The idea and feelings behind Christmas change drastically at a few key points throughout your life. Of course, there's the first realization that Santa does not actually exist, and instead your mom and dad are buying the presents -- at the same time, trying to convince you it is instead some big fat man from the North Pole who's sliding down the chimney with a bag full of stuff from the local mall. Some kids just connect the dots as they begin to get older, others find out from "smarter kids" and, well, people like me find out after they get up to go to the bathroom at midnight.

Once the cat is out of the bag, you go through a brief period of time where, instead of harassing Santa through poorly-written letters, you harass your poor parents. A lot of the magic is now gone, and it becomes simply about the gifts. However, once you're old enough to start working, a new kind of pressure emerges -- the kind that quietly whispers in your ear: "Hey kid, you should start getting presents for other people now." Once that happens, Christmas, as you know it, is officially over ...

Soon, a significant other enters the picture and you have to buy them gifts, their family gifts and your family gifts. You begin dividing the holiday up -- you decide to spend a quarter of the day here, a quarter there, a few hours at your friend's house because they have a bar and, well, you desperately need a drink ... or three. You begin debating the commercialism of the holiday and whether or not Jesus would be offended at the thought of a big fat guy who brings presents and doesn't ask you to pray for your sins in return. And finally it all comes full circle -- there will be a moment, a small moment, in which you'll be sitting on some couch with a beer in your hand, an electric shaver on your lap ("Thanks Uncle Ted!") and, in front of you, a little boy or girl will be opening up presents with an unbelievably warm smile on their face ... as if to say, "this is the greatest moment of my life." This is the present you gave them. This is your smile, you own it. Then it all becomes worth it -- the malls, the shopping, the lines, the Christmas cards, the whole what-to-do -- it was all for that smile ... except when you miss that smile because you're too busy stuffing your face full of scrumptious appetizers. Don't you hate when that happens?

Last week, we did the whole Jewish thing -- which means this week is all about Christmas. Let's go watch some shorts ...

  • Holiday Force: Santa vs. The Candy Cane -- In this hysterical cartoon, Santa is huge! He's a muscle-bound monster who barks orders to his elves with a cigar hanging from his mouth. When Santa needs to lay off one of his elves because the little dude freaks everyone out with his large nipples, Nipple Elf looks to the bottle for salvation. However, when he gets into a brawl with the head elf and one of them accidentally falls into a tub full of weird acid (Think: Joker's transformation in the Burton Batman), a new enemy is born -- one that's hell-bent on causing some serious damage. (Note: Foul language contained within.)
  • A Family X-Mas -- Everyone loves Santa -- that's a fact. But, when Santa Clause decides to drop in on a mafia kingpin, he finds himself in a bit over his head. After all, Santa isn't supposed to exist ... and so our mafia guy ties him up in an attempt to figure out who he really is and whether he was sent there to whack someone. I'd like to think of this one as Miracle on 34th Street meets The Sopranos. (Note: Foul language contained within.)
  • Tongue Twister -- Remember in A Christmas Story when all the kids convince Flick to stick his tongue to a pole ("Has anyone seen Flick? Where's Flick?"). Well, luckily Flick manages to get out of it reasonably unharmed, save for having to wrap his tongue in tissue. Unfortunately for the main character in Tongue Twister, he doesn't have the luxury of a crowd of students and a worried teacher. Nope, he's all by himself in the middle of nowhere with a huge snow machine heading right for him. What's a boy to do? Heh, think A Christmas Story meets Saw. Yes, I'm serious.
  • Twas -- One commenter over at Atom Films said you could have simply called this film Credits ... and gotten away with it. While it's true that the credits are longer than the actual short, something about this made me crack up. It appears as if the short was much longer than it is now and the filmmaker simply decided to leave the best parts in. Basically, imagine every child's worst nightmare ... and then stick an obnoxious fat guy in there. That about sums it up.
  • Shivelry -- I'm not sure why they spelled Chivalry wrong on purpose (I expect because it has something to do with being cold and shivering), but after all those wacky shorts that came before it, this one celebrates the real spirit of Christmas -- the selfishness, the giving and the companionship. When one snowman is left out by himself on a cold night, he looks to transform another snowman into a friend by giving it parts of himself in an attempt to bring it to life. Very cute, nice animation and the kind of flick that should give you that warm cuddly feeling before setting off for a weekend full of Christmas-related activities.

As always, if you know of any great shorts you'd like to see featured on a future edition of Eat My Shorts, feel free to send all links, tips and suggestions to shorts AT cinematical DOT com.

Merry Christmas everyone!