I used to believe that the greatest risk to a good Christmas was the possibility of Santa being shot down by anti-aircraft fire over some godless communist country.
In a dank Moscow cell, Santa would be tortured into revealing the secret location of his workshop. The elves would be rounded up and shot, and the reindeer sent to labor camps.
That’s what the Old Man told me every Christmas Eve, when I wouldn’t stop asking him where Santa’s sleigh might be at any given moment.
Later, I came to understand that Christmas was about Jesus, who brought the best presents of all. And there was no way Russians could shoot him down.
Him • “A lot you know. They got this anti-Christ missile that can .... “
Mom • “Bob!”
Him • “Well, the kid needs to grow up. He’ll be driving next year.”
Today, I know for a fact that the greatest danger to the holiday season is a domestic one. And I don’t mean the veranda vermin who spoil Christmas by looting packages left by delivery companies.
Most homeowners understand that it’s against the law to shoot these thieves on sight. Many are unaware that it’s even illegal to beat them with clubs or catch them in leg hold traps.
But are porch pirates really the greatest threat to the most wonderful time of the year? I’m old now and forced to say no.
The Christmas holiday is traditionally based on three things: obsessive greed, financial ruin and acute malnutrition.
The evidence is in our kitchen, where the counters buckle under the weight of unhealthy Christmas goodness — candy, caramel corn, pastries, chocolates, fruitcake, banana bread, and items of delicious but nondescript gooeyness.
The doorbell rings nearly every evening. Another bit of holiday greetings in the form of calories then is handed inside or left on the porch. The dog and I gain a collective 25 pounds every Christmas.
Thus far this season, the prize for Holiday Treat Originality goes to whoever left a five-pound bag of pure cane sugar with a tag. “Happy holidays to: the Kirbys.”
Think about it. A bag of sugar is the perfect holiday treat. It contains all the same sugary sentiment but without the fuss of baking it into something that might be mistaken by a glutton as slightly wholesome.
Mind you, I am not complaining. Last night, during the annual screening of my favorite Christmas movies, “Die Hard” and “Bullitt,” I ate a box of chocolates, most of a date and nut loaf, two cinnamon buns, and a dozen of, well, I’m not sure what. But they contained pecans and were damn delicious.
When the films ended, I knocked back half a bottle of Maalox and went to bed. I got maybe 45 minutes of gastrointestinally troubled sleep.
While I can’t blame anyone for making me eat all that stuff, I do blame people for making it tempting enough that I’m willing to lie to myself about how hazardous it might be to my health.
Not everyone is so sugary cheerful. My home “minister” from the Latter-day Saint ward dropped by with a large bowl of the best potato and bacon soup I’ve ever tasted.
And an anonymous someone — I suspect Sonny — left a plate of lovingly arranged .45-caliber cartridges complete with a Christmas bow and card.
“Merry Christmas, dumba--. Don’t hurt anyone.”
If it was Sonny who left the bullet tray, then he’s the only one who understands the true spirit of the season. Don’t hurt anyone. Including yourself.
Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.