Jonny's Easter Christmas

Once upon a time, there was a beloved and sacred holiday called Easter. For millions of people, it was the most special day of the year that represented redemption, forgiveness and love for every member of the human family. It was also a division of a multi-national corporation that licensed all of the world’s holidays.

Everyone who worked there hated the place. Easter was managed by an incompetent and backwards-thinking rabbit who thought that everyone’s idea of a good time was awkwardly painting hard-boiled eggs and eating gross marshmallow candies shaped like baby chickens. But what made working for the bunny most intolerable of all was his obsessive jealously over the popularity of Christmas.

The bunny’s least favorite day of the year – aside from Christmas Day itself – was when Forbes Magazine came out with its annual list of the most progressive and intelligently run holidays. Christmas was always firmly at the top of the heap, while Easter eternally dangled with Simchat Torah and Administrative Assistants Day at the bottom of the pile.

Finally fed up with Easter’s diminshing popularity, the board of directors hired a marketing firm to analyze the holiday and come up with some suggestions to improve its image. Consultants spent months interviewing the rabbit’s underlings to get a handle on how the holiday operated, and finally delivered a report to the nervous rodent at the end of September.

The board of directors hired a marketing firm to analyze Easter.

“The problem seems to be, uh, you,” said the manager of the firm as the rabbit anxiously munched on a carrot stick while trying unpersuasively to look calm. “We spoke to everyone here, and the consensus is that you drag down the holiday by refusing to bring in any contemporary ideas. While Santa Claus is signing contracts with Nintendo and Apple, you seem to think that kiddies are going to get excited by a basket of jelly beans and those nasty-ass Peeps. I mean, who wouldn’t rather get hammered at a Christmas party and make out with a stranger under some mistletoe rather than get up at seven o’clock in the morning and hunt for painted hard-boiled eggs?”

“ENOUGH!” screamed the rabbit, who was now nearly in tears. “You stuffed shirts don’t know what you’re talking about! There’s nothing more fun than a hard-boiled egg dipped in food coloring! I knew that you were going to try and tell me that! People like you have been knocking the eggs for years. Because they’re jealous! They’re all jealous!”

The consultant rolled her eyes at the tantrum, having been warned that the notion of the hard-boiled eggs was the bunny’s one great legacy in the job, with the idea having propelled him to being the head of the holiday some three hundred years previously. But the rabbit had rested on his laurels since that time, and was known for being resistant to any kind of change; especially about anything having to do with the eggs.

“I’m not saying the eggs weren’t a great idea for their time,” said the consultant, changing her tone to try and be more conciliatory. “But you haven’t done anything to update Easter’s image since you started putting chocolate in the baskets after World War II…”

“Worst thing I ever did,” interjected the bunny bitterly. “I should never have agreed to go along with that idea – and I fired the idiot who came up with it.”

“When he was snapped up by Halloween, which is now number two on the Forbes list after Christmas,” parried the consultant. “You’ve got to start coming up with some fresh ideas to update Easter, or the board of directors will hire him to run things here and you’ll be skinned and turned into a muff – and not the good kind of muff that most of the perverts who are reading this card automatically thought of; the kind that pretentious rich ladies keep their hands warm with. I’ll leave my report with you, but you’d better take some action - and now.”

The bunny’s stomach was churning as the consultant left the office. The enormous rodent swallowed a handful of Tums and quickly scanned the report, finally kicking it into the shredder next to his executive-style desk.

“They don’t know what they’re talking about,” the bunny whispered nervously to himself while rolling some ball bearings in his paw. “The problem isn’t with the way I’m running things here – I’m as brilliant as ever. I’ve just got to show the world that Christmas isn’t the perfectly well-oiled machine that everyone thinks it is. I need to get them to hire someone so incompetent that he’ll shut down the entire holiday, making the world know that Santa Claus isn’t the managing genius he’s conned the board of directors into believing he is. Then I’ll step in and save the day, so that they’ll finally realize that Père Noël is past his prime and needs to be put out to pasture and that I should be in charge. It’s a perfect plan. The only question is where am I going to find someone so stupid and incompetent that he can bring down Christmas single-handedly?

