Cartoons: Merry Christmas!

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Mall santa visits a doctor's office with a bell in his eye.
“…And when did you first notice this ringing in your ear, Mr. Wallace?”
Tom Henderson
December 19, 1959


Husband finds a stack of Christmas cards in his coat pocket.
“Well, what do you know!…Isn’t that a scream? Haven’t mailed last year’s Christmas cards yet!”
Walt Wetterberg
November 24, 1951


Family gifts their father a snow shovel for Christmas
“Now, children, let’s all watch daddy open his present.”
December 22, 1951


Soot-covered boy scrambles from a fireplace, after having inspected the chimney to see if Santa will fit through the passage.
“He’ll probably make it, but it’ll be an awful tight squeeze.”
Roy Fox
December 20, 1958


Boy tells his sister that he is going outside to meet Santa Claus on the roof.
“I’d better make it person to person. He may be outside tending to his reindeer.”
December 12, 1959


A mall Santa shaving, while his fake beard rests on the counter.
Cpl. Barney Tobey
December 16, 1944


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Rockwell Paints an Unexpected Christmas Discovery

For Christmas of 1956, Rockwell captured a moment of truth in a young boy’s life. While snooping in his parent’s bedroom, he comes across a familiar suit and puts two and two together. The result is an expression of shock and disillusionment that Rockwell made so vivid, you can feel it rising from the page.

But Rockwell wasn’t content to present just a comic scene. He filled the frame with details to build atmosphere and reward close attention.

Note how he captured the wood grain of the dresser — the nicks, dings, and stains that make a piece of furniture almost a member of the family. Then there’s the twine that secured the box with Dad’s suit and beard and the mothballs that have rolled across the carpet. Rockwell even went to the effort of including the open door through which junior snuck in, the stair rails beyond, even a glimpse of the house next door — details only a dedicated artist would include.

Rockwell’s model, Scott Ingram, became a minor celebrity for his expression of wide-eyed surprise. Being the figure on a Rockwell cover, he said, changed his life. He received fan mail, and was asked to autograph pictures and books. He even appeared on TV with Rockwell on the Hallmark Hall of Fame. He fondly remembered the milkshakes he received at the end of each session.

A shocked little boy finding his parent's Santa Claus outfit in their dresser.
The truth, at last: After years of painting Santa Claus, Rockwell offered this scene of startled discovery for his final Post Christmas cover.

Christmas Presence

There comes a time in every kid’s life when that dark question arises: Is Santa Claus real or just a four-ply fraud, like Pinocchio or Reddy Kilowatt?

At the age of 8, I’d already uncovered some pretty damaging evidence for the tall-tale theory. First of all, I never noticed an actual chimney on any of the Mathews flats on Putnam Avenue, just those tiny vent stack things that O’Reilly the plumber said had something to do with the “sanitary facilities.” No way! Besides, I was a rotten kid but got presents galore anyway.

Also, a lot of the stuff was marked “Made in Occupied Japan.” Had Santa ditched his elves and gone offshore to save a few bucks? It was an academic question, though. My heart was set on something the fat man in the red suit probably didn’t have in stock anyway.

Could any ordinary gift top TeeVee Time’s Deluxe 65-piece Unbreakable Plastic Outer Space Figure Play Set? I thought not! The best is the enemy of the good, and this was a true classic. Oh, rapture! I shamelessly dreamed of thwarting the miscreant, bird-beaked Venusians’ plans to conquer Earth; yearned to command a platoon of green reptilian Martians with their little Woody Woodpecker topknots; and longed to decipher cosmic secrets held by the bulgy-eyed purple Jovians, who bore an odd resemblance to Mr. Cardelli down at the laundromat.

The set came free with a new television, but I doubted Santa would mess with that. Did they even have TV at the North Pole? In Occupied Japan? Should I write to the Big Guy directly and plead my case? Probably not. Old Mr. Nagelpilz down the hall said it was common knowledge that the Post Office carted off “Santa Claus letters” straight from Brooklyn to some shredding graveyard in Manhattan. Morons!

All wasn’t lost, though. Mrs. Geiger, who taught third grade at P.S. 13, had latched onto one of the prized play sets up on Fresh Pond Road at the questionably named Bargains Galore Appliance Store owned by one Ernie “How can I make a dime when I hand out deals like this?” Papadakis.

Turned out our beloved teacher didn’t even want this gem now in her possession; she was going to give it away! But there was a catch.

“This will be given to whomever brings the most interesting item to show-and-tell on Friday,” Mrs. Geiger said sweetly. “Try to select something that will appeal to everyone.” That was it! I’d bring the fake shrunken head that the Old Man had ordered from the Johnson Smith catalogue. Why, Uncle Henry nearly lost his upper plate when I hid it in the medicine cabinet last month! How could I lose?

