Robin & Spring Visit the Community Christmas Tree Lighting

by Craig Hartranft on November 23, 2018

in Fiction, Humor & Satire

Anytown, USA

Christmas Tree“Look, Spring. Look how pretty the Christmas tree is,” her Mother, Robin, said pointing upwards and holding little sister Rosebud in her arm.

Spring raised her eyes to the enormous pine tree rising before the local bank. On this calm cold evening, the tree blinked with bulbs of many colors. Their shiny hues illuminated the many homemade ornaments that crisscrossed the evergreen’s limbs.

She sighed. “It’s just a tree, Mother.” She took her mother’s hand and squeezed. “We don’t even get a real tree at Christmas. Just one of those stupid fake ones. And Daddy didn’t even put it up yet.”

“He’ll get to it this weekend, dear, and besides using an artificial tree saves money and it’s good for the environment, too.”

Spring frowned, “Who explains that to the bank?  I guess they don’t care about the environment.”

Robin eyed her oldest warily, and just then baby Rosebud, snuggled in her left arm, started to stir and whimper. She left go of Spring’s hand to cuddle and hush the baby back to sleep.

“I’m sure the bank is doing many things to help the environment, but the tree is just special for today and our town.”

“What do they do?”

“Honey?”

“What do they do to help the trees and forest, Mommy?”

Robin frowned and thought. “I don’t know, offer paperless statements to customers, I guess. That’s one thing.”

Spring stamped her black patent leather shoes with the big buckles on the cold pavement to warm her feet.

“I know for a fact we still get stuff from the bank. Just the other day Daddy said some very bad words when he was looking at some papers from the bank.” She looked up at her. “And he works for the bank.”

Robin wondered what were the bad words he had said, and why he said them in front of their daughter. It was probably from all those drafts for organic foods at Whole Foods. Then she looked down at Spring, “We’ll talk about that later, honey.”

Loudly, a horn blasted, and again. Robin flinched, the gathered crowd turned in unison, and Spring bounced on her toes. “Oh look, Spring, here comes Santa Claus.” They both turned left towards another burst from an air horn. “He’s riding on a big fire engine.”

A large red fire truck, a tanker engine with a long ladder, was slowly rolling down Main Street to where a large town crowd had gathered for the Christmas tree lighting in front of the large white pillared bank. A large man in a gaudy red polyester Santa suit was waving to the people.

Spring said, “Why’s he riding on a fire engine? He’s supposed to have a sleigh and eight reindeer. Everybody knows that.”

“Well, this Santa is special; he gets to ride on a big fire truck.” Her Mother smiled at her, and hoping to lighten the conversation said, “Besides how would they get the reindeer to ride on the truck?”

Spring frowned once again, “Oh Mommy, they wouldn’t. That’s just stupid.”

As her face flushed with consternation, Robin simply stared at her.

Spring added, “What about all the other Santas, like the one at the Mall, or the creepy ones that ring bells at the grocery store? Do they get a fire trucks, too.”

“I don’t know, dear.” She paused. “You do ask I lot of questions.” Then Robin thought again. “Which creepy ones? What grocery store?”

“You know, the skinny ones with red noses and the gross smelling breath. You know, like how Grandpa Kinski smelled like Jack Daniels when he was at my birthday party last month.”

Robin gave her a worried look, thinking about her father-in-law. She’ll have to keep an eye on him at Christmas dinner this year. Maybe should could convince him to switch to her personal alcohol of choice, Grey Goose vodka: less odor, same buzz.

She said to her daughter, “Well, honey, we’ll try not visit those grocery stores.”

“But Mommy those stinky Santas are, like, everywhere.”

“Not to worry, Spring.” She turned and nodded towards the fire engine. “Look, Santa’s getting closer.”

The Santa truck was about to stop in front of the Christmas tree. The Santa-man waved at the gathered townsfolk. Unimpressed, Robin twisted her nose, and then gave it a scratch with the  pink mitten on her right hand.

“Mommy, Christmas is about Jesus. At least that’s what you and daddy always say.”

“It is, sweetheart. Of course,” Her mother quickly interjected.

“Then why are we here for Santa Claus? Shouldn’t there be baby Jesus with his mommy and daddy, Mary and Joseph, on the fire truck? And don’t tell me it’s because the shepherds and wise men couldn’t fit on the fire engine. That’s just dumb.”