At about this time, a young muse named Jonny M. was being fired from his job as a Wall Street stockbroker. The noble muse was trusted with only the most inconsequential tasks on the trading floor, like running coffee and giving back rubs to suspiciously effeminate and unmarried middle-aged traders who found Jonny’s sagging paunch and graying goatee irresistible; but the muse had proved himself so ineffectual at even these menial tasks that the Dow had somehow dropped 770 points in a single day, despite the fact the Jonny himself had nothing to do with the actual trading. Sadly, the muse logged onto and, sensing the disastrous direction the economy was taking, typed in the words that he expected to see in the news a lot in the coming months: “Bank Holiday.” He got only one result:

“Intelligent go-getter wanted for established holy day. Must enjoy eggnog and tolerate working with elves. Send résumé and salary history to the Easter Bunny, Easter Dept., Holidays Worldwide, Inc., San Antonio, TX.”

The Easter Bunny was beside himself as Halloween approached. The collapse of the U.S. economy meant that the Best and the Brightest were being laid off by the thousands, and that everyone who applied for the position was a go-getter with a graduate degree who was willing to work for half their previous salary just to get health insurance.

“What happened to all the skaters and closet alcoholics?” asked the bunny as he crushed his executive stress ball. “If I were to hire anyone who has applied so far, they would outshine me so badly that I’d be out on my fluffy tail in weeks. Where are all the unemployable losers?”

As the words escaped the rabbit’s buck teeth, the drunken figure of Jonny M. staggered into the office. The muse had typically gotten lost inside the building while trying to find the Easter department, and had stopped by every other holiday office to try and find his way. As he was pushed out the door by disgusted administrative assistants, the foul muse made certain to grab a bottle of whatever booze was associated with the holiday from the department’s widow display – Tequila for Cinco de Mayo, Irish Whiskey for St. Patrick’s Day, Manishevitz Concord Grape Wine for Purim – so that he was nicely toasted as he tottered towards the bunny’s desk.

Jonny sampled the booze associated with every holiday office he visited.

“Hey, what gives?” drawled the muse as he wiped some malt liquor that he had stolen from the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day department from his chapped lips. “The other holidays have terrific hooch on display in their offices, but all you have is some god-awful sacramental wine that has such a low alcohol content that it wouldn’t even get me a prosecutable D.U.I. And what’s with all the hard-boiled eggs? This is the lamest…”

While the muse was in mid-sentence, the LSD-laced spring water that he had taken from the Timothy Leary’s Birthday kiosk kicked in and he threw up and then collapsed neatly on top of the pool of vomit. The bunny at first recoiled in disgust, but then studied Jonny’s sloping forehead, alcohol-stained corduroy leisure suit, and girlishly soft and smooth hands acquired from a lifetime of avoiding any type of physical exertion, and realized that he had found his man.

Jonny regained consciousness to find himself wearing a tight-fitting business suit with a bow tie and seated in the waiting room of the Christmas department. The muse’s head was spinning, but he was still able to recognize that the elaborate suite of offices that he was sitting in was worlds apart from the spare and depressing series of gray cubicles that maintained Easter. Richly tailored green and red satin wallpaper adorned the walls decorated with expensively framed photos of Santa Claus posing with celebrities from the world of politics, entertainment, and high finance; and a staff of young women who looked like they had just come from the set of America’s Next Top Model paraded in and out of the offices made it clear to Jonny that this was a workplace that had a strong degree of competition for its highly-paid and glamorous positions. Jonny tried to figure out how he could sample some of the bourbon-spiked eggnog displayed in a punch bowl in the lobby, but a burly security guard was staring at the muse with a disgust that was akin to a homophobe from South Carolina watching the Tony Award telecast. The standoff was distracted by the Easter Bunny engaging in an angry shouting match with the receptionist.

The Easter Bunny was engaged in an angry shouting match with the receptionist.

“Don’t take that condescending tone with me, young lady,” screamed the angry rodent. “I said that I wanted to see Santa Claus, and I meant now!”

