Said her overbearing and somewhat dominant Father.
‘Yes Daddy you know I have. I mowed the lawn, cleaned the dishes each Sunday and washed your car till the hubcaps sang.’
Emily’s Mum tucked her into bed and kissed her on the cheek and said good night. Naturally Emily was unable to sleep and deep down in her heart she hoped that Paul was wrong. All her life she had believed wholeheartedly in the Santa God story. It underpinned how she acted as a person throughout the year and gave her faith in the world, knowing that however dark things got, there would always be Santa God to rely on, and his bright cheery presence. The idea that it was all some big joke made her feel rather sick.
To stop herself from falling asleep Emily stared at the moon’s reflection in her bedroom window. She marveled at how it appeared just like the real moon but was only a flickering image on the glass pane that was set into the splintered wooden window frame that was part of this run down house that was her home.
The door opened and Emily quickly spun round and pretended to be asleep. Her worse nightmare was about to come true as her parents tip toed into her bedroom like two thieves in reverse.
She watched them as they carried in the gifts and placed them at the feet of her bed. Her heart beat fast and loud, as she witnessed the greatest deception she had ever known. There was no Santa God. There would be no ‘coming’ not ever. Just as they were tip toeing out of the bed room Emily could contain herself no more, and threw the covers from her bed and jumped out onto the floor.
‘Mum. Dad. What the hell is going on here?’
Her parents froze on the spot. Guilty lollipops. Cheap ones of course. They didn’t know what to say. The Father tried his best.
‘Now remember what I said. A bad girl receives no gifts at Christmas.’
‘There is no Santa God.’ Said Emily forcefully towards her parents.
‘Now my little darling. We are Santa God’s helpers. Now just you go to sleep.’
But sleep was the last thing on Emily’s mind. She was awake.
‘There is no Santa God. And if you are his helpers then you should be tried for aiding and abetting a known felon.’ Her parents stepped back and this time her father became angry.
‘I’m sorry it had to be this way but it’s just a little game of imagination. It brings joy into our lives and it’s just a little lie. What’s the harm. Now get to bed.’
He shouted the last bit forcefully and Emily was reminded of her place as a child in this family, in this world, this Santa God-less world. She retreated to her bed while her parents retreated to theirs to discuss the ramifications of what had just occurred.
The next day at the breakfast table there was complete silence. You could say a thunderous silence but that’s a cliché, but then again the silence did feel heavy, and it was like thunder, so let’s stick with it. They all ate their breakfast in the clichéd silence. Emily got up and her father drove her to school. She didn’t give him a kiss good bye.
After Christmas Emily tried to focus on her studies but she was fuelled with hatred for the adults that were teaching her. If Santa God was a lie then how did she know that what they were teaching her was the truth?
The break time bell sounded and Emily decided to do something radical. She grabbed a soap box from the corner of the playground and stood on top of it.
‘All the children please gather around. I have something important to say.’
The children started to form around Emily. She then recalled the story of last night and told them all about the Santa God lie.
‘You’re lying. I got all the gifts I wanted this year, and the carrot and the milk were gone by the morning.’
‘That’s what they want you to believe. Your parents throw the carrot away and then they drink the milk.’
What about the gifts under the bed or in the living room? They just appear over night by magic.’
‘Your parents buy them. Just check for receipts in their wallets and you will see.’
Some of the children were becoming distressed and a few were in tears. They couldn’t believe what they were hearing. A teacher had spotted the crowd and came closer to inspect. Maybe she sensed rebellion in the air.
‘How do we know you are telling the truth?’
‘Go home. Look for the receipts. Confront your parents.’
During the day and the week word spread about the Santa God delusion. Hundreds and thousands of young children were confronting their parents about the great deception and then bursting into tears. Their parents tried to console them with the promise of more gifts, or that as an imaginary character, they could still play the Santa God game, but it was useless. The balloon was popped. The dream dead, and Emily still was still restless about the situation. That night she decided to speak to her parents, one on one.
The atmosphere was tense round the kitchen table. Emily was aware her parents had gone to great effort to ensure all her favorite foods had been made. Fish fingers, real chips from the chip shop and small proper peas. But Emily was not for turning.
