Christmastime is almost here again, and that means it's time for all good little boys and girls to go to bed and have long, complex dreams influenced heavily by our consumer culture, which are then interpreted by our most hallowed artists, bound into pamphlet form, and distributed at retail stores, as is the tradition of our people.

In this case the hallowed artist interpreting our Christmas Dreams is Al Jaffee, who invented Mad Magazine's "Fold-In" and who is about to turn 100! And who, like many of our most popular Christmas mythologists, is Jewish. Now climb into Santa's sack and grab ahold of that train and let's go Christmasing!

Remember Santa (or competent performance at your job tomorrow) only visits good little girls and boys (or men and women) who get their sleep! It's page one and already this comic is handing out worthwhile advice. Now go to sleep.

It's alarming to learn so much bad news comes from Santa Claus that he needs a specifically designated "Bad News Elf."

Suddenly the flaws of Santa's "free-range reindeer plan" become obvious.

In the future, all high-speed travel will be via fast, safe, zero-emissions folk sayings.

Look, here at Santa's Toy Factory we just MAKE the toys, warehousing is somebody ELSE's job. If you don't want those toys lying around in the snow, maybe update your distribution chain!

Sure was convenient, having these numbered dots lying around in the snow in the shape of a... let's see... a hung-over coyote?

Is this happy Christmas dream about to turn into a Christmas-themed blood-soaked nightmare as the kids accidentally track down a vicious axe murderer?

Hey, a polar bear. Maybe this WILL turn violent after all. Those things don't mess around!

Wait a minute... two young adventurers, a magic elf companion, mystical objects, an underground maze... this is turning into a Dungeons & Dragons module. OK, fine, I'll order the pizza. Roll a D20 and we'll start.

This guy only has to work three weeks a year, tops. The rest of the time all he has to do is relax and watch the trees grow. You'd be merry too!

These kinds of hidden object pictures always weirded me out as a kid, my pareidolia would kick in and I wouldn't be able to look at trees or cracked concrete or stained anything without conjuring up strange faces, which would then command me to... well, that's really a conversation I should be having with my therapist.

In the meantime, let's take a moment and focus on the true meaning of the Christmas season!

Toys! Yes, roadsters and trains and Micky(sic) Mouse Expresses, all brought to you by Murphy's Toyland.

Absolutely appalled that the copywriters at Murphy's didn't go with "Well Hello Dollies" here. I mean it's OBVIOUS

Reinforce those gender roles with BOY TOYS like GAS STATIONS and FOOTBALLS and HANDGUNS! Why not take that handgun to the gas station and make a "withdrawal"? Then you can make your getaway in either the auto or the red wagon!

Look buddy you're the Town Crier! If you want to deliver GOOD news, drop by Human Resources first and get your employment designation re-routed. Then fill out this form, and this form, and this form. Sign here. Okay, NOW go cheer up Santa.

Sure, the reindeer didn't think they'd worry Santa by vanishing on the one single solitary day of the year Santa needs them. Reindeer aren't that smart.

Sometimes we wonder if Christmas sort of conflates Santa Claus and Jesus, and this scene here with what's basically a birthday cake for Santa Claus is doing a good job making our case for us. Also, don't let the dog lick the cake! Ew!

Hey kids, that's a good line to try on the parents when you want another piece of cake - it'll give you more energy to clean your room, or rake the yard, or wash the dishes!

Look at all these great presents! Let's all grab our computer monitors and hold them up to the light and see what Jimmy and Jane are getting for Christmas!

Looks like it's gonna be a merry Christmas indeed! For ten or fifteen minutes anyway. Go easy with that Seagrams, kids.

And Jimmy and Jane are home again in two shakes of a lamb's tail, after that journey of a thousand miles began with a single step, rolling and gathering no moss, traveling fast like bad news, and the devil take the hindmost as they change horses in midstream while not crossing the bridge until they come to it. Draw all THAT, Young 1940s Jaffee!

I think he's trying to say Santa wrecked the bathroom

I love any story where the kids look at the reader and give a big knowing wink, because they just took a sled to the North Pole and helped Santa eat a gigantic cake. The End!

But the story's not over because you can get up tomorrow morning and head over to your local Murphy's and load up on six-guns and dollies and everything! Or you could, if G.C. Murphy Co. hadn't been purchased in 1984 by Ames Department Stores which then turned the stores over to McCrory, which finally went out of business in 2001. However, the G.C. Murphy Foundation of former Murphy employees still exists as a charitable organization benefiting Western Pennsylvania, so, yeah! Merry Christmas after all!

And that's it for 2020 for us, gang. What a year, huh? We hope everybody stays safe and well and keeps the hell away from other people for a little while, and we'll see you in 2021!

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