Two views: Does Santa Claus exist?
BY JIM TYNEN
It is impossible for Santa Claus to exist — at least in 2008.
Consider first that he and his elves supposedly make toys at a workshop at the North Pole. The unions would howl; the Labor Department would investigate. Do the elves get a coffee, or eggnog, break? Do they have green cards? Do they get overtime pay for that long Christmas Eve overnight shift?
Nor could the government tolerate the obvious discrimination: The Justice Department would force Santa to hire some tall people. OSHA inspectors would nose around. What if an elf slipped in the ice and snow outside? And surely the IRS would demand to see Santa’s records. Maybe he’s trying to use the North Pole as a tax haven. That would at least explain why he’s supposedly so jolly.
The EPA would try to shut down those sleigh flights: Reindeer can’t be good for the atmosphere. The FAA would demand a flight plan. Air Force jets would scramble at the radar images coming over the North Pole. Santa’s sleigh probably wouldn’t get five miles without being shot down.
Joining in the harassment would be big business. Wall Street wouldn’t stand for free toys. Nobody can afford to give all those gifts away, analysts would warn. It must be a scam! Is Bernard Madoff, the alleged Wall Street con man, hiding under that white beard? The SEC would demand a look at Santa’s books.
Speaking of records, there’s one every child dreads. Ominously, Santa is “making a list, checking it twice, gonna find out who’s naughty or nice.” Even more frighteningly, “He knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, he knows if you’ve been bad or good.”
But how does he know? Wiretaps? Informers?
Call the FBI!
Santa is out of date anyway. Every modern person knows “good” and “bad” are obsolete notions. Children can’t help how they behave. They are products of their homes and their schools. Naughty and nice are relics of an outmoded world view.
Santa himself suffers from a seriously dysfunctional attitude. What about his own needs? Look at him. He doesn’t take care of himself. Why, he’s famously described “chubby and plump,” with “round belly that shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.” He needs to lay off the treats and hit the gym.
Which brings up the question of what else he’s been hitting. “His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry.” Sounds like he’s sampled way too much eggnog, and not the kind that’s just milk and eggs.
Plainly, he’s way overstressed. High blood pressure. That garish red suit has to be a cry for attention. Above all, it must be a chore to be known as St. Nicholas. One reason people are named saints only after they are dead is that the burden of being a living one would be crushing. Do one little thing wrong and everyone would be saying, “Oh, sure, you’re a saint! And I’m Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer!”
The psychological toll of being Santa is too much for anyone. Dr. Phil and all the self-help gurus would exhort the old guy to change his lifestyle. “Stop this dangerous, misguided endeavor!” they would tell him. “You need to find the real you, not this Santa Claus!”
He’d do a stint in jail, maybe rehab. Then he would appear on “Oprah.” Clean-shaven and fit, in khakis and a subdued polo shirt, he’d tell the talk-show host, “Just call me Nick!” The audience would applaud lustily when he said that the whole misguided Santa Claus delusion was all behind him. “From now on, I’m going to think of my own needs, and not go out on some hopeless quest to bring joy and happiness to all children everywhere. They’ve got to be responsible for their own happiness!”
And there’s one more sign there’s no St. Nick: He hasn’t shown up on Capitol Hill, begging for a federal bailout. After all, his North Pole workshop, if it makes toys for every child in the world, is plainly “too big to fail.” After all those years of giving away toys, Santa’s balance sheets must be worse than those of the banks and brokerages Uncle Sam has been saving (whether they’ve been good or bad, even). If Santa were out there somewhere, we’d have seen him on CNN, telling senators that if he goes broke, think of all the unhappy boys and girls out there — and of the parents who will vote in the next election.
Let’s face it. There’s just no room in the world today for a magical, joyous figure who dedicates himself wholly to the happiness of others.
At least not one who would be willing to work without billions of dollars in government aid.
• Jim Tynen was editor of the Daily Herald editorial page from 2009-2012. He is currently communications director of the Civitas Institute, a conservative think tank in North Carolina.
BY RANDY WRIGHT
As a journalist, I subscribe to a code of professional ethics that prohibits fabrication of any kind. Journalists go by the rule that if your mother says she loves you, check it out.
And so I was delighted last Saturday when Santa Claus showed up in person to sit for photographs with the children of Daily Herald employees. I was skeptical at first, but then I interviewed him and pulled his beard. It was real!
As a result, I am pleased to report today that, yes, indeed, there is a Santa Claus. We have pictures.
For those who have not had the privilege of a face-to-face interview, other evidence abounds — evidence that has withstood the test of time as well as countless assaults by various grumps, Grinches and Scrooges who would like nothing better than to extinguish the Jolly Old Elf.
Anti-Santa campaigns always rest upon simplistic science, the outdated notions of Newton or Euclid. They ignore Einstein’s relativity theory, in which space and time are not absolute. They brush off the quantum theories of Heisenberg and Bohr, which should keep us all pretty humble about what we think we know.
What is the main evidence presented by Santa doubters? Only that they’ve never seen an elf, which of course is no proof at all. In failing to look beyond limited experience, they join with those who believed the world was flat, that man would never fly, that no human could travel 100 mph and live, and that a Hollywood actor could never be president. They invariably fail to imagine possibilities.
One need only watch a few episodes of Star Trek to awaken to amazing alternatives. But Santa’s detractors take imagination off the table. They evoke young Skywalker of Star Wars, who was told by an exasperated Yoda: “Always with you it cannot be done.”
In short, those who deny the existence of Santa Claus have no imagination, and for that we should extend pity rather than scorn. For a life with such narrow intellectual boundaries must be a dreary life indeed.
Oddly, many who reject Santa Claus assert their firm belief in other supernatural beings — gods and angels with unlimited powers who are sympathetic to the needs of mortals. They even argue that amazing powers may be delegated to humans. Thus they destroy their own argument and make Santa at least a theoretical possibility.
Beyond rhetoric, however, is concrete evidence for the existence of Santa Claus. We know he exists because we can see the results of his work. Each Christmas, when I survey the gifts that magically appeared during the night, I am flooded with gratitude, for I know my puny efforts could never have provided them. I cannot deny that unseen forces work on behalf of earth-bound people — especially children.
Of course, good children know that if you stop believing in Santa Claus, he stops coming. And this should be a warning to parents everywhere: You can get all that stuff for free if only you believe; if you don’t, you have to pay for it. This is the great lesson of giving. Don’t keep accounts. Once liberated from the accounting ledger, a person becomes free to believe in miracles.
Now, we admit that Santa requires many helpers or agents. After all, being Santa is a big job. But the existence of agents only confirms the existence of the boss. In business, an agent may act on behalf of an individual, and the effect is the same as if the individual had acted for himself. It’s this way at Christmas, when magic happens in homes around the world. Whether it’s through Santa himself or one of his agents, Santa is the force behind it all. He is the spirit of Christmas, and in that realm anything is possible.
Second only to my photographic evidence for Santa are the words of my young daughter who in innocent wisdom once said: “I know there’s a Santa Claus because my parents are too cheap to buy all these presents.”
• Randy Wright is executive editor of the Daily Herald. His regular Tuesday column, “Late Copy,” will return next week.