Monday, December 24, 2007

Yes, Virginia, there is an obese Santa Claus

Everyone knows Santa Claus is supposed to be fat. It's not possible for one man to eat 5 billion or so sugar cookies on the night before Christmas and be anything but a butterball. Furthermore, if he weren't fat, then we'd know he wasn't eating the cookies, and that would raise all sorts of other doubts. We thought everyone understood and accepted this logic.

But now the British say Santa's corpulence isn't cute, it's a health hazard, an apple-shaped advertisement for Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. After a study released in October found that, by 2050, more than half of Britain's population will be obese, a cabal of fitness zealots at malls and shops in Merry Olde England decreed that their Santas must be trim. That's right -- skinny Santas, buff Santas and, we tremble to think of it, Santas with six-pack abs. According to news reports, a shopping center in Kent even set up a boot camp for Santas who couldn't slim down on their own.

How could this happen? Didn't England unload all of its joyless Puritans in the 17th century? Has there been some vast repatriation we failed to notice? Is it possible that the eternally erroneous Bill O'Reilly is actually correct, and Christmas is under siege?
No, it's not. The celebration of Christmas is alive and well, regardless of the propaganda aimed at making Christians at large believe they are an oppressed minority.

This LA Times editorial reminds me of the famous "Yes, Virginia," the most reprinted editorial in history:

VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

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