‘Now about this Santa God thing. Tell me the whole story.’
Her parents seemed perplexed.
‘You know. Where does he come from? How does he get here? The whole enchilada, and don’t skip the beans.’
Emily had assumed the role of a film noire detective character and enjoyed grilling her parents.
‘and skip the patronizing intonation please.’
‘Well Sugar Plumps.’
‘ah ah ah I said skip it. Schmip it.’
‘Well you know. It’s pretty straightforward.’ Continued her Father, ‘Once a year Santa God delivers gifts to all the children of the world.’
‘Oh you know. The North Pole.’
‘Where exactly is the north pole?’ She quizzed heavily.
Her Father sheepishly looked at Emily’s Mother who seemed as sketchy as a mouse with its nose in the household cheese box.
‘I think It’s near Iceland, or is it Finland?’ said her Mother.
‘You mean you are not even sure?’
Well that’s the point of a myth. Everyone is really unsure about the facts but as long as a rough narrative is formed people are content, and usually don’t bother questioning the story.’
‘So what goes on at the North Pole?’
‘Well I suppose he lives there all year with his elves and the reindeers and they all help making the Christmas gifts.’
Alan looked away. The enormity and ridiculousness of the lie was now starting to bare down on his shoulders.
Emily too looked away. A tinge of regret about the story being over and yet a desire to not want to let go until she was sure there was absolutely no truth to the myth.
‘That’s really about it Emily. We are so sorry about this. It’s just how things are on this planet. Emily again felt a surge of anger. Strange thoughts and impulses were flying around in her head, strong surges and a desire to know the truth.
‘How can I ever trust you again after this tumultuous lie.’
Her parents shuffled nervously in their chairs.
‘In time things will heal.’
There was a painful pause while Emily contemplated her next action.
‘I want you to lend me your credit card.’
They both looked at each other.
‘I’ve decided to go to the North Pole and see for myself how much of this is a lie.’
‘Emily, of course there is nothing there. It’s just a myth.’
‘I know but when one wishes to verify the facts its best to go and check them out for yourself. Direct experience trumps hearsay every time. Wouldn’t you say?’
Alan handed over his credit card to Emily and she accepted it as a form of recompense. She got up from the table and went upstairs to plan her journey to the North Pole. A journey to seek the truth and end this farce once and for all.
Word had spread about Emily’s adventure around ‘finger moon’ village quicker than it took Emily to book the flights to Finland. Children were amazed at how brave she was at standing up to her parents and started to stand up to them themselves. They too demanded credit cards and financial recompense and had decided that they wanted to join Emily on the adventure to the North Pole. Within a week all the children of the village and had decided to go, and the shops had run out of thick wooly socks, duffel coats and maps to the North Pole.
Several buses had gathered at the central village car park and began loading the children onto the buses. The parents had gathered to see them off. They held back the tears and also held a strange kind of hope. They too had never forgotten about Santa God and even though they knew it to be highly unlikely wished deep down that the children would bring something back with them. Maybe a Santa God relic to allow their hope to cling onto during darker times.
The kids waved good bye to their parents with a little too much glee than their parents would have liked, but hey ho, who wants to hang around with people from the wrong scene anyway. The parents went back to the empty village to no doubt ponder on whether such a lie should be continued again. The kids turned round quickly and started to discuss with each other about what it is they would find out there in the North Pole. If anything at all.
Emily was sat at the front of the bus on her own. She had attained some kind of cult status. The other kids held her in a kind of reverence that she was not so happy with. She too had her hopes and fears and the last thing she needed was hundreds of children projecting their expectations onto her. If there truly was nothing then there would be a great disappointment followed by anger and shouting. The bus rolled on and Emily looked out into the darkness, wishing she was back home in bed, waiting for her parents to open that door. Wishing she had never lifted her head from under the duvet.
The plane journey ‘flew by’ as the kids boisterously played endless jokes on the airhost and airhostesses. Meals were consumed, fizzy drinks were drunk and much talk was in the air about what they would or wouldn’t find. Before they knew it the aircraft wheels were landing on Finnish soil and suitcases and duffel coats were being dragged through airport security.