Robin huffed, enough to shake baby Rosebud who thankfully stayed quiet. “Well, dear, unfortunately, not everybody likes Jesus. So the town and the bank welcome Santa at Christmas instead. Everybody loves Santa.”

Spring thought for a moment. “I don’t. Does Santa saves people from their sins?”

Another huff, and Robin returned, “Of course not. He brings presents. You know that. Santa’s here for all the children.”

“Really, Mommy? You and daddy give the presents, not some fat guy in a red suit. Everybody knows that too.”

Her Mother was beginning to wonder where her daughter got such a crass mouth, and how far this conversation was going to go this evening.

“Besides,” Spring added humming, “’Jesus loves all the little children; all the little children of the world …’ Right?”

“Yes. He does, Spring.”

“So why are we here if Christmas is for Santa, and not Jesus .” She glared at her Mother.

Robin rolled her eyes, but tried to answer anyway, changing the subject. “Because Daddy works for the bank and its good for him … for us … to be here. It shows he cares about the bank, you know, for giving him a job. He’s loyal to the bank.”

“Well, daddy should be loyal to Jesus. Besides, if the bank doesn’t care about Jesus, why should we care about the bank?”

Getting exasperated, Robin repeated, “Because Daddy works for the bank, dear …” and looking up add … “Besides they do include a Star Of David. You know, for Jesus.”

Spring considered the white yellow bulbs of the star upon the bank’s roof. She said, “Who knows what that symbolizes anymore, especially in our post-Christian, post-modern society.” She pointed at the people around her. “They probably think it’s simply a giant misplaced tree ornament, that’s all. Besides. It is old and crappy looking anyway.”

Her Mother said nothing.

“Maybe Daddy shouldn’t,” Spring said firmly.

“Shouldn’t what, honey?” Robin said.

“Maybe Daddy shouldn’t work for the bank.”

“What! Why?” Robin said raising her voice enough that those in front of her turned around.

“Nobody likes banks, Mommy. Everybody knows that. They take your money, give you so little in return, then charge you a lot of money to borrow your money back. Then they build big buildings with your money to prove that they have a right to have your money by showing you that they can keep it safe behind fancy stones, pillars, and facades.” She paused. “Nobody likes banks.”

Surprised again, especially at Spring using the word “façade,” her mother said, “Who told you that?”

“Everybody knows that, but it was Ms. Librelis who explained it to us.”

“Your school teacher?”

“Yes. She’s very smart, you know.”

“Really.”

“Yes. She says banks, especially unregulated banks, are bad for society.”

“Is that so?”

Spring added, “She said banks are like drug addicts …”

“What?”

“You know what Charles Munger said?”

“Who’s Charles Munger?”

“You know, from Berkshire Hathaway? He said, ‘I do not think you can trust bankers to control themselves. They are like heroin addicts.

“And John Rogers said, ‘Banks do not create money for the public good. They are businesses owned by private shareholders. Their purpose is to make a profit.’”

“Ms. Librelis told all you first graders this?”

“Like I said, mommy, she’s real smart,” answered Spring. “She also told us what English journalist Charles Moore said about banks, democracy, and global capitalism.”

“Oh. Global capitalism? Those are some big words. And what did he say, sweetie.” Her mother’s tone became condescending.

“Mr. Moore said, ‘The rich run a global system that allows them to accumulate capital and pay the lowest possible price for labor. The freedom that results applies only to them. The many simply have to work harder, in conditions that grow ever more insecure, to enrich the few. Democratic politics, which purports to enrich the many, is actually in the pocket of those bankers, media barons, and other moguls who run and own everything.’

“Okay, then. That’s really something.” Robin rolled her eyes and thought, I need to talk to her teacher … and to her father.

Spring ended with, “Daddy shouldn’t be working for a bank.”

Her mother heaved a deep labored sigh, and in that moment her husband Rich strolled up to his family. He kissed his wife on the cheek, baby Rosebud on the forehead, and lightly brushed Spring’s auburn hair.

Looking about the holiday scene, he said, “Isn’t this wonderful.” Then to his family, he said, “Everybody having a good time?”

His wife just stared. He shrugged, what, not knowing what she meant.

Spring said, “Daddy, you shouldn’t be working for a bank.”

“What?”

“And Christmas is about Jesus, not Santa.”

“Okay …”

Robin scowled.

Still uncomfortable, Rich said, “What?”

“It was your chromosome that did this.”

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