“I’m sorry, sir” responded the flustered beauty behind the desk, “but I’m afraid Mr. Claus is in a production meeting with the elves all day. He doesn’t have an opening on his calendar until March, but if you’d like to speak to one of his assistants…”

“Assistants?” hissed the bunny. “You think you’re going to pawn me off on an assistant? Do you know that I hired Santa Claus? He worked in the mailroom when I was the manager of The Festival of the Winter Solstice. That was back in the days when the Pagans who ran this company appreciated a rabbit’s hard work. Not like now. Well let me tell you, you can’t just eat the carrot and throw away the peelings. A man is not a biennial root!”

The bunny’s hysterical parody of Death of a Salesman was interrupted by the familiar figure of a portly, white-bearded man entering the lobby from an adjacent conference room. He was wearing an expensive Armani business suit in place of his famous red and white sleigh-riding kit, but there was no mistaking Santa Claus as he rushed over to put a stop to the outburst.

“What on earth is going on here?” demanded Santa as he bee-lined to the reception desk. “The elves and I can’t hear ourselves think, and we have an important deadline to… oh, hello Peter.”

The temperature in the lobby seemed to drop twenty degrees as Santa and the Easter Bunny awkwardly beheld each other. Neither said a word at first as the tension rose perceptibly, until the bunny realized that it was up to him to break the ice.

“Hello, Nick. It’s been a long time. Or, I guess I should say Saint Nick now. Belated congratulations on that. It’s very gratifying for me to know that someone I hired was elevated to such a prestigious title, especially since I…”

“Just plain old Nick is fine,” interrupted Santa, anxious to avoid the uncomfortable direction the conversation was going. “It’s wonderful to see you, Peter, but I’m afraid I’m in a meeting. Maybe we can catch up at the annual golf retreat that the board of directors throws for the department heads … oh, but then your numbers weren’t quite where they needed to be to be invited to that, were they? Well, maybe…”

“I’ll make it quick,” cut in the bunny, trying desperately to mask his contempt for the obese backstabber that stood before him. “My nephew over here just graduated from M.I.T. and he’s looking for a job. I’d snap him up myself of course, but after the recent budget cuts and layoffs that they made in my department, there’s nothing for him. But I saw the annual financial report and noticed that your budget was nearly doubled – again – so I was hoping that there might be a position open for him here.”

Santa glanced skeptically at the figure of Jonny M. in the distance, with the muse trying unconvincingly to look like he wasn’t trying to sneak a peek at the receptionist’s legs in her short, tailored skirt.

“I don’t know,” said Santa. “We have a long waiting list for people who want jobs here…”

“You owe me this, Nick,” interjected the bunny. “Or don’t you remember a young elf who came to me to apply for a job all those centuries ago. The upper management took one look at your hippie facial hair and flamboyant sense of color and said that I’d be crazy to hire you. But I followed my gut and took a chance. And now I’d like you to return the favor.”

Santa’s wary sneer melted.

“We only have one position open until we reorganize the department in April,” said Kris Kringle warmly. “If your boy wants to be the janitor here, I’ll call H.R. and set it up right now. After the reorg, we’ll review his performance and see what can be done for him.”

“That would be fantastic,” said the bunny through clenched teeth. “I really appreciate it.”

The bunny was frantic. He knew that a reorganization in April meant that the long-whispered rumors of Easter being absorbed into Christmas would finally take place, and that he would either be terminated, or – even worse – be demoted to a low-level bean counter position for Groundhog Day or Black History Month. The bunny used the little influence that he still had to rush Jonny’s application through at
H.R. – even going to the lengths of replacing the muse’s urine sample and its 94% alcohol level with one submitted by a guy who was applying for a job as a faster in the Yom Kippur department – and Jonny found himself starting work as the janitor for the Christmas suite of offices the following Monday.

Jonny found that he enjoyed the work – the Christmas operation was so impeccably organized that it was essentially paperless with little to clean up, so there was very little actual janitoring to do – so the muse spent most of his time ogling the fabulous babes who worked in the office or hanging out with the elves who put together toys on the assembly line. And when Jonny’s birthday came on December 15th, the elves showered the muse with traditional gifts of alcohol that his good friends always provided him with just to show that they loved him and that they appreciated all the work that went into the making of these idiotic cards every year.

