The Christmas War: A Saga of 2008
by Lane Chasek
My Uncle Bud lounges luxuriously on his broken recliner, cracking open his sixth beer of the hour. It’s 11:30 in the morning, he has frozen corn dogs in the oven, and he’s invited me to his trailer in Valentine, Nebraska, where he lives with his hunting dog, Jesse, and the pictures of his three ex-wives. This entire election cycle he’s been like a dynamo running on nothing but Fox News, race hatred, traditionalist Midwestern values, and beer so weak and cheap it makes Miller 64 look like Guinness (the real stuff from Ireland, not the kind that’s passed off to us chumps in the States).
I shift uncomfortably on the metal folding chair Uncle Bud has provided for me. The cold, dry air of December makes the metal feel colder than the surface of Mars. My ass and testicles are practically frozen now, but I have to do my job. Scratch that, my duty. I pull my notebook and chewed-up pencil from my carrier bag, ready to record my uncle’s story.
“Tell me about the Christmas War of 2008,” I say. “Were you afraid?”
Uncle Bud shifts in his recliner. Its springs and frame creak in mass protest against his 650-pound body. He manages to lean closer to me, so close that I can smell the stale beer and egg salad on his breath. He pulls his Make America Great Again hat down over his receding hairline.
“Let me tell you about that Christmas, boy,” Uncle Bud begins. I write furiously as his tale unwinds. I remind myself that this story is a treasure, a rare example of the great redneck oral tradition.
“It was winter, 2008,” Uncle Bud says. “Obamer had just been elected, the economy was on the verge of collapse, and I’d already bought fourteen guns to bury around the barbecue pit. My second wife, Mabel, had already left me, so it was just me and Jesse who had to brave that winter.
“Christmas was never going to be the same. I knew that for sure. I knew for a fact that Obamer and his pals were going to take our guns, make us adopt illegal aliens, and give our organs to charity. But Christmas was at stake, too. It started with people saying Happy Holidays in the 90s, but Obamer was going to take it one step further. By December, I knew Murica was on the verge of Armageddon.”
He pauses to wipe his forehead. Suddenly, the timer on the oven dings. He struggles to get up, somehow succeeds, then retrieves his dozen frankfurters covered in cornmeal mush skewered on wooden sticks. He dumps them on a plate and slathers them in canned chili and American cheese slices. Once he’s seated on his recliner again, he asks me if I’d like a corndog.
“I’ll be fine,” I say. I try not to mention the fact that I’m vegan. I don’t want any violence this holiday season. Well, at least not 2008-level violence.
“So there I was,” Uncle Bud continues. He pauses between most of his sentences now to scarf down his corn dogs. “I had my guns ready, my doors locked, my windows boarded shut, and all seven of my TV’s set to Rankin-Bass Christmas specials and Fox News. Comfy as fuck, I tell you what. Me and Jesse were huddled together watching The Year Without a Santa Claus when we heard caroling outside. Snow Miser was singing his song, but outside I could hear joyful, sinister voices. They were singing Christmas songs, but not the kinds of Christmas songs you or I know. They weren’t about the birth of Santa or the jolly little elves that Jesus led out of Iraq. These were politically correct songs.” He shudders. His forehead is covered in sweat. For a moment it looks like he won’t be able to finish his corn dogs he’s so distressed. But he’s a born storyteller. He continues to eat his corn dogs and tell this painful history, no matter how difficult it is.
“They were singing this terrible version of ‘Deck the Halls.’ It went:
We want Obamer to be king,
And Hillary will be our queen,
We all want free healthcare,
So give us your organs now.”
Uncle Bud points a naked corn dog stick at me. “You don’t know true despair until you hear a beloved Christmas classic being defiled by liberals,” he says. “I couldn’t stand it. So I unlatched my door, stood out in the middle of the falling snow, and started singing ‘Jingle Bells’ in protest. The carolers fell silent. Then I could see them coming for me. They were all dressed in black robes, just like the Grim Reaper on all those TV shows. And each of them wore a blue neck tie over their robes. The liberals were coming, and I had to fight to protect myself, my dog, my trailer, and my country.”
“Did you fire at them?” I ask.
“I threatened to. But you know how them liberals are. The mention of a gun sent them running. I thought I’d scared them off for good, so I went back inside and managed to catch the end of The Year Without a Santa Claus. I was in the middle of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer when I heard something scratching at my screen door. I looked over. It was one of those hooded liberals. The liberal continued to scratch, then tore through the mesh and tried to get inside.”
He stops. Maybe he’s trying to get me to ask what happened next, or maybe he’s just disappointed that he’s already out of corn dogs. “Fuck it,” I say to myself, and finally ask him what happened next.
“I stabbed that fucker through the heart with a candy cane,” he says. “That son of a bitch ran off faster than my first wife. I slept well that night, confident that I’d done my part to defend my country. Others weren’t so lucky. Hooded liberals everywhere, trying to preach against the Baby Santa, trying to get us to love and accept Obamer’s cronies. And the war still isn’t over. Tell me, when’s the last time you heard somebody wish you Merry Christmas?” He looks through the window to his right mournfully. The pale winter light makes his Make America Great Again hat look pink. This might be symbolic, but if Uncle Bud were reading this over my shoulder right now, he’d tell me I’m writing and thinking like a fucking pussy.
And maybe he’d be right. He’s seen more than me, heard more stories and watched more Adam Sandler movies than I have, and has been married to three women to my one. There’s a certain wisdom in this man, and it all comes from experience, beer, and willful ignorance. To truly understand this man, I’ll have to think like him.
“Could I have a beer?” I ask.
“Have four,” he says.
Lane Chasek is a freelance writer in Lincoln, Nebraska. His poetry and fiction have appeared in Laurus, Contrast, and Journey. He lives with his wife and spends most of his free time at Vietnamese grocery stores.