When the big day arrived, I was more confident than ever. Mrs. Geiger’s little dog and pony show had attracted some pretty feeble competition. Cara Duffy dragged in some boring dolls’ clothes she’d sewn, the McSween brothers brought a corroded Zippo lighter their uncle supposedly carried at Guadalcanal, and Jimmy Elgin’s entry was a dorky bag of marbles. Mrs. Geiger smiled politely.

Now it was my turn! Aiming for a dramatic theatrical effect, I yanked the shrunken head from its genuine Carpathian oak carrying case and plopped it straight onto Charlotte Cernik’s desk. Charlotte wailed like a banshee, flailing her arms and sending the “precious” Elgin Marble Collection flying.

Mrs. Geiger wasn’t the least bit amused. “William,” she said icily, “that was not a suitable item for show-and-tell. Please collect all the marbles and return them to Jimmy.” There must have been a thousand marbles; it took a half-hour to police them up.

Even worse, Danny “Mr. Know-It-All” Squadron had charmed the prize of a lifetime from Mrs. Geiger with some crummy seashells he’d collected at his grandfather’s place in Florida. Danny’s pockets were filled with shells, and Mrs. Geiger fawned all over him as he parceled them out to the kids in class. “Oh, how lovely and colorful,” she gushed. “Thank you for sharing them with us.” Gag!

Phooey on seashells! Phooey on Florida! And especially phooey on Danny Squadron!

When school let out, I encountered my newfound enemy slurping down a chocolate egg cream at Goldie’s candy store. I wanted nothing more than to make him feel like a complete worm’s turd.

“You know, Squadron, I really wanted that outer space set,” I said, venom dripping from each word. “I guess at least you’ll have a merry Christmas.”

He looked at me oddly. “We don’t celebrate Christmas at my house.” What? I’d never heard of such a thing. I trolled the depths of my legendary reservoir of tactfulness to hook just the right reply. “Boy!” I sniffed,” that’s about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard!”

A smile flickered across my classmate’s face, but I barely noticed. I could think of nothing but the treasure box cradled under his arm. “Billy, you know I —” he started to say. But I held up the palm of my hand. “I’d better get going now. I might have to write that letter after all.”

It snowed Christmas morning, and “Santa Claus” was good to all of us. My mother was delighted with her new book, “Potato Salad Recipes from Around the World,” and the Old Man got his wish, too: a gallon of his favorite aluminum radiator paint and a new brush to go with it. He turned to my mother with a big smile. “Oh, hon, it’s natural bristle! You shouldn’t have!”

As for me, a Chemcraft set filled with containers of evil-looking powders and liquids filled the bill perfectly — almost. “Merry Christmas, Billy!” the Old Man laughed. “Just don’t blow up the house.”

I was checking out a vial of sodium ferrocyanide — which sounded a lot more promising than it turned out to be — when there was a loud knock at the door. I thought it might be the D’Angelos with their stupid dog in a Christmas hat. But the front stoop was bare — except for a box wrapped in plain brown paper, and a set of footprints headed toward Knickerbocker Avenue.

Could it be? Yes! I tore the wrapping paper to shreds, and there it was — the TeeVee Time Deluxe 65-piece Unbreakable Plastic Outer Space Figure Play Set in all its Technicolor glory! But how did it get there?

As I turned to go back inside, something crunched under my heel, something hard and brittle like a Christmas ornament. I poked my finger into the snow and retrieved not a broken ornament but a yellow-orange seashell crushed to bits. What the … ? I toyed with the tiny shards for a moment, then pitched them back into the snow. Suddenly, it was all very clear. Not every holiday spirit had a white beard or slid down chimneys. Hot dog!

“Honey, you’re letting out all the heat!” my mother yelled from the kitchen. “Who was at the door?”

“I’m not sure,” I yelled back. “But I think it was Santa Claus.”

Cartoons: Black Friday Funnies

We’ve learned that if you’re about to throw yourself into the midst of holiday shopping chaos, you better have your sense of humor with you at all times. Here are some of our holiday cartoon favorites dating back to the 1920s.


Father’s Idea of Santa Claus
C.H. Forbell
December 16, 1922


Santa Claus: What Do You Want for Christmas, My Little Man? A Sled?
Bobbie: Naw, I Want a Thermocoupled Milliammeter and a Supersynchronous Rectifier for My Radio Transmitting Set
Clark DeBall
December 11, 1926


Have you anything that doesn’t always end up in a fight?
December 28, 1940


“Mom, will you remind me when it’s time to start being a good boy?”
Jack Carr
December 1943


Couldn’t you manage to look a little more festive? Cavalli December 14, 1957


“Sixth floor—toys, Santa Claus, pandemonium.” 
December 1961
Rondo Fox


“…And here’s our own Liz Rafferty, just back from the stores with a few last-minute shopping suggestions.”
December 1993


“Yeah, the Christmas stuff looks a little picked over.”
December 2003