Ho ho howdy folkses! Welcome to the Seventh Day of The Twelve Days of Shitmas celebration for 2021! Our last offering was something of a snooze-fest, starring an orange, puffy-faced puppet who seemed perpetually to be suffering an angioedemic allergic reaction to something he ate. Today we bring you something that might have only been something we ate rather than something we actually watched. It's hard sometimes to separate the fantasy from the reality when you cram as much shit into Shitmas as we do each year. All we know is there was a dog involved and Kris Kringle was there, too. And that an elf in blackface or did ergot fungus get mixed into our Christmas porridge? Please tell me it was ergot in the porridge.

Bark if you love Shitmas!

We're posting a brand-new review of a Christmas special every other day beginning December 3rd, culminating in what we consider the worst of the bunch on Christmas morning. If you haven't noticed our Secret Santa sneaky link feature by now you're just not paying attention. It's not the kind of sneaky link where you love your girlfriend and the sex is great, but every now and again you get a little craving only another man's touch can satisfy, so you hop on Grindr and look up your go-to buddy OrlBtmBae4U, and arrange to meet for a little car fun right off route 55 in the fallow cornfield near the old water tower. No, it's actually just a sneaky link hidden in one of the screenshots, leading to an odd, scary or NSFW depiction of Santa Claus we may or may not have found pasted on a men's room stall at a gay fetish club in Duesseldorf. No judgement, please. They were just gonna scrape it off and repaint the door anyway.

When I was a precocious young scamp of five or six, I remember seeing commercials for a movie called Benji (1974) which featured an adorably scruffy stray mutt getting into all sorts of scrapes and hijinks, eventually foiling a kidnapping plot and finding himself both an AKC-registered Maltese girlfriend and a fur-ever home. I never saw the movie (still haven't, probably never will), but I vividly remember the TV ads, billboards and quarter-page newspaper spreads shilling the thing. You couldn't miss them. They were everywhere.

Looks heartwarming, no?

It was an independent production written and directed by Joe Camp, and was initially self-distributed. It earned a staggering $45 million dollars against a $500,000 budget, making it one of the most profitable films of the decade. Three sequels and a 2018 remake followed, along with cameo appearances, three short television specials, of which Benji's Very Own Christmas Story was the first, and a Hanna-Barbera Saturday morning kid's program I'd never heard of called Benji, Zax and the Alien Prince (1983).

I'm not sure how I missed this gem.

With that pedigree of success behind it Benji's Own Christmas Story would seem like a sure-fire winner, and I am absolutely certain there are undiscerning, easily entertained people who love it to bits and think it's just the cutest thing they ever did see, but it left me feeling bewildered and exhausted, wondering exactly what the hell I had just seen and why anyone should want me to see it. It's an equilibrium-shaking phantasmagoria of disconcerting imagery, hokey dialog, wooden acting and one wildly misplaced musical production number that seems to have been left over from an early draft of the script that was otherwise completely abandoned.

Oh, and then there's the elves. Dear God, please let me forget those fucking elves, and I pinky-swear promise I will never ever sin again.

We open on the snowy streets of a rustic ski resort town in Switzerland, abuzz with preparations for their annual Christmas parade. A voiceover from Cindy Smith, one of the stars of the Benji series tells us "One of the best things about making movies with Benji is going on personal appearance tours afterwards!" Okay, I assumed this was to be a story set within the fictional world of the Benji movies, but apparently we've bow-wowed to the reality that Benji is not a heroic savior of kidnapped children, but just a trained animal who does what he's told to do on camera for a "whosagooboy" and a biscuit. I can work with that , I suppose, but it seems to me like it'd be a huge disappointment to any young fans who came in fully invested in the fantasy of the films to be suddenly yanked out of their comfortable, innocent delusions. That's a pretty hard lesson straight off the bat, but the alleged truth this special presents, we shall soon learn, is far stranger than the fiction.

