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Oh Happy fucking Christmas Santa

Suzy Bell

writes a weekly column for the Tuesday Review supplement of The Cape Times. She is currently doing her MA in Creative Writing at UCT with supervisor Andrť Brink, and is working on her first novel, Paradise Valley, and a collection of short stories.
  Suzy Bell

Dear Santa, uTata weKweekrisimesi,

You know I've never been much of a Christmas girl. And it's not because my grandmother died on Christmas day. I don't blame you as I know that's not your department. Even though I tried to explain this to my dad. Since it happened when he was 14 he never really liked you at all.

I must say nothing personal, but your concept of Christmas sucks. I guess I'm sick of the jolly Ho-Ho wafer-thin Boney M promises, the fact that you only ever wear Stop-sign red, and that you're not cool enough to break down and let me give you that tattoo of Lapland on your butt. And why is it that you always make Christmas feel like such an English thing? Like snow in England, Bishops and Cathedrals, Guinness and steaming Xmas pud? Ever tried to buy a Zulu Christmas card for your maid at Clicks? Christmas - it doesn't feel very African.

I don't remember one satisfying Christmas. We were usually broke at Christmas. But there was one Xmas when I decided to take charge. I was 14 and yearning to cheer my dad back into some Christmas spirit, and more selfishly to buy my first yellow Lamont surfboard, the one with the red lightning bolt running down the middle of my surfer grommet's desires.

My first job was as a Christmas fairy. Turned out to be my first reference too when I later applied for my first real job - in a bank. The reference I clutched in a plastic CNA pink folder remained unread on my lap: "Susan-Jane is a hard worker. She is reliable and popular with her fellow workers. A cheerful individual with a bohemian attitude to life that with maturity could develop into a more balanced individual." Signed Father Xmas. I got the job. But not the balance. Thanks for that. You know when I told the bank manager the only reference I had was from Father Xmas he sniggered, thinking I had a wicked sense of humour. That same reference also got me into journalism. Which is not very funny if you really want to be a writer, but you're stupid enough to think working in a shitty newsroom is the next best thing.

I worked in the toy department for a Father Christmas who told me on my first day he hated being Father Christmas and he sure as hell didn't dig girls. Nice one, Santa. To escape the Beast of Santa Claws, I sneaked to The Royal Hotel in my lunch-break, you know that hotel we've been to, the one just across from St Francis Farewell Square - home to hoboes and 24 hour non-stop shitting pigeons. I hung out on the 21st floor by the pool, imagining catching a left at The Wedge. Oh yah, did I tell you I got skin cancer last Christmas? Sunblock doesn't fucking work.

So there I was in charge of distributing your lucky packets. I was paid R14 a day. I worked on Saturdays and school holidays at the Hub in Smith Street in my hometown, Durban. It was my holiday job for three summers. I wasn't the greatest Christmas fairy as I never did ballet so I didn't have that ballet walk, that upright, uptight balletique grace, or those lily-white chopstick arms. And I refused to wear my sun-bleached hair in a ballet bun. I had to pose with Father Xmas for every portrait. I hated that. That's where I learnt to smile like a fool whose ship never comes in. There's a picture of me with Father Xmas and a three-month-old baby. Look closer and you'll see white foamy liquid gushing down my satin bodice trickling down onto my 14-year-old bosoms. Yeah, the baby puked as the picture was taken. I'm wearing my fucked-off strained, barely there smile. A picture of expectant misery. Pahrumpa Pum-Pum, Happy fucking Christmas. It was the Christmas card that never goes out, but should. I still wear that same strained smile at Christmas because as I said I don't remember one full-on satisfying Christmas. I can't even remember my worst Christmas. I called my mum and asked her if she perhaps remembered one. "No, you remember we were always broke. But we always had eggs at Easter." Easter is my Christmas then. Four months late.

I've never written to you before because you know exactly where to find me. But this year is the first year I'm letting you know that I'm not spending Christmas with my family. Why? Because I don't want to fight with my mum on why I don't want to move back to Durban. So I'm going to Rio instead. I'll send you my hotel address. My mum has now decided she is going to London and my brother is off to Dubai. You see this year is the first year we have all been honest about how we feel about Christmas. There is nothing happy about it unless you are a child. And even then it's not always the Marilyn Manson wet-dream of your alternative desires.

So Santa, what do you want this year for Christmas? Hot sex? You know thrashing against the wall sex then me bending over the Defy stove for more kitchen sex? I can order you a really slow build up, a few hours foreplay while drinking frozen Margaritas in between Tantric cool-downs with break time reading a short story by Ivan Vladislavic. You'll need a new outfit then. Rubber? Black and yellow? Don't worry I'll style you for sure. Even dip your snow-white beard into a pot of black paint. Or give you a number one or an Afro-down cut. The only red on you will be the red nail polish I paint on your fingers and your toes and some bloodied body scratch marks - if you've been a good boy. When you come down that chimney I'm going to be waiting for you, frozen Margarita in one hand, 'cuffs in the other. Yeah don't fret, I'll be wearing my same Christmas Fairy outfit again this year. Gotta keep something traditional to keep us sane. Oh Happy fucking Christmas Santa. Pahrumpa pum-pum, we're gonna have some insane fun this Christmas. Pahrumpa pum-pum.

The Christmas Fairy

LitNet: 15 December 2004

boontoe / to the top

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