The bunny would take Jonny to lunch at the holiday cafeteria.

Best of all, the muse was treated to an expensive lunch every Friday by the Easter Bunny, who said that he was very concerned that Jonny was being well treated by management and wanted to know all the details of what he had experienced that week. At every meeting, the bunny would order the same thing – carrot soup with a side order of carrots and carrot cake for dessert, all washed down with two dry martinis and a bottle of Maalox – and listen attentively as Jonny described the inner workings of the Christmas department. The muse was flattered by the attention of such a highly placed executive, although he at first assumed that the bunny had some twisted sexual motive for wanting to get to know him and felt a pang of disappointment to discover that it wasn’t the case, and that the rabbit was only interested in mentoring him in a strictly professional fashion. Jonny soon found that the Friday lunches were becoming his favorite part of the week, and he looked forward to telling his new friend about all the developments in the department.

“Santa is really excited about our new method for launching the reindeer,” exclaimed Jonny one Friday as he slid onto a stool at the lunch counter, anxious to try the cafeteria’s new Kwanzaa Chicken and Waffles.

“What new method?” smirked the bunny. “The only way to launch reindeer is to feed them Pixie Dust. It’s the same way they’ve been doing it for the last six hundred years. Oh, sometimes they put some spin on it to make it look like they’re accomplishing something to the board of directors – like when they added fluoride to the stuff in the 1960s – but it’s still the same old Pixie Dust.”

“Nope,” responded Jonny as he nursed his Mr. Pibb. “Santa says he’s cutting out the Pixie Dust – his researchers have concretely determined that it’s the reason all those reindeer were born with red, glowing noses that turned out to be melanomas. Instead, they’re initiating a global network of computer-guided laser highways for the reindeer to ride on on Christmas Night. Santa says that it will be much more accurate and efficient, and we won’t have to tamper with the reindeer’s biological makeup any more to make it work.”

The bunny’s eyes were wild with excitement.

“Can you get me a copy of the schematics for this computer network?” the rodent asked.

“No problem,” replied Jonny as he happily dug into the collared greens that came with his chicken and waffles. “We’re playing poker tonight in the Head Elf’s office after work. I can ask him if I can just print them out for you on his computer.”

“No, no,” interjected the bunny. “No need to let him know what you’re doing. Just go ahead and do it with my security clearance. I’m deputizing you as a kind of ‘secret shopper’ so that the board of directors will know exactly what’s going on within the department. Just print out the schematics without anyone knowing, and drop them off at my hole in the Palisades tomorrow morning.”

It wasn’t hard for Jonny to carry out the bunny’s orders. The elves were an ultra-competitive lot who were prone to drink heavily and erupt into hellacious fistfights when they weren’t making toys, so when the inevitable scuffle broke out over whether or not a flush beat a straight, the muse crept over to the Head Elf’s computer and quietly printed out the schematics.

Jonny looked at the bunny’s collection of vintage Playboy Magazines
while the rabbit studied the schematics.

The bunny couldn’t believe his good luck when he saw the plans. This is what Santa had been spending his enormous budget surpluses on while the Easter department was forced to buy damaged eggs from government warehouses? It was obvious to the rodent if the main computer in the runway area at the North Pole broke down for even a few minutes, the whole network would crash and the reindeer wouldn’t be able to fly for hours.

“Santa would have no choice but to force Pixie Dust down their throats then!” exclaimed the bunny. “I can just see the old fool desperately grabbing it out of his sack and trying to make those simple-minded antelope swallow it as he’s stranded on some rooftop in Outer Mongolia.”

“Oh, that wouldn’t happen,” said Jonny as he looked through the bunny’s collection of Playboy Magazines from the 1960s. “Santa was so horrified by the reindeer’s reactions to the Pixie Dust that he refused to approve the purchase of any for this year. He’s putting all of our efforts into the new computer network.”