We're told that Benji is the honored guest and Grand Marshall of the parade, and is to travel in considerable style, pulled in a gleaming red sleigh by none other than Kris Kringle himself, who pulls up in front of a quaint little inn and asks for "the Benji party." Soon our erstwhile movie star guests Cindy Smith and Patsy Garrett appear, ostensibly playing themselves, or some skewed, scripted version of themselves, and carrying the remarkably sedate Benji, who spends most of the special limp and inert in the arms of one or the other of these two human companions. Several characters during the course of the special even comment on how agreeably passive he is, making me wonder if someone maybe slipped some doggy downers into his chunky, meaty bites.

Check to see if his eyes are dilated.

Young Cindy looks at Kringle's forest green robes and bishop's hat and asks if he's a priest. He explains that no, he's just plain old Kris Kringle, the O.G. Father Christmas. She remarks that gall dang-it, he sure don't look like no Texan Santy Claws to her, dang-on, dang-on, but he explains that he's what Santa Claus looks like in Germany, or at least what Santa Claus used to look like in Germany back in the olden times, "But there is a movement to bring me back exactly as you see me now!"

She rudely questions why he has a British accent if he's supposed to be German, and he patiently explains that as Kringle, Santa Claus and St. Nicholas inclusively he must endeavor to be everything to everyone. I personally wonder why he's dressed as German Kringle when in the German-speaking parts of Switzerland he's called Samichlaus and traditionally dresses in red, or for that matter where his sinister pal Schmutzli is hiding...but I would never be so impertinent as to ask.

Much like the Wu-Tang Clan, Samichlaus & Schmutzli ain't nothin' to fuck with.

I must say if these two really are playing themselves then God help us, because they're thick as pig shit and the very essence of big, dumb 'Muricans abroad. They look at everything around them with a curled lip and a flared nose like they just smelled a rancid cheese, roll their eyes when the locals speak words they don't understand and generally behave as though they're too damn proud of their ignorance to be bothered to mingle with these foreign folks whose ways they don't care to understand. I'm not saying it isn't accurate, but it sure isn't complimentary or appealing either.

"Fucking tourists."

Kringle, by the way, is played by the legendary Ron Moody, perhaps best remembered today for his tour de force performance as the villainous Fagin in the film version of Oliver! (1968). When I myself played Fagin in my senior year of high school it was Moody's multi-layered portrayal I took as my inspiration. That is to say I completely stole everything I did, from my voice to my posture to my movements, directly from him.

Kringle tells them how pleased he is that they and Benji have come, but could they possibly do him a favor? I thought he was going to ask them to shut the fuck up for the remainder of their time together, but instead he asks if they would mind going to see some friends of his who desperately wish to meet Benji but are stuck working and unable to come to the parade. Patsy says no worries, so long as they'll be back in time, so off they glide, much to the chagrin of the Parade Master, who runs and shouts after them pointing at his watch in vain.

"Come back! We have guetzli!"

Kringle pulls the sleigh up to a rickety old shack with a plank nailed across the door with the word "Verboten" painted on it. He knocks a super Secret Santa knock, which is answered in kind from within, and the door seems to open all on its own. He leads his befuddled guests inside, and when they exit through a door at the back of the building they find themselves in a genuine Santa Town, with stacks of presents, bundles of decorations and pipe-nosed, stiletto-eared elves scurrying to and fro making preparations for their most important night of the year.

One particular elf who seems to be in a position of authority steps up to greet the boss and tell him that things are kind of going to shit, but Kringle tells him he'd better get that shit together or he'll be going back to work in the Keebler cookie factory sweatshop, where the hours are long, the pay is low, and the benefits are non-existent.

"I took you from the E.L. Fudge production line and I can take you back."

Head Elf is played by Deep Roy, a diminutive actor who is one of only a pair of performers to have appeared in the sci fi Triple Crown of Star Trek, Star Wars and Doctor Who. If you must know, and I know you must, the other is Simon Pegg.

Naturally Cindy and Patsy are confused and incredulous, but they follow Kringle as he leads them through his little Christmas Village.

I love Ron Moody, I really do, and he tries so hard to make this hokey shit work, but it just plain doesn't. Joe Camp's dialog is clunky and forced, with any whimsical or humorous intent utterly undermined by the awkward and unatural cadence and utter lack of a cohesive vision for Kringle's character. It seems intended to channel both the manic energy of Gene Wilder's Willy Wonka and the eccentric befuddlement of Tom Baker's take on Doctor Who, but it has neither the mystery of the former nor the mastery of the latter. Despite Moody's nigh heroic efforts it wavers flaccidly between those two poles and never seems to land on a distinct personality or rhythm of its own.

