Claus for alarm

I don’t worry at all that my six-year-old daughter will soon learn that Santa isn’t real. As of Sunday, she still believed him, and this article of faith has been most expensive to her mother and me.

No. That is the least of my worries. Frankly, there are a million other questions about Santa that I dread more.

“Papa, is Santa obsessive-compulsive?” That should be difficult to answer. He makes lists and checks them twice. Normal men don’t make lists, and never check anything twice. Santa, on the other hand, would seem to obsess.

“Papa, wouldn’t you say that Santa has a rather Manichean view of the world?” I would not go so far, my child. But to the extent that he sees everyone in terms of “bad or good” and “naughty or nice”, and acts on the basis of those judgments, let’s just say George W. Bush comes to mind. There is only black or white. The grays don’t get gifts either.

And I will save you the need to ask the question: Yes, my child, it would seem that there are no clear-cut standards of what is “bad” or “good” or “naughty” or “nice”. Santa’s discretionary powers to grant or withhold a bequest do not seem to be, as Justice Cardozo puts it, “canalized within banks to keep them from overflowing”.

Santa Claus, his agents, successors-in-interest and assigns, and all those acting for and in his behalf, such as, but not limited to, Vixen, Blitzen, Pranzer and Dasher, always run the risk of being challenged on the ground of due process.

“Papa, is trespassing illegal in the North Pole?” This is a trick question. This is what lawyers call “laying the predicate”. You know there’ll be a follow-up, and you’ll have to think of a convincing defense for Santa’s rather unconventional means of ingress and egress. “Down the chimney, broad and black, with his pack he’ll creep,” reads rather like the charge sheet in a criminal indictment.

“Papa, under fairly standard stalking laws, wouldn’t Santa be in danger of prosecution?” You would have to clear your throat. How long can you continue defending this man? He sees you when you’re sleeping, and knows when you’re awake. He knows when you’ve been bad or good. He’s a menace, for goodness’ sake.

So you better watch out.

“Papa, why doesn’t Santa outsource his toy-making?” Ah, but, my child, he already uses little people and makes them work round-the-clock, free from scrutiny in the North Pole. Nike and Wal-Mart never had that advantage.

Such difficult questions. You never thought Christmas carols would bring so much anxiety. And not just about Santa, either. It’s the whole Christmas “thingy” that seems to raise so many questions in our kids.

“Deck the halls with boughs of holly/ ‘Tis the season to be jolly,” the song pipes in, innocently enough, or so you thought.

“Papa, did they have Queer Eye for the Straight Guy makeovers in ancient times?” What? Where did this come from?

“Don we now our gay apparel. . .” the song continues.

Hey, kid. We don’t say “gay apparel” anymore. These days, it’s called “metrosexual”.

SunStar Cebu
23 December 2004

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