In the aftermath of the tragedy in Connecticut, all citizens have raised their awareness of their safety and surroundings. Yet, somewhere on Christmas Eve, anywhere really, we allow some man in a red suit to enter our homes. Furthermore, we also welcome him with homemade cookies and a glass of milk. But how much do we really know about this man? He started visiting me when I was a little boy, back in the Fresno area. I assume he has remained ageless through the years, since he looks the same now as he did back then!
Santa Claus has been known by many names, such as Saint Nicholas, Kris Kringle, Father Christmas, and just plain Santa. He has been legendary, mythical, historic, and folkloric, some at the same time. And he is ubiquitous. Going back to the Christianization of Germanic (of course) Europe, his origins may have started with Odin, a god associated with the pre-Christian midwinter events of Yule and the Wild Hunt. The more modern figure of today’s Santa Claus comes from the Dutch figure, Sinterklaas.
But why is Santa so portly, joyous, white-bearded, and bespectacled? And why is he dressed in red, with white-collar and cuffs? How about the trendy black boots and belt? This image became popular here in the United States and Canada due to an 1823 poem called, “A Visit from St. Nicholas” by Clement Clarke Moore, and the caricaturist and cartoonist, Thomas Nast.
The tradition that Santa lives in the North Pole did not begin until the 1820s. This also marked the appearance of a large number of magical elves, and nine (originally eight) flying reindeer, no doubt the creation of a Sci-Fi writer on LSD. The 1934 song, “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” marked the beginning of “keeping a list and checking it twice.” Around this time, the gifts of toys and candy to well-behaved children started, along with the lump of coal for the naughty children (adults too I hope).
Now, to think that nine magical flying reindeer and a sleigh loaded with gifts for almost a billion people must be the work of a mad man or woman. The speed with which he must travel must reach supersonic speeds, along with a state of the art radar system to find the correct homes. I hear he gets some assistance from both NORAD and the Strategic Air Command. They say his main distribution center is almost 4,000,000 square feet. The elves have increased productivity by 12% over the last three years, I am told. The sacks that he uses to carry gifts and candy are made of a very thin, high-tech, and aerodynamic material, called, of course, Claus-tex, from the makers of Gore-tex and TexMex.
Santa will not be carrying a gun. He has not experienced any labor problems since 1981 (the year my son was born) when he rejected the demands of PETCO (Professional Elves Toy-Making and Craft Organization). The elves wanted higher wages, a hot tub in the break room, and “short broads.” I assume they solved this problem, since we will need elves into perpetuity.
Over the years, many countries and organizations have suggested a new home base for Mr. Claus, hoping for greater efficiency. But tradition has always prevailed, including his appearance in Christmas parades around the world. This tradition began in 1890, in Brockton, Massachusetts, not far from Salem. The photo with Santa tradition started in 1918, when cameras were using film, I think. We were always a little afraid of this white-bearded old man, since few people had beards back when I was a kid.
For me, the 1947 film, “Miracle on 34th Street” is proof enough that this man is real. Since the post office rarely delivers mail to the wrong person or address, the accuracy of the film is beyond reproach. Most children seem to know that the mall and parade Santas are just trying to help the Old Man. Of course, he went by Kris Kringle in that particular movie. Though he has many aliases, and seems to lose and gain weight with the times, I think it would be safe for him to enter your homes.
France’s postal system receives the most letters for Santa, numbering over 1.2 million. Must be their rude behavior that requires a letter to Santa! For those of you who need to know, his mailing address is: 4141 Postmark Drive, Anchorage, Alaska 99520. I assume it goes the rest of the way via a generous bush pilot, or a flock of a million carrier pigeons. I do not have his cell phone number, YET. He is also on both Twitter and Facebook, but his email (SantaClaus@yahoo.com) inbox is FULL!
The milk and cookies tradition started when some overworked homemaker burned an entire batch of chocolate chip cookies. Since her children were so naughty, they suggested leaving them for Santa, along with some curdled milk. Just kidding! But I prefer Australia and Britain, where they leave sherry or beer for Santa. Some children leave carrots for Santa’s reindeer.
Rudolph does need to periodically recharge his nose, not with an electrical outlet, but by the high-tech solar blanket on his back. In this regard, the other reindeer are a little bit pissed off, since the blanket also provides warmth that is badly needed at warp speed through the heavens. Of course, the Puritans and Calvinists have always condemned Christmas. But the famous words, of Santa, “Ho, Ho, Ho!” have been misinterpreted over the years, particularly in places like Amsterdam, Las Vegas, and the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles.
But lo and behold, Forbes in their Fifteen Fictional, has listed Santa as the richest character in the world, with a net worth in excess of a billion dollars. I can only hope that he will work with Warren Buffett and Bill Gates to assist their wonderful philanthropic causes world-wide.
So, yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, somewhere, somehow. Just keep the tradition going!!!