Patsy wants to know just what in tar-nation is going on 'round here, dang-on, but as Kringle tries to find the words to explain he's interrupted by an elf shouting "Look out below!" and jumping down a mock-up of a chimney. The elf lands badly in a heap of twisted limbs and broken toys, and I hope Kringle offers a good health plan or the poor dear will probably spend Christmas having his limbs amputated in a charity hospital.

I wonder do they follow Swiss labor laws or are they a self-governing enclave?

Kringle admits that things aren't looking so hot with his little folks' preparations, and that this year, due to unforeseen circumstances, it's the Elves who are going to have to deliver the toys to the girls and boys all over the world, while he stays home and watches their progress from his Secret Santa Command Center. He sticks his leg on a stump and pulls up his robe to reveal a plaster cast on his left foot.

He wasn't even limping until he mentioned it just now.

Just then a runaway sleigh full of toys comes careening down the path with a panicked elf running behind it, and Deep Roy complains that if the elves can't handle a sleigh by itself they sure as hell ain't going to be able to handle one with flying reindeer attached.

Cindy scrunches her nose at the very mention of flying reindeer, but Kringle assures her yeah, girl, he's got some, and other magical mammals to carry him, too, depending on what country or culture he's passing through at any given moment. Some folks' expectations require him to ride a camel or a horse or even a donkey.

"A horse or donkey, maybe, but only heathens ride camels, dang-on."

Unimpressed by his makeshift menagerie, Cindy smugly asks him where he keeps the flying reindeer.

Why, in a giant pink birdcage, of course.

Upon seeing this unusual stock pen she asks distractedly about where Rudolf might be found, but Deep Roy says he's in the shop getting his batteries recharged. Also he informs the boss that Dancer has escaped again and flown up onto one of the roofs. Apparently, this is an ongoing issue and despite repeated warnings from HR the animal continues to behave in this unacceptable and unprofessional manner.

"I'm a grown-ass reindeer and I do what I like."

Since Patsy hasn't had anything to do or say for awhile, she gets a few lines now, questioning why Kringle's operation isn't at the North Pole.

Kringle very reasonably explains that it's just too fucking cold there, plus Switzerland is way closer to the action when it comes time for his annual flight. Cindy asks where he keeps the red suit he wears when he comes to America and he says it's in the wardrobe, which coincidentally is the very next stop on their tour.

Benji be like "Hey, remember me? The guy this fucking special is named after?"

At this point I paused for a moment to gather my thoughts about how incredibly dull and tedious this special is, and I heard the pit-a-pat of soft paws behind me, followed by the gruff but soothing voice of our newest intern Hector:

"Hey boss, I heard you sighing and groaning in here, thought you could use a break."

I turned to find him walking in holding a tray with a couple of mugs of hot tea and a plate of digestive biscuits.

Intern Hector.

"Thanks, Hector! You're the best!"

"That's what she said. I see you're doing the Benji special, huh? Now, you know that's not the original Benji, right?"

"No, I didn't know that, Hecror, but I'm sure you're gonna tell me about it."

Hector settled in on the chair next to mine, picked up one of the mugs and took a long sip. He got that misty, far-away look in his eye, and I knew I was about to get one of his famous stories. He daubed his whiskers with a tiny napkin and tilted his head up towards the distant, misty land of his memories.

"The original Benji was played by a dog named Higgins, real good friend of mine. I knew him years before he got that gig.

You see, I was at Cal Tech at the time, back in the mid-60's, getting a biochemistry degree I never even used, and I had an apartment pretty close to Hollywood so I met a lot of show people, you know, just out and about. I met Higgy at a place I used to go to eat on weeknights, name of 'The Buttered Biscuit.' No idea if it's still there. They had snapper soup on the menu for sixty cents a bowl! Can you beat that?

