Dear That Guy Who Sometimes Writes Legal Stuff For The Paper—
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, "If you see it in The Standard, it's so." Please tell me the truth: is there a Santa Claus?
25th Street Presidential Blvd.
I hate to tell you this, but your friends are pretty accurate and a little math will show you why: Imagine it takes just five seconds to eat a cookie and drink a glass of milk. Five seconds is fast for this task, but I’ve seen a couple of my brothers pull it off (it wasn’t pretty). Eliminating any travel time, putting down presents, restroom breaks (that’s a lot of cookies and milk), and giving Santa the benefit of all time zones so he has a full 24 hours for all his stops, Santa will be able to eat the cookies of only 17,280 kids, which doesn’t even cover our paper’s distribution, let alone the whole world. (For the math impaired: At five seconds, that is 12 cookies a minute times 1,440 minutes in a day.) This isn’t skepticism Virginia, this is multiplication.
Virginia, you live in a world where Christmas, like the law, has become all about the money. It is like the Supreme Court decided in Citizens for Christmas United that free speech meant that every store has to start hawking Christmas before Halloween. And heaven (hell?) forbid if you aren’t Christmassy enough. I’m probably going to get written up for desecrating this pagan symbol of this Christian holiday. Just so you know, Virginia, Thor and Santa Claus are both descendants of Odin.
In this great universe of ours, humanity may be mere insects, ant-like in our intellect as compared with the boundless worlds around us or as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge, but we should at least be bright enough to know that Santa is, at best, a fictional symbol of charity. Fortunately, charity suffereth long and is kind, so Santa won’t be upset that I’m dissing on him, primarily because he doesn’t exist.
Frankly Virginia, I’m tired of all of these “Believe” memes I see plastered on cards, ornaments and FaceBook. Belief and a donut will get you a donut. Christmas, again like our laws, requires much more than mere belief. If we are going to rely on belief or demagogues or political parties or anyone else to improve our world, then our stockings, regardless of the belief with which they are hung, will remain empty.
Christmas and the illusion that is Santa Claus doesn’t work without community cooperation and action. If your mommy and daddy didn’t scramble and scrimp and save to put stuff under the tree, then you benefitted from other kind souls in your community, not some giant mythical elf. The same could be said for our laws. You want great laws that help everyone and yourself, you have to do something about it and running around saying “I Believe” is a waste of time when there is so much work to do, so many people wanting and struggling.
Virginia, tear the veneer off of Santa Claus and look inside. What is it? Justice, ultimately. Were you naughty or nice? Santa will bang his gavel and his NSA Elves on the Shelves will keep an eye out on you -- with or without a warrant. Justice may not be easily visible, but it is real. And even at eight years old, you’ve got a pretty good idea of what is fair and what isn’t. We humans have that knack and it is inherent in our species. We just spend too much time worrying about our own self-interests and what we will get for Christmas to actually look at what is going on around us.
So Virginia, stop worrying if Santa is real. He isn’t. Stop protecting your childish beliefs about how the world works and start worrying about someone besides yourself. If you are old enough to read this in the Standard, then you are old enough to begin worrying about other people's well-being.
And that is the irony Virginia. If we all stopped believing in Santa Claus and started acting like him instead, then we wouldn’t need to “believe,” because the world would become just a little more just and maybe we would finally answer the plaintive cry of the bells on Christmas day for Peace on Earth, Goodwill Toward All.