The kids stood outside the airport with all their belongings. Everyone was looking towards Emily for guidance and leadership. Emily didn’t have a clue what to do next so decided to look as if she did have a clue and walked over to a security guard to ask a question.
‘Excuse me sir. Do you speak English?’
‘Ja. For sure. English I speak. ‘
‘We want to go to the North Pole.’
The security guard looked at Emily with a look of pity in his eyes.
‘You know there’s nothing there.’
‘I know but it’s nice to check things out for yourself.’
‘Well. Nobody goes to the North Pole anymore not since Neitzsche famously declared that Santa God was dead.’
‘Just some crazy old fool.’
‘But if you insist on going, there is an old North Pole bus that has been out of service for a few years. You can take that if you wish.’
The security guard took Emily round the corner to an old yellow school bus covered in dust. Cobwebs hung from the windows. Spiders waited. There was always a supply of gullible flys to land on their sticky webs. Emily looked at the front of the bus which was more rust than yellow, more dirt than clean. The license plate was covered in mud so she bent down to wipe it off.
L1L0L3A1TH It seemed to her to spell Lil Old Faith and that warmed her heart. Maybe a message from the Gods? All was not lost. With the help of the security guard they pulled the bus door open and went inside. Emily went to sit on the driver’s seat and played with the steering wheel. The security guard showed Emily how to work the pedals and the gear stick.
‘What’s that doing there?’ asked Emily.
In the middle of the bus was what appeared to be a stove which should really have been in a kitchen.
‘Oh. This bus runs on coal so you’ll have to fetch the coal from the back of the bus and keep it stocked up during the journey. It’s very cold in the North Pole so you’ll need a fire to keep you warm.’
All the children, luggage and chaos, boarded the fire-lit bus. Emily released the clutch, the bus lurched forward, and everybody felt the fluttering of wings in their stomachs as Emily placed her foot on the coal, and they all moved towards their final destination.
The only thing the kids had to look at out of the window was their own reflections, so they turned inwards and played games, told stories and then watched the yellow flickering lights from the stoves grate as the bus continued crunching along the road.
Emily didn’t know what she was supposed to be looking for. Occasionally she would see a sign for the North Pole this way or that way, but as far as she was concerned she just stuck to the tracks in the road in front. If the wheels followed the grooves then so did she. She then came across a sign that said ‘Santa God’s Mouth This Way’ and she quickly pulled the bus round to the right waking up the rest of the children on board. They caught sight of the sign as they passed it by and there was a collective swallow in the group. Another flutter, but this one more apprehensive.
After what seemed like aeons a small fiery dot appeared in the horizon and then came another, like two eyes. The other children came to the front of the bus to see what the lights were. As they drew closer, more lights started to appear like the black dots outlining a character from those well known dot to dot drawing books of all our yester years.
The dots started to form a shape of arms, legs and a rather large round belly. The figure was at least a hundred foot tall and again as they drew closer other colors started to fill in the space between the dots. A red suit, a black belt and a long white beard. It wasn’t at all what they were expecting to see. It was that well-known figure that adorned the lawn or roof of many a home in ‘finger moon’ village. Santa God. The children started to whoop and holler. Emily was keeping a lid on her excitement because behind it all was a sense of uncertainty. It all seemed too true.
Emily stopped the bus and the children ran off excitedly to see the great and true Santa God. He was in fact taller than they realized and waved his hands and legs around like a maniac escaping into the sky. From behind him came toy trains that appeared to be packed with gifts as they trundled along golden rail tracks, to be packed onto sleighs before being carried off by reindeers flying out into the sky, delivering gifts to the good children of this world.
The children ran after the trains trying to grab the gifts off the back of them. Emily stood peering into the eyes of the Great Santa God and she knew something was up. His smile was a bit too fixed. His continuous laughter far too mechanical and similar. She grabbed a bow and arrow gift from off the back of one of the trains and aimed it squarely at one of Santa’s eyes. The arrow flew straight into the eye and the sound of glass crushing was heard followed by a small explosion. The children stopped to look at what was happening and again she pulled out another arrow and aimed it squarely at the other eye, and again another flash, and boom. One of the kids started to rush towards her and grabbed the arrow from Emily.
‘You leave Santa God alone.’ He cried.