Anyway he came in for a bone and a beer one evening and we got to talking and just hit it off. He was in his prime, had a real good, steady thing going as the dog on Petticoat Junction. He was always flush with money but never once spent it on bullshit, you know what I mean? Smart guy, grounded, you know?

He had that rakish, scruffy twinkle in his eye, too, drove all the lady dogs wild. You should've seen how they swooned over him. He could have had his pick of the litter, but he was always a gentleman. He never got in trouble with women, never let himself get sloppy, never got sucked into the movieland machine.

We had a couple of Harleys and used to ride out into the desert together. We'd build a fire, have a few beers, talk and dream. You know how it is when you're young.

He had a brilliant mind. He once invented a self-opening dog-food can. Who'd ever think of that? Higgy, that's who! He though it was his ticket out of the Hollywood rat race, but Alpo wouldn't touch it, and in those days if you didn't have Alpo you just didn't have 'it.'

He took it all in stride, kept his nose to the grindstone, kept working hard. Benji was his last movie before he retired, sitting on a nice little nest egg he'd stowed away for himself. Died two years later. I miss that old rascal.

His daughter Benjean took over the role of Benji starting with the first sequel, and she's in what you're watching now. Sweet kid. Quit the biz in the 80's. Works in hospital administration now. I still get cards at Christmas."

Hector got up, drank the last of his tea and turned to go. "Tempis fugit, boss. You'd better get back to it. If you need me, I'll be in the basement alphabetizing your vintage porn collection. Been at it for two weeks and I'm still only halfway through 'B.' You may want to consider downsizing."

So back in our festive, slow-mo shit we're in the wardrobe building with Kringle's two elvin tailors. Their names are Needles and Pins. Get it? They're tailors, see, and they use needles and pins in their work, but they're also called Needles and Pins. Fucking genius.

They seem a cheerful pair.

Benji finally gets a brief shout-out here as the two busy elves take a break to meet him. Then it's back over to Kringle talking about and demonstrating some of the different outfits he has to wear in different countries to be the version of the icon he's expected to be. It's actually a pretty original concept for a Christmas special to focus on, but outside of this one marginally charming scene the execution is more tedious procedural than festive celebration.

Needles and Pins continue to make a big fuss over Benji as their boss chats about his duds, and the pup gives Needles a lick on the cheek. She thanks him for this basic canine token gesture of affection by choosing a gift for him from a nearby jewelry box. It's a gold necklace bedecked with precious stones that she claims the boss used to wear when he visited Turkey, but he kind of got out of the habit, considering it too gaudy to wear with white.

Bells and baubles and his very own balls,
Benji likes and licks 'em all.

Cindy, ever the backwoods ignoramus asks "Y'all go to Turkey-land and wear white when ya does it, does ya? Dang-on, dang-on?" Kringle replies yes, he does. And he does. And he'll show her, too.

Credit where it's due, the big book Needles and Pins pull out to demonstrate Kringle's various outfits is a decent conceit, with its life-sized pages illustrated up to the neck, so that Kringle can put on different hats and stand behind it to show what he looks like when visiting various parts of the world. It's a welcome bit of whimsical fun amidst a vast landscape of tiresome drudgery.

It's like a much-needed inflatable life raft bobbing along cheerfully on an endless sea of piss.

When he gets to his Unites States Santa costume he steps forward through the page and is instantly, magically wearing the traditional garb us feckless Americans expect of him. Dang-on. Stepping off the page like that is a pretty decent bit of schtick, too. Perhaps I've misjudged you, Benji's Very Own Christmas Story.


What really makes this scene work where others don't is that Kringle is more confidently in charge here, less doddering and unsure. He's comfortable in his skin and masterful in his movements, without the absent-minded stuttering and hesitation that make him seem like he's hovering somewhere just south of senility.

Kris Kringle, now Santa Claus, asks "Wha'dya think? Will they buy this in the States?" but Needles comes out from behind a rack of outfits dressed as Santa Claus herself, white beard and all, and says "The real question is 'Will they buy this in the States?'"