The bunny was amazed. Pixie Dust had to be special ordered from the fairies at Hard Rock Candy Mountain with at least a six month lead time, and Santa didn’t have any on reserve in case his complicated plan failed? All the bunny would have to do is have someone sabotage the main computer and then he would show up with enough Pixie Dust to keep the reindeer flying until Labor Day. The board of directors would be so impressed by his ingenuity that they’d promote the bunny to being the head of the Christmas department, while Santa would be out on his ass and submitting résumés to the Keebler factory by New Year’s. Getting the Pixie Dust would be no problem – the bunny had photos of the Tooth Fairy engaging in illegal sexual acts with a copy room boy, so he could be coerced into getting all the Pixie Dust the plan needed. The only missing piece of the puzzle was who would break down the main computer at the runway?

“You’ve been doing such a great job that I’d like to send you on an all-expenses-paid vacation,” said the bunny to Jonny as the muse slobbered over photos of Miss January, 1967. “How’d you like to spend Christmas Eve at the North Pole?”

Jonny was ecstatic as Christmas Eve arrived and he was sitting in the grandstands at the North Pole, waiting to watch Santa Claus start his annual flight. Tickets to the grandstand were usually only supplied to the highest placed and most successful executives in the corporation, but since the Tooth Fairy had to go to Brazil to see a specialist about a mysterious rash in his genital area, he gave the bunny his tickets along with the Pixie Dust in exchange for the negatives of his copy room tryst.

“Are you enjoying yourself?” asked the bunny. “Would you like some more nachos,
or another Dasher Dog?”

“I’m having a great time,” replied the muse. “I only wish I could get a look at the main computer that the elves have been talking about.”

The bunny saw his chance.

“Why it’s right behind that door,” said the rodent, indicating an area marked No Admittance. “You have the Tooth Fairy’s security clearance, so you can get in with no problem. “I hear it’s quite a system – uses Windows Vista as its operating system. What I suggest you do is open the software that powers the Christmas navigation network just to check it out, and then – just for kicks – open another program that uses a lot of memory like Adobe Illustrator. You like Adobe Illustrator, don’t you?”

“Heck, yes!” replied Jonny.

“Then go for it, boy!”

The bunny flashed a sinister smile as the muse bounded into the computer room. He knew that as soon as Jonny tried to open both the navigation software and Adobe Illustrator with Windows Vista, the system would crash and Santa would be desperate for the bag of Pixie Dust that the bunny had stashed in his fanny pack. The rodent sat smugly back is his seat as Santa made his grand entrance, carrying the huge sack of toys to be delivered to all the good boys and girls of the world. The bunny would have to sit through the moment he hated the most – the smug, self serving speech that Santa always gave before taking off – and this year it would be even worse because he would be hearing it live instead of watching it on YouTube while complaining bitterly to the prostitute he had hired to get through Christmas Day.

Santa took the microphone and squinted carefully into the crowd, not beginning until he was satisfied by seeing something in the area of the bleachers that the bunny was sitting in.

“My friends,” began Saint Nick as the bunny rolled his eyes in anticipation of the bile that would soon be rising to his throat, “I thought I knew everything there was to know about Christmas. But then I bumped into an old friend a little while ago – a friend who gave me my start in this business, and one I hadn’t seen in a long time. It made me realize that Christmas isn’t simply celebrating the happiness of our lives today, but of assessing the rich tapestry of our existences and paying tribute to those who, while we may not see them on a day-to-day basis, have a permanent place in our hearts as guardian angels who have helped guide us from the rough-edged souls that we were, to the happier and wiser spirits that we have become; ready to offer guidance to a new generation of souls eager to learn from our hard-won knowledge. And I’d like to take a moment on this most Special Day of the year to thank my own guardian angel. Would the Easter Bunny please join me at the podium?”

The rodent felt a moist pellet shoot out of his fluffy tail as a spotlight suddenly singled him out from the crowd, and the crowd came to their feet in applause as a nubile young female elf guided the bunny out of his seat in the bleachers to join Santa at the microphone.

“A lot of holidays – including mine – get far too much attention because of our commercial appeal and fancy bells and whistles,” said Santa as the rabbit stood self-consciously beside him. “But what makes our celebrations perennial is the ongoing tradition and ritual that remind us of our connection to past generations of the human family who celebrated those occasions in much the same way. You’ve never lost sight of that, and to honor your commitment to that tradition, the board of directors has ordered me to present you with a long-overdue key to the executive washroom.”

