When it gets close, everyone hates Christmas. But they hate for such boring reasons. Imagine a better world, with better reasons to hate holidays. Like the world in which a random shopper exits a random department store and tries to ignore the bell-ringer, like most people in most worlds do. But in this world the bell-ringer beseeches the random shopper, “You better give. Santa’ll know if you don’t.”
And the shopper adjusts his bloated bag of discounted turtlenecks and says, “Yeah. Hate to get shorted on presents.”
“Presents?" the bell-ringer replies, "He gives thrashings. You behave your ass this time of year.”
“Santa Claus gives what?”
“Justice. He knows who’s naughty and who’s nice, and he systematically assaults the former on Christmas Eve. Anyone dumb enough to be drunk in public, or yell at his wife near the car, or who’s just been a jerk in December is at risk. He gets around. He has eyes.”
You can already see why this is a better world, but the shopper is nonplussed. He says, “That’s not Santa Claus; that's the NSA. Santa Claus gives gifts to good children.”
“What, the livers and kidneys for sick kids? It’s nice of him, sure, but he harvests those from the bastards he hunts down.”
"Look, what is your deal? Is this a hard sell for charity? Because it's gross."
"I'm just trying to warn you about the hazards of Santa Claus."
"He's not even real. Goodbye."
"Whoa, whoa." And the bell-ringer steps away from the man and his own kettle as though wanting to dodge any flying reindeer crap that might hurtle their way. "You did not just deny Santa."
Instead of leaving, the shopper cocks an eye at the bell-ringer. He says, "What? Are you four?”
“It’s not my fault when he cuts out your adrenal glands.”
Now it's the shopper's turn to step away. “What?”
At this time the random shopper's random friend arrives. Her name is Jane, which we can tell because our random shopper greets her as such. “Jane," our original bell-ringer calls. "This Santa Claus. What is the story of Santa Claus?”
Jane looks between the shopper and bell-ringer, then says, “He has magic reindeer, flies around in the night, and when our kids doze off looking out the window we leave presents with his name on them. Lives in the North Pole. Hot chocolate. Mrs. Claus. What?”
The bell-ringer shakes his bell at her. “Magic reindeer? You people are insane.”
The random shopper says, “You think he maims random sinners.”
But because this is a better world, Jane turns on her friend. “I’m sorry, have we not seen The Dark Knight twelve times? Suddenly a costumed vigilante is implausible to us?”
The random shopper is immediately exasperated, “Santa Claus is not the same as Batman.”
“Why, because he’s not American? And he has elves. They’re like Alfred.”
The bell-ringer disagrees, “Elves? You people are insane. Santa Claus is an enforcer of the social contract.”
Our random shopper exclaims, “He’s not real!”
It's at this point that the bell-ringer decks our random shopper. Just as quickly, he raises his arms to the sky and waves off unseen magical forces, all the while chastising the shopper, “That was for your own good. You can’t go denying Santa that loud in public. He’ll hear you.”
Jane takes this in more stride than she would in a realistic world. She eyes the bell-ringer and says, “You just struck a man. That's naughty.”
The bell-ringer goes stark pale. “Dear Christ. Santa’ll kill me.” He clutches at himself, particularly at his midsection. “I need my kidneys.”
Before our random shopper can get up, the bell-ringer abandons his kettle and runs for safety. To where? To a better world.