Kringle seems pretty excited by the prospect of his elves finally experiencing the thrill of travelling the entire globe in one night, scooting down chimneys, eating milk and cookies and leaving presents for children all over the world, even as they're all having anxiety attacks and running themselves ragged to make it happen. He's especially grateful not to have to change clothes three or four hundred times this year, and unfortunately this speech brings us right back to doddering Kringle, "Uhh"-ing and "Umm"-ing and "Oh dear"-ing through his dialog again like a fretful old pensioner who can't quite make his bills add up.

He heads into a little changing stall and almost instantly the forest green robe is back, making me wonder: If the costume changes are as quick and easy as he's just shown them to be then what the fuck is he complaining about?

Oh I see. He has to change the hats, too. Totally get it now.

The Texas Tarts point out that he's still wearing the Santa hat, but before he can change it he notices some drawings hanging on the wall, gets distracted and heads over to investigate.

It seems Needles and Pins have been trying out something new, mixing up his look for the Kabur region to make him seem more hip and modern, but they've clearly "lost the thread," so to speak (genius!) and possibly also their tiny elvin minds.

I think I saw this guy at that club in Duesseldorf.

Kabur, by the way, is a Malay word meaning "blurry," and also a fictional prince in a series of fantasy books that weren't yet written when this special was made. Either way it's not someplace Kringle needs to worry about visiting, whether he's glamming up like a sexy 70's man-whore from a Sonny and Cher Christmas special or not.

As Needles and Pins argue over who's to blame for this abominable design the boss clearly hates, Kringle leads his guests outside towards a building with a sign that reads "Great Hall."

On the way Cindy (it's always fucking Cindy) complains that he just can't not go on his trip, gol-dang-it, because think of the children, dang-on.

Kringle responds that most of his elves have been with him for centuries and he's sure they can manage without him, Besides, with his leg broken what other choice does he have?

After a brief commercial message for Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific or some other 70's shit, we rejoin our heroes inside the Secret Santa Command Center, replete with a massive globe and a swanky, high-tech supercomputer that would make IBM's Big Blue turn green with envy.

CEPAC. Christmas Eve Planning And Communications.

Santa explains that with the world's population at an all-time high and more gentiles to service than ever before, he can't rely on paper records and slide-rules anymore in planning his trip. Now his routes are calculated with unmatched precision, using the spinning of the Earth in relation to the position of the sun to give him 24 full hours to make his deliveries.

Nice to see the Secret Santa Command Center is also a distillery.

Kringle tries to explain the astrophysics behind his extended night of deliveries, but it becomes plain the ladies just ain't a-hearin' nothin' but egghead mumbo jumbo, dang-on, so he cuts short his fruitless attempt at reintroducing science education to the American south, and instead leads them to the next stop on their whirlwind tour, the Great Hall itself.

Here we find dozens of elves from many different countries going through piles of mail, cataloging gift requests and relaying telemetry information to CEPAC to ensure that it plots the most efficient route possible. Cindy don't cotton to him having all these foreigners around, but Kringle offers that because they have practical, on-the-ground experience with the places he'll be visiting, employing local elves improves efficiency.

I can't help but notice that this entire sequence is pretty much ripped off whole cloth from Santa Claus vs. The Devil (1959), a Mexican Christmas fantasy film released in the United States under the title Santa Claus and famously mocked by MST3K in 1993.

Benji's version may look better, but the original feels better.

If you must know, and I know you must, Santa Claus vs. The Devil is my number one, hands-down, all-time favorite Christmas movie. It's also one of the strangest films about Santa ever made. I was fortunate enough to have hosted a screening of it at a local theater a couple of Christmases ago, and if not for old man Covid-19 rearing his ugly, protein-encrusted head for the past two years I might have even made it an annual event.

So please get your boosters, people. I really want to show some shitty movies in public again without worrying I might be hosting a superspreader event.

Kringle makes an announcement that since they're all too busy to attend the parade in town (as if they could just show up looking like they do and blend in with the crowd anyway) he's brought them a special guest, the Parade Marshall Benji, of course, who looks like he'd rather be absolutely anywhere else, even at the low-cost, spay-neuter clinic getting castrated, than mobbed by a bunch of weird, creepy-handsy elves jacked up on cocoa and candy canes.

"I'm calling ORCA the minute I get back to Los Angeles."

