How a mute neighbor girl taught me to fight Christmas cheer

When my father showed up a few days after Christmas, he was very tanned and jolly, despite his long, stressful days of networking on the beach. When I told him about Olive and how she opened my eyes to the insidious nature of my beloved holiday, he shrugged and said, “Her parents are liberal arts professors; go figure.” He then gave me a thick wad of cash, feeling guilty, I suppose, about having left me to fend for myself on Christmas Day. I remember looking at the money and for the first time, sensing it belonged to neither me nor my father. Olive, I thought, would know what to do with it.

In fact, I cooked up a plan to sneak the money to her, but before I had the chance, Olive and her academic parents moved, without even so much as a goodbye to me and my parents. The only thing they left were the dozens of hand-written invitations my mother had given them, as well as an entire year’s worth of newspapers they had stolen from us.

20 years have passed since that day Olive miraculously spoke to me, but whenever the holiday season rolls around, I still think of her. In my dreams, she went on to law school, joined the ACLU, and is bravely fighting to get rid of Christmas as a public holiday. Maybe she’s even travelling across the country she so despised, suing town after town into bankruptcy to remove religious displays and symbols from public property. In my fantasies, Olive is still mute, mouthing big words I scarcely understand.

And if she ever ventured back to “Chateau Gaudy” to find me, I will never know. My parents and I moved in March of that year, with creditors and my father’s former business associates nipping at our tails.

Olive’s generous lecture taught me more in 10 minutes than I ever learned by watching Christmas movies. This is the lesson: we must be more considerate toward people who are offended by the the very idea of Christmas. No matter how much warmth we think our happiness might radiate, we need to keep in mind others can find our good spirits very obnoxious. We should therefore labor to keep any happy Christmas thoughts or feelings to ourselves.

If you do find yourself smiling whereas others are scowling, don’t just stand there like an idiot delighted by his own ignorance. Act! I have several ways of dealing with holiday cheer. I force myself to go shopping at the most crowded stores at the worst times. I read anything I can get my hands on about what a bunch of rotten scoundrels we Americans are. Sometimes I even start smoking, just to get addicted so I can quit and feel like a real wretch. There must be countless other ways to make yourself miserable. Be creative.

Thank you for reading The Dandy Goat and I remain your humble servant,

Franklin J. Dubbles

-Letter no. 4

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