Popular Culture Review Vol. 28, No. 2, Summer 2017 - Page 15

As Zumwalt and other dignitaries look on helplessly, at the start of the most important shopping season of the year the imposter Santa Claus announces his real feelings about the Christmas holiday season: I think it’s time to have a grown-up Christmas…A Christmas where we can get to the bottom of things. Get to the bottom of what’s troubling this country so…I think of this nation of lonely people, of lonely alienated male assassins alone in their motel rooms, hamburger wrappings scattered about, empty ice cream cartons in with the rubbish, people alienated from the past, the future, nature, and one another. And how did we get that way, and what is wrong with us? We scream and kick and say no when we can’t get our way. We say no to the sick, no to the destitute. We say no to the millions of refugees now crowding our cities, tired, jobless, hungry, using garbage-can lids for pillows...Look at all of the people homeless, wandering the streets. Suppose one of them was Jesus Christ. Would you say no to Jesus Christ? Would you lock the door of the church and freeze the Lord out?…I say it’s time to pull [the] naughty people off their high chairs and get them to clean up their own shit. Let’s hit them where it hurts, ladies and gentlemen. In their pockets. Let’s stop buying their war toys, their teddy bears, their dolls, tractors, wagons, their video games, their trees. Trees belong in the forest. (95-97) Santa’s speech, broadcast live across the country, sparks a social and political crisis. His more radical supporters show their commitment by wearing white berets, Reed’s Neo-Hoodoo nod to the Black Panthers and Brown Berets of the 1960s. The novel draws heavily from the hagiography of St. Nicholas, a fourth-century Bishop of Asia Minor (Turkey) and patron saint of children, sailors, and young women. The legend of St. Nicholas is, of course, the basis for the modern myth of Santa Claus. According to the Catholic legend, St. Nicholas saved three young women from prostitution by providing them with dowries in the form of purses filled with gold ornaments. Hence, he became known as a bearer of gifts. Unlike Christ, St. Nicholas could fly; consequently, he also became known as miracle worker. As The Terrible Twos explains, St. Nicholas became a very popular saint in the Eastern church, where a cult developed around him. In the centuries after his death, this cult spread to England and other parts of Europe, where hundreds of churches were eventually dedicated to him. By the early medieval era, the St. Nicholas cult was universally embraced in Western Europe. But, as 10