Now up to this point, except for some extras running around in the background, the elves we've met have all been little people actors, appropriately aged for the roles they're playing. In this scene, all of the elves are children wearing wax noses, bad wigs, plastic Spock ears and unconvincing crepe facial hair. There's something incredibly off-putting about all of this, especially since some of the costumes are borderline racial stereotypes, and some of the make-up is just plain, over-the-line racist, such as a pair of obviously white Scandinavian children in ill-fitting afro wigs and blackface.

I didn't hallucinate them after all.

Some of the other ethnicities, such as Indians and Afghanis seemed to be "blacked up" white folk as well, which maybe wasn't something anyone would've batted an eyelash over in 1978, but it sure sticks out like a hot turd on toast in 2021.

The educationally challenged but ever-inquisitive Cindy asks how Kringle manages to navigate all these trans-global issues of race and culture, dang-on, and he explains yet again that he's got to be everything to everyone, Cindy, that he's not so much a man as a multiplicity...which is an awfully big word that neither she nor Patsy seem to understand.

"Malty what, dang-on?"

Poor, put-upon Kringle is rendered speechless for a moment by their profound and relentless stupidity, and when he regains his equilibrium he finds that he can only effectively elucidate the point in the form of a musical production number.

To be honest it's not a bad song at all. In fact it has a very "Fiddler on the Roof" vibe to it, and it certainly shows off Ron Moody's key talents. It's just that it's jarring to suddenly be thrust into a Hollywood musical sixteen and a half minutes into a twenty-five minute special, especially one that had no pretensions at being a musical up to this point and shall have none whatsoever afterwards.

The number involves some instantaneous costume changes as Kringle does a virtual world tour of his various personas, and there's also a lot of spirited fancy footwork that he seems to navigate just fine despite his allegedly broken limb.

I think Pedro there has his suspicions about that leg.

The song lasts about four minutes and I suppose it really is the centerpiece of the special, however out-of-place it may be. As it whirls like a dynamo through to its energetic conclusion, Kringle steps up onto a gift-wrapped box to deliver his big finish, stomping his bad foot down hard as he sings the final note. When he steps off the box, we see that his thin plaster cast has broken into pieces and come completely off his leg.

Cindy, Patsy and the elves gasp in astonishment, and when Kringle finally notices what has happened he's mortified at being caught out as a malingerer, having lied about his injury to avoid having to make his annual Christmas Eve run.

One more commercial and we're back in the hall with Cindy asking Kringle what the hell he was thinking, dang-on, and he offers some half-assed dissembling about how once, just once he wanted to be like everyone else, to be home for Christmas instead of out galavanting all over the globe.

"Look, kid, it's fucking complicated, okay?"

Cindy counters with some dang-on bullshit of her own about how she guesses maybe she's been selfish all these years, expecting him to be there at everyone else's house when he, of all people deserves a rest, and as she drones on and on and on, her words all melding together into a moquito-like buzz of ennervating, irritating babble, Kringle sees his elves all in a cluster, surrounding and petting Benji, and he hears one of them comment "I've never seen anyone so at home around strangers! I don't understand it!"

"You watching? This is how it's done, bitch!"

This incredibly puerile, essentially meaningless comment provides the epiphany that saves Christmas, as Kris Kringle suddenly realizes that his home, his real home, is out there in other people's homes, because "Home is wherever someone loves you!"

"I just threw up in my mouth a little."

Kringle hops up and claps his hands together with renewed vitality and purpose. He orders everyone back to work, double time and, presumably half-pay because of increased overhead from skyrocketing 1970's oil prices, to ensure he makes it to all his homes on Christmas Eve.

He steps over to hand Benji back to the Texas Tarts, perched now on a bench with a big furry blanket slung over it like the one they sat on in the sleigh, and Patsy gets her first line of dialog in about ten minutes, commenting that "This has been quite an experience." Has it, indeed, Patsy? So nice of you to elevate our little discussion with that penetrating intellect for which you are so justly famous.

Cindy just can't bear to let Patsy have any more dialog, so she interrupts to aver that she can't wait to tell all her friends back home about all this Christmas shit. Kringle, however tells her that won't be possible. It seems they're inside some sort of Whovian multi-Doctor paradox, where once the timestreams settle back into their rightful places they won't remember any details of their adventure at all, "except," he assures them, "for a special warm feeling."