‘That’s not Santa God. It’s a fake.’
Again the booming laughter of ho ho ho was heard and then another kid came forward. The kid grabbed some bricks from off the back of a truck and threw one straight into Santa’s mouth. The laughing stopped and the game was up. Santa was a fake. The other kids joined in picking up toys and throwing it at the oversized Christmas decoration. His limbs, beard and head all came crashing down until all that was left was a broken pile of plastic, lights and clothing. The children stared at the broken machinery in dismay but Emily had noticed something in the distance, someone running away.
‘Hey. There’s someone who has been pulling our legs. Look, a man in the distance running away.’
Emily dashed off after the man with a gang of them in tow. The man appeared to be wearing no clothes except a shawl wrapped over his shoulders which was unusual for these parts. He was bold and skinny and very old as she could hear him puffing and panting and wheezing. It wasn’t too long before she caught up with him and then threw herself around his spindly legs. They both came crashing down in the snow with the other kids behind Emily. The old man scampered away and shielded himself from being hit.
‘Who the hell are you and why are you playing tricks on all of us.’
‘Yes, where is the real Santa God?’
Emily had to hold back the other kids from tearing the man apart such was there disappointment. And then the old man spoke and his voice felt so smooth and warming that it melted the hearts and minds of all the children standing around him.
‘I am so sorry to disappoint you. I never meant to harm you. Of course there is no Santa God but he seemed ideal for where you were at in your life. A little hope never hurt anyone.’
‘So then. This is it. There really is no Santa God.’ Said Emily.
And the old man flicked a mischievous grin.
‘Well there is something, but it’s not what you think it is. It’s what I call Santa God’s Mouth.
‘Santa God’s Mouth. What on earth is that?’
Com with me you’ll see. It’s a fifteen minute walk in that direction.
The old man started to walk in that direction and the children followed like Israelites being led out of Egypt and into the desert. As they waked through the snow they started to hear a sound like a rushing waterfall. They peered ahead into the distance but it was impossible to see as it was too dark. The sound of water falling became monstrously loud so one’s mind could only imagine a very large gorge or drop from which the water fell, and they were right. They started to see a wall of falling water in the distance several miles wide. So wide it stretched beyond their panoramic vision. Its white foam flecks darting in and out like salmon returning up a stream.
The old man stopped at the edge of the some-thing and turned to look at the children and Emily, who by now had slowed down her pace, unsure if they really wanted to witness Santa God’s Mouth. Slowly they walked towards the edge of the precipice. With the aid of the full moon’s light they looked up as high as they could to see the top of the cliff from which the waterfall tumbled and fell downwards and could just about discern the raggedy edges of the cliff’s edge which indeed did make it look like a mouth. As they came to the edge of the precipice that too was curved inwards and as they peeped over the edge all they could see were the white sprays and drops of waters falling endlessly into the deep abyss. Everybody stepped back for a second to allow their fear to subside before going back again.
Emily noticed the old man staring into the vastness like a child looking at a loving Mother. She went up to him and touched him.
‘What is this place?’
‘This is where it all ends and this is where it all begins. The Alpha and the Omega.’
‘Santa God’s Mouth.’
All the children stared in awe at the mighty beauty that lay before them. As they peered closer into the waterfall they could see apparitions of new born babies tumbling into the abyss as if they were on their way to being born, human beings too, as if they had just come from death. They could see the shapes of letters from all the languages of the world and some from other worlds too. Even ideas were being born somewhere deep in the roar of the falling water.
‘It’s time to go now children. Time to return back to the village from where you came.’
The old man led them back to the bus and Emily sat again in the driver’s seat, the clutch in her hand. Emily released the clutch and drove the bus back home to the airport. They sat in silence. They flew in silence. And when they got home to finger moon village their parent knew that something had changed. The silence they carried with them contained a certain authority a kind of confidence that made a difference. Things changed from that day on.
The residents changed the name of their village to ‘Full Moon Shining’. Instead of waiting for gifts to be brought once a year by some mysterious man in the sky they all gathered in the village field and lit a fire in celebration of the Great Santa God’s Mouth. Food was shared, drinks were drunk and people danced and played in celebration of the mysteriousness of existence and beyond.
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