I’ve never been much of a one for the festive season. I’ve gone through stages of utter indifference to active dislike of the over-hyping of what is effectively just another day of the year. The Christianisation of several different Pagan holidays and traditions for their own agenda irks me as much as the next rational person and the flagrant commercialisation of the holiday period is frustrating. Despite all of this, there is one aspect of Christmas that i can’t seem to shake. It tugs at me in the pit of my stomach and just makes me feel happy. Maybe I’m just getting sentimental in my old age. Either way. Enter Santa Claus.
Father Christmas, Santa, St. Nicholas, call him what you will. I find it utterly astounding that to some degree, near enough the entire world colludes in a collective lie regarding the origin of the gifts that our children receive. This omnipresent, omniscient (and omnipotent?!) semi-deity is a treasure of our humanity that speaks directly to our need for a little magic in our lives. Although his many different interpretations have proven the generation of so many god-awful films (I’m looking at you Tim Allen), tacky merchandise and shitty costumes, there something about appearance of jolly of Saint Nick that makes me feel fuzzy on the inside. This leaves me entirely torn: it frustrates me to no end and yet, i love it.
All I can say is, long may this quite frankly ridiculous tradition continue. He is used to coerce children into good behaviour on the basis of material reward, which is an awful message to be sending, but by Jove, he makes me happy. I’m sincerely glad that the folks at Coca-Cola decided to make the big man a marketing force. What a decision that has turned out to be. I’ll leave you with one of my favourite presentations of Mr Claus; this is a staple of any self-respecting Christmas ritual:
Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!
“Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.
His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”