"Like the special warm feeling when you get drunk, black out, and wake up in a spreading pool of your own urine?"

Cindy insists it's important people know Kringle is there, dang-on, but he says it's only important that they know that he is, man. Whatever the fuck that sententious existential horseshit is supposed to mean.

Cindy, more perplexed than ever, asks how will they know what she knows if she doesn't know what she knows, dang-on?

I don't know why she's so upset. I'd pay real money to be able to forget all this.

Suddenly the camera pans up from her and we see that they're not in Kringle's hall anymore, but at the parade and back in the sleigh, with the Parade Master standing over them, confounded by just what the dang-on these haughty American dipshits are going on about.

All he knows is the goddamn parade is about to start, so they'd better get to waving and smiling and holding up that dog if they want him to sign off on their personal appearance fees. He bends down to pet Benji and notices the Turkish necklace, commenting that he at least isn't an ignorant asshole and, my, but what a beautiful collar he's wearing.

Benji does like his bling, yo.

Patsy and Cindy see the necklace and it seems to bring them back to their senses. They look at each other in astonishment, then look up to see Kringle, still in his green German robe and red American Santa hat. He turns and mutters to them sheepishly "Nobody's perfect!"

"I myself have only one nipple."

Kringle gees up his horse and off they glide to join the parade, with Christmas saved and Benji having gained some valuable life experience, and a little something of monetary value, too, that he might pawn off once his fifteen minutes of fame is up, when the film and TV offers shrivel and the cash stops rolling in.

The End.

Shitmas Bonus!
St. Nick's Golden Balls!

Jolly old St. Nicholas of Myra, Greek-born badass, patron saint of children, sailors, prostitutes and pawn brokers took a long, strange trip to become the Santa Claus we know and love today, but a couple of the best-known bits of his current Christmas schtick can be traced directly back to a pair of ancient legends, relaying two of the many charitable acts and straight-up miracles for which he is attributed.

St. Nicholas, here performing his go-to party trick of balancing his balls on his bible.

If you've ever wondered why Santa comes down the chimney instead of in through the window, or the door for that matter, well it's all because of one legend with two basic variants, one of which melded together with existing folk beliefs to become iconic and influential in terms of St. Nick eventual morphing into Santa Claus.

Lots of supernatural things, nasty and otherwise were believed to come down the chimney in the olden times, from helpful Brownies in Scotland to evil Bodachs in Ireland, to scheming witches on their magic brooms throughout Europe and beyond, but this particular mode of entry for Santa comes from St. Nick having saved three women from being sold into a life of prostitution by their father, who was too poor to afford their dowreys.

The legend states that the future saint provided them with the necessary funds in the form of either three sacks of coins or three balls made of solid gold. In one version he chucks 'em in the window, in another he tosses them down the chimney. The latter is the one that stuck.

Pawn shop signs still feature three golden balls in honor of St. Nicolas' patronage.

The way St. Nick became associated with kindness to children is considerably weirder. It seems a particular butcher in a particular town hated kids so much that when three boys came knocking at his shop to ask for directions he dragged 'em in, chopped 'em up and pickled 'em in a salt barrel. Seven years later St. Nick was out walking and passed the self-same butcher's shop, and immediatelty he felt his Sainty-sense tingling. He walked in and demanded to see the salt barrel, whacked it with his staff a few times and suddenly the three boys popped out, all glued back together and reanimated like three little pickled people zombies.

The legend does not relate whether they awoke with a hankering for human brains.

From saving innocent men from execution to rebuking storm-tossed waves in order to prevent a shipwreck, St. Nick was once your go-to guy when you needed some serious help or divine intervention. Now he's your go-to guy to put an X-box or an I-Phone or a swanky pair of Nikes under your tree. I know times change but that sure doesn't sound like a step up to me.

If you must know, and I know you must, Benji's Very Own Christmas Story was nominated for an Emmy. It lost.

Merry Christmas, folkses.

Next Installment: December 17th!

As always, Cheers and thanks for reading!

Written by Bradley Lyndon in December, 2021.

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