Christmas Eve 1976

L-R: Santa Claus, me, Tommy, Bobby

The Young Kurt Cobain Chronicles, Part 27:’wherein our rock-star-to-be thanks Santa for bringing the Beatles into his miserable little life.

Actually, am I shaking Santa’s hand or is he pulling me towards him? Probably the latter, as Santa still has presents in his hands and I don’t, thereby giving me no reason to shake his hand.’Either way, I don’t look especially happy and I certainly wasn’t — the moment he came in through the front door I tried as hard as I could to make myself as invisible as possible, even going so far as to hide behind people, hoping he wouldn’t see me. At least I’m not crying this time.’I didn’t know it then, but the Santa here was in fact the son-in-law of a babysitter, Mrs. Marciano, that I regularly visited that year.’I was pretty confused by his visit, sicne he came in with a couple of non-elf adults I had never seen before, and then left with them in a car.

Do I even believe in Santa Claus at all at this point? I think I was both believing and not-believing, and unable to sense any contradiction in this stance. I was’still suspicious that Santa was a story adults told did to keep children dumb, since they always talked about Santa in the same dumb, condescending voice they used to tell kids other dumb, condescending stories. (Around this time, when a friend of my mom’s tells me about a conversation he had with her horse, I get angry and say “but horses…can’t talk…human-talk.”). Anyway, there’s always plenty of empirical evidence available to a kid to NOT believe. Wrapped gifts appeared under the tree before Christmas as long as I can remember. (I have a very early memory, from maybe three or four, of Bobby showing my that our parents’ bedroom closet was filled with toys stacked in neat towers, unwrapped.) My mom says that she explained the seeming discrepancy of Christmas gifts appearing before Santa’s visit by telling me that “there are presents we give you and there’s the presents that Santa give you when he visits our house,” reinforcing this line by placing new gifts under the night before Christmas when we’re all asleep. But then there’s the reality of Santa clones everywhere and Christmas specials where Santa (as opposed to someone just dressing like him) doesn’t figure at all, and crimony, how does Christ figure into any of this? (You never see them together in the same place…WHICH COULD ONLY MEAN!!!)

On the other hand, when it came to getting lots and lots of presents, one didn’t take chances with disbelief. Plus I was still pretty incredulous about a lot of things — this month my mom tells me that the night before, when she was shopping for Christmas presents, she saw Jack Frost! Just for a wee fleeting moment, but yes, him! Not only do I believe her I think this visitation is a sign that she’s downright blessed or something. A photo from Christmas ’77 show milk and cookies by the fireplace; I bet I placed them but I think (I think) this might’ve been done out of a sense of tradition and when I saw the food gone the next day, I assumed my Dad ate it. (He was kinda overweight at the time and I wasn’t above being malicious at his expense.) Some time later I lamely deduce that since Christmas is about Christ’s birth, Santa Claus doesn’t exist. The 1979 book Encyclopedia Brown’s Record Book of Weird and Wonderful Facts has a factoid proving by science the physical impossibility of Santa Claus, and reading that pretty much settles the matter in my mind; my mom lets out a disappointed groan when I tell her. That Christmas Eve, Bobby and I stay up late enough to surreptitiously (since I’m a kid, this means “not surreptitiously at all”) watch Tommy and my mother wrap more presents. The year after that, my mom gives up and takes me to a Toys ‘R’ Us to help her buy presents for everybody.’

By the way, this is our den, mere weeks after a major remodeling job. The sliding glass doors (which I bet were deemed too burglar-friendly for comfort) were removed in favor of a real brick fireplace to complement our fake fireplace upstairs, and the fake wood paneling from earlier shots was replaced with real wood paneling. Plus some lovely parquetry flooring and “greenhouse” windows that jutted out and leaked warm air like crazy. And we got a television in the wall, just like rich people do! Earlier that day, with the light of a brilliantly sunny winter day streaming through those windows, I watched A Night at the Opera on the incredibly new Superstation and it’s the most powerful and sustained set of laughs I’ve had in all my five-and-a-half years of life.