* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where Santa is more real than a hangover, or a criminal record. This week Greg Schreur shows what happens when St. Nick learns a certain young man is more naughty than nice,

Santa’s Letter To Smith, #985476

By: Greg Schreur

Smith, #985476

Parnall Correctional Facility

Jackson, MI 49201

Dear Jeffrey,

I hope you still go by Jeffrey, anyways. I know that some guys in prison take nicknames that make them seem tough, and Jeffrey doesn’t sound all that intimidating. I suppose if I were ever locked up, I wouldn’t be able to go by Santa or St. Nick without quickly catching the eye of some chubby-chaser.

This must be strange, getting a letter from me, and maybe you don’t want to hear from me, maybe you still won’t even believe that I exist, even with this letter in hand. Maybe life has long beaten simple, naïve hope out of you, and believing in Santa is just not a luxury you can afford. I doubt there’s much in your life right now heralding the magic of Christmas, not when you’re tightly gripping the soap in the shower or taking a dump right there in front of everybody.

Still, I am writing on the off chance there is still some remnant of that little boy — the one who wrote me a letter asking for a Buzz Lightyear Arm Blaster nearly twenty years ago — sitting in your cell with you.

You see, I feel a little responsible for your being locked up. Had I nudged your name from the Naughty List onto the Nice List, you would have unwrapped your present that Christmas morning and spent the rest of the day and the weeks to come Arm Blasting imaginary villains as well as that little prick Nathan Myers who lived next door to you. And I doubt either of us would be surprised if you’d Arm Blasted your dad a few times, albeit secretively from behind the couch.

If you’d had an Arm Blaster to unwrap that morning, you wouldn’t have tucked one into your coat later that week at the store with your parents, and the store manager wouldn’t have stopped you at the door when you’d tried sneaking out ahead of your parents. And your dad wouldn’t have let them call the police and take you to juvenile detention instead of taking you home and imparting the kind of fatherly wisdom that helps kids avoid a lifetime of criminal activity.

When I saw that sad, prepubescent mug shot (yes, Santa can get his hands on juvenile records), I felt like an opportunity had passed. Of course, in some ways it had. By next Christmas, let’s face it, you were pretty rotten. I know all about the cat and your dad’s toothbrush.

I’d like to explain myself, and why you didn’t get a present that Christmas. People are just plain confused about me. I mean, really, if anyone wants to prove my existence, all they have to do is come to the North Pole and see. My name is right on the mailbox. And all that he sees you when you’re sleeping stuff (really creepy when you think about it) is not true.

As for he knows when you’ve been bad or good, that’s harder to explain. Like most things, even those that are true, it’s not that simple.

The truth is, I have my ways of finding out if someone’s been bad, but it’s not like I know every secret deed or dirty thought. I read the newspapers (so Casey Anthony and Vladimir Putin won’t be getting visits this year). I monitor YouTube (Hey! Stupid kids! If you want to avoid the Naughty List, stop posting videos of yourselves shooting people with paintball guns and beating up the school’s LGBT suspects!). I also get school reports.

In your case, I’m afraid, it really came down to Nathan Myer’s letter. Granted, your school reports were pretty suspect, but it was Nathan’s claim that you taught him three bad words and showed him how to light farts on fire that put you over the edge. I always wondered why he put those things in his letter, but now that he’s become some hotshot lobbyist in D.C., I have my doubts about the whole thing.

I admit, it’s an imperfect system, one I’m afraid that rewards the sneaky and sometimes makes unnecessary targets of kids like you. But just listen to these screw-ups: Ted Kaczynski got a really nice erector set for his tenth Christmas, and Jeffrey Dahmer got an Easy Bake Oven one year! Ugh! I did think the Easy Bake Oven was an odd wish, but whether or not playing with girly toys causes boys to become flamboyant homosexuals is for insecure fathers to worry about, not Santa. And little Teddy wrote such fascinating letters!

