The Decapitated Santa

As we head into the New Year, I have to get something off my chest. I’m married to a woman who is all about decorating. If it doesn’t move, she’ll decorate it. If it does move, she still may decorate it. (If you visit us, make sure you keep breathing.)

Consequently, there are Christmas decorations all over our home. One such decoration is prominently displayed in our living room each yuletide season. It always hangs from the center of the fireplace mantle—front and center.

I don’t know. Maybe I’ve watched one too many episodes of Game of Thrones, but this decoration looks like the head of a decapitated Santa to me. There’s no blood on him, but he keeps looking at me with a face that says, “Why didn’t you stop this when you had the chance?”

“He’s right, of course.”

He’s right, of course. I didn’t do the dastardly deed myself, but I’m definitely an enabler. Each year, I carry the box containing the corpus delicti up from the basement and present it to my lovely Bride. Before I know it, our victory over Saint Nick is conspicuously flaunted once again. It’s not on a spike, mind you, but the violent overtones can be sensed as one walks through the room.

This cephalic symbol of the season of giving is rather oxymoronic as far as I’m concerned. We “take” Santa’s head, and (in its presence) “give” gifts to all our friends and loved ones. It’s an overused phrase (but in this instance, a highly appropriate one)—“Oh, the humanity!”

I’ve never brought this up to my spouse. I almost always leave the decorating up to her. Moreover, I just don’t feel the need to place myself in harm’s way over a long-dead head. It might not even be the real Santa, after all. It might simply be one of his “helpers” as they say. Still, it causes an uneasy feeling when I see my granddaughter staring at it.

So, hopefully, my wife won’t read this. I would also appreciate any of you readers keeping this to yourselves. I would hate this to get out. I hear the IRS audits people who keep nefarious heads lying around. We don’t need the authorities sniffing around our digs. I’m getting a bit too old to fight those battles anymore.

“I’m afraid to ask.”

To be perfectly honest, I’m not at all sure how Santa lost his head. I wasn’t around, and frankly, I’m afraid to ask. I just obediently carry the box upstairs in December and back down in January. Mum’s the word.

The whole thing puts me in mind of Herod’s stepdaughter, Salome. You know the one. She asked for John the Baptist’s head on a platter (Matthew 14:1-12). It wasn’t her idea–it was her mother’s. Even so, she did what her mother asked. Because of that, she’s the one we remember.

I can see it all now. “Yeah! Dave Zuchelli is the one who used to carry Santa’s head up and down the stairs each year.”

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently pastor of Smith Chapel in Great Falls, VA.]

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