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I'll never forget the day I walked up on those kids condescendingly calling that snowman by my name. I'd just left from giving the eulogy at a funeral for a young father who died of tuberculosis, leaving behind a wife and four small children. I didn't think my day could get any worse. I was wrong.
“Let’s pretend he is Parson Brown,” they said. “He’ll ask us if we’re married. What a creep! We’re just kids.” (I always ask if they’re married as a joke, like asking a four-year-old if he’s in college. I’m obviously kidding, but one mother hears you, and suddenly you’re labeled a perv.) Then they placed a tiny carrot below the charcoal buttons on the snowman and laughed hysterically. What’s worse, when they saw me, instead of feeling bad or running off, they just pointed and laughed even harder.
Now, I know I’m not the most attractive guy. I never have been. High school was hell for me. I’m pale and oddly-shaped—dumpy, even—but to build a snowman, and a sloppy one at that, just to name it after me is taking it too far. It’s not necessary. I would never have done that as a child, especially to a man of the cloth. There’s no respect in this world anymore. My father was a parson too, and he never had to deal with anything like this. And guess what? There are plenty of successful, happy, odd-looking people out there. You don’t hear people talking about Steve Buscemi or Larry Bird like that. I guess if I could act or play ball, it would be different. But no—I just pray and console the hurting and lonely and help the poor like some kind of loser.
By the way, thanks for bringing the meadow back up, too. I loved that meadow. It was my quiet place—the place where I would pray and reflect—but one day, someone noticed me out there eating my lunch and assumed I was watching the students at the girls' school next door and told my wife. That's when she left, so using that same meadow isn't just “hurtful.” It's in poor taste. What if, once a year, I brought up that thing that ruined your marriage? How would you like that? What if I wrote a Christmas carol about that time you had some drinks at your wife’s birthday party and got a little handsy with her younger sister? Not so fun now, is it?
Look, I know it’s Christmas, and everyone’s all cheery and jubilant and carefree, but some of us have pretty terrible memories about this time of year. I wish you people would think about that when you’re singing this mess. While we’re at it, let’s just stop with “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,” okay? That family is really hurting.
Joseph Thomas (@jtscatcat) lives in Savannah, Tennessee.