Anyways, the elves don’t make the Arm Blasters anymore. They actually don’t make any toys. Those jobs have all been outsourced, and many of the elves have left and are trying to get their own show on The Learning Channel.

I did, however, pick one up on eBay. Unfortunately, for reasons I’m sure are obvious, I can’t send it to you now. It’s yours, though, if you can get yourself out on good behavior. Maybe it’s a stupid gesture anyways, or worse, rubbing salt in deep wounds.

Remember, though, Jeffrey. I can’t work miracles. I’m not in the business of salvation. I’m just a jolly old man who hands outs toys.


Santa Claus


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where every day is like Christmas. Or, at least, like a nonsectarian and nonspecific office holiday party. And what are they serving at this vague, dreamlike event? Hari Raghavan knows.

Office Pizza Party

By: Hari Raghavan

Who’s hungry for some pizza? I could sure use some! Bread, sauce, cheese and farm meats…It comes in a box. Usually one that’s brown with fat red cursive painted on it, and after we’re done eating we toss it and wait for the next shipment of delicious round savory pies. Better scrape off all that cold residual cardboard cheese! Or else a big fat rat might appear and infest our cubicles with hungry, aggressive rat babies. Mice.

Pizza is Italian but it’s also American. I’ve heard people say that it’s made differently here in America versus how they do it over in Italy. Who cares! My husband is part Italian, but he can’t even eat pizza because he’s allergic to yeast and lactose. More for me and more for you, too, because today we’re getting some more pizza. Yup, I already placed the order and they said it should be here, scalding hot and bulging with blood red sauce in less than 20 minutes. My husband is eating vending machine candy or Ritz crackers with Nutella today like every day, because he’s legally blind and can’t pack his own lunch, and I refuse to pack it for him because he refuses to enjoy pizza with me!

Are you ready for some pizza? It’s coming real soon. Did you get your fork from the kitchen and a hard plastic plate? Or do you prefer, like I do, to use two hands and a paper towel? You place your triangles on the sheet, you walk them over to your desk, you scarf it all down, you lick up the grease till you can’t take it anymore and say what the hell I’m just going to ingest this wet, heavy, fat-infused Bounty paper too. And why not? It’s pizza-related, so it tastes really great, and you can always get more towels from the spindle above the sink.

Wow, are you getting impatient and hungrier than ever? I am. I’m getting kind of angry, too. It’s nearing the 18-minute mark and the delivery agents aren’t answering my calls. Do they have bigger orders to fill? Are we no longer an important client to them? Should I have ordered 100 more pizza pies? Who knows! What I do know is I’m hungry, and the people I work with and really care about are hungry too, and I really don’t like it when people stand me up and make me beg for something that’s rightfully mine. The more and more I think about it, it doesn’t look like we’re getting what’s ours, and I think that is completely unfair and it makes me sick to my stomach that this can happen to us in America or Italy or wherever we are right now.

Can you make pepperoni out of rat meat? Aren’t they just tiny pigs? And pigs make pepperoni, so why not rats or mice. Is Jennifer around, or is she still on maternity? I wonder if she’s producing enough dairy to share some with us. We could turn it into cheese. Maybe not mozzarella, but something similar, like milky ricotta. I bet at least some of you idiots brought a sandwich to work today, didn’t you, even though I told you yesterday that we’d be having pizza again. Oh well, looks like you’re in luck and we’re in business because now we can glue all those bread slices together and create the base for our pie. Go get them. No wait — we’ll toast them first and then glue them together. Someone plug in the toaster.

And someone bring me a knife for the sauce. Oh wait never mind, there’s one right here on my desk. It’s a big, sharp, butcher’s-style knife, and it’s going to go downstairs right now and find us some sauce. Or maybe it can’t wait to go downstairs. Maybe it’ll just have to look for some sauce around here instead. Who’s hungry for some pizza? I am. I could sure use some.