Wednesday, December 11, 2013

angel of death

I'm not sure where it originally came from, but once upon a time somebody decided to roll snowballs around their yard and make giant snowy human figures out of it. Today, we continue the tradition by making a snowman, putting crap from our kitchen all over it, and then watching it slowly die. It's not a Christmas tradition, per se, but so many of our holiday favorites revolve around snowmen. Particularly snowmen who "come to life." My disdain for Frosty the Snowman is widely known, but there are countless other examples, including Dianne Jackson's charming "The Snowman" animated short from 1982. They all follow a similar pattern: child builds snowman, child really believes, snowman comes to life!

I can understand how this might be a fantasy for a child, since children have little control over their lives and they seek opportunities to create something that takes on a life of its own without any input or administration from parents or adults. I get it. You're going to make that snowman, you're going to put crap from your kitchen on it, and late at night when nobody is watching, it's going to sparkle, come to life, and dance around with you.

But let's pretend you made a snowman as an adult. You spent all day in the front yard pushing around balls of snow. They get heavier and more cumbersome with each push. Eventually you hit strips of grass, and your snowball now has mud, leaves and shards of grass all over it. I know you know what I'm talking about. And your front yard is no longer placid and snowy, but trampled like a war zone and skinned of white. It's a muddy, barren field of dreams with a giant plop of snow concentrated somewhere centrally. No worries! It's going to snow again and your snowman scene will look just like it does on movies and TV! Everything white, everything smooth, and everything untouched - as if by an angel. But it doesn't snow again.

You search your kitchen for a carrot, but who has full-size carrots anymore? You search your closets for that shiny black top hat, but golly where is it? You head into the coal chute to grab some lumps of coal, but that's right nobody has a coal chute. And don't forget that corncob pipe! Where did that go? Under the sofa cushions? No? So you find some crap from your kitchen and make a face and some buttons, and then you put your own personal scarf on it, and boy will you regret that.

Anyway, you are pleased with your snowman. It was a lot of work! Meanwhile, your friends are reading the scriptures and feeding the homeless, but whatever. You are proud of your snowman and proud that you spent an entire Saturday doing it.

That night you can't sleep. "What does my snowman look like at night?" you wonder. What if you were just to creep quietly downstairs and look out the living room windows? Why not? Who's it gonna hurt?

So you do. You peek through the draperies and there he is: stolid and pure, ethereal in the moonlight. Somehow he almost looks like snowmen do in children's books...if only he weren't so lumpy and...and...wait....what's happening? He's beginning to sparkle, and you hear the tinkling of bells. What is this? Holy crap - is he turning at the waist? Are you still asleep? You rub your eyes - that always works. But no, you aren't imagining anything! That snowman is alive. He's turning toward you and -oh my gosh- his stick arms seem to be reaching for you! The pointy tendrils are curling and unfurling toward you, as if he wants to take you in his arms. And then, can it be? Those quarters you used for eyes seem to be blinking. No, winking! He's winking! How is this happening? You feel a cold sense of dread, but you can't move. You are willing your body to move - but it won't! And then, just then, you hear a low pitched shuffling sound, like the tearing of the densest fabric and it hits you: he's moving. He has no legs, but somehow he is pushing his awkward torso towards you. He's literally beginning to blunder across the lawn in short, labored efforts. Why did you use that banana for a mouth? It's pure evil! The banana falls off. Now, a giant mute ice creature is lurching toward you, crackling stick arms reaching and cherry tomato buttons busting and dropping with each terrifying stagger. By now you are crying. You are crying because death approaches. And you've tried to be a good person, but it doesn't matter now. You built your own death.

Anyway, I'll let the rest of that scenario play out in your mind. You can choose your own adventure. Merry Christmas! But doesn't this make you think of building snowmen in a much more realistic way? Don't read this to your kids.

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