The crowd rose in a spontaneous standing ovation as the bunny’s eyes welled up with tears. Santa handed the rodent the golden key and stepped away from the microphone to give the bunny room to address the crowd. The rabbit looked across at the sea of adoring facing before him and leaned into the microphone to begin to speak, when his eyes suddenly opened wide at the realization that his nefarious plot was about to be hatched.

A spotlight suddenly singled the bunny out from the crowd.

“Holy shit! The computer!”

The assembly was shocked as the rabbit jumped off the podium and hopped desperately towards the computer area. He only prayed that he had time to stop Jonny from crashing the network. The bunny burst through the forbidding iron doors and into the computer room, only to find the muse sitting in the corner studying one of the vintage Playboys that he had stolen from the rabbit’s hole. When Jonny saw the bunny storm into the room, followed by Santa and the members of the board, he recognized his cue and sprang to his feet.

“Shame on you,” said the muse, beginning the pompous speech that he always gave at the climax of these idiotic stories. ‘How dare you, on this most Special Day of Days…”

“We’re not doing the speech this year,” interrupted the rabbit. “It’s more of a How the Grinch Stole Christmas-type story this time. Anyway, why aren’t you at the computer? You were supposed to be in the process of crashing the network to complete my evil plot to ruin Christmas.”

“I couldn’t get the flying toasters to close down,” admitted Jonny with a vacant stare, “and when the Indian guy at the Help Desk put me on hold for the fifth time, I decided to look at old school porn instead.”

The rabbit hung his head, ashamed at his plot but relieved that it had failed because he had hired such a moron to carry it out.

“I don’t deserve to be the manager of Easter,” said the bunny sadly as he offered his executive washroom key to Santa. “I came up with an evil scheme to destroy you that only failed because of my managerial ineptitude. I’m behind the times and incompetent. You’ll have my resignation in the morning.”

The room was thick with silence until Santa broke the tension with a jolly Ho Ho Ho.

“You’re still better than those assholes who ran the Savings and Loan industry into the ground,” chuckled Saint Nick. "One of the points of Christmas is the idea that someone can acknowledge his mistakes and emerge a better person as a result. You’ve done that today, and it wouldn’t say much for us if we cut you loose just as you were on the path to redemption. Anyway, where are we going to find another cute, over-sized rodent to replace you? Mickey Mouse is on a long-term contract with Disney, and the rats in the New York City sewer system want too much money. No, you’ll be with the corporation for a long, long time.”

So all was happiness at the Holidays Worldwide, Inc. corporate headquarters. Easter was absorbed into Christmas in the April reorganization and the bunny was laid off, but he had a seventeen million dollar golden parachute and retired cheerfully to Barbados. The fairies at Hard Rock Candy Mountain were busted by the Feds when it was revealed that Pixie Dust was nothing more than cocaine laced with PCP, but they got off on appeal. Santa Claus was elevated to Chairman of the Board of the corporation, and tripled their profits by getting Camel Cigarettes to sponsor Ash Wednesday. And every member of the human family – young and old, rich and poor – had their best holiday ever as long as they clung to whatever traditions gave them an ongoing connection to the memory of holidays past.

But happiest of all was Jonny M. Sure, he was pissed off that he had been relegated to being a relatively minor character in this year’s Christmas story, but he contented himself with the knowledge that everyone enjoyed the tale so much that he would be showered with gifts of alcohol for his birthday on December 15th. So with a wink of good cheer to his new friends, he locked himself in the computer room with his stash of 1960s Playboys and didn’t reemerge until January 20th, when it was time to celebrate National Penguin Awareness Day.

And happiness to you, dear friend. Whether you are celebrating Christmas, Chanukah, or simply enjoying the bright lights and hustle & bustle of the holiday season, remember that you are an indispensable member of the human family who has a rich tapestry of tradition to keep alive during this special time of year. And know that you always have a loving friend in Jonny M.

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