The Meaning Of Christmas


Ever since The Year dot (literally) people have been tying themselves in knots, trying to define the true meaning of Christmas.  And, over the last 2-plus millennia, psychologists, anthropologists, philosophers and editorials have covered a lot of territory – everything from eternal salvation to Amazon Gift Cards.  Good on ya, folks but you ain’t even close.  The true meaning of Christmas … is loot.  That’s right!  Like it or not, admit it or don’t, the harsh reality is Christmas is all about the presents.  Let me explain.

Right from the very beginning — Here we are in Bethlehem.  There’s Mary, Joseph, Jesus in the manger and a couple of sketchy shepherds.  There’s a knock on the door.

“Who’s there?”
“Three Wise Men.”
“What do you want?”
“Nothing.  We brought gifts.”
“Cool!  Come on in.”

And thus, Christmas was born.  Plus the fine tradition of getting useless crap for Christmas (I’m looking at you, myrrh) instead of something Mary and Joseph might actually need – like an extra helping of gold.

Fast forward 2,000 years or so – Here we are visiting Santa Claus.  There’s you (as a little kid); there’s a parent (or two); there’s the photographer, the incessant jingle bell music and a couple of over-happy elves.  You’re not there to discuss the care and feeding of flying reindeer or talk about the weather at the North Pole.  You’re there to negotiate.  You’re there to effect a deal between you and Santa so he’s convinced you’ve been more nice than naughty and therefore deserve your share of the loot.  You know it’s the truth, but it’s no particular sin.  Remember, it was the parents who told you how the system worked.

Add a couple more decades — It’s three days before Christmas.  There’s you (as an adult.)  There’s a couple of your kids, a spouse, maybe a dog.  You’re walking over a crisp blanket of new-fallen snow that crunch, crunch, crunches under your feet.  You can see your breath, and your hands are warm in cozy mittens.  At home, there’s hot chocolate, and Grandma’s making cookies.  The coloured lights from the street twinkle and dance across the early evening, and there’s the faint sound of children singing,

“Oh little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie.
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by.”

It’s the most idyllic scene, out of the most beautiful Christmas card you could ever imagine … and what are you thinking?  Totally stressed, cuz it’s your turn to host the family dinner, you’re thinking, “What the hell am I going to buy Harry/Harriet and Uncle Bob for Christmas?  Screw it!  Amazon Gift Cards.”

I rest my case!

Christmas Trivia 2018

christmas 2

Any Laplander will tell you that all reindeer have antlers.  However, they will also tell you that male reindeer lose their antlers in late November or early December, whereas female reindeer do not lose their antlers until spring.  Therefore, the reindeer that pull Santa’s sleigh are all female – including Rudolph.  There were originally eight reindeer: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen.  Rudolph was added in 1939 when Robert L May created a colouring book for retailer Montgomery Ward to give away at Christmas.  The book told the now familiar story of Rudolph and how he came to guide Santa’s sleigh.  Ten years later, in 1949, Gene Autry had finished colouring all the pictures, so he decided to record a song based on the Rudolph story.  “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was an instant hit, and Rudolph has been around ever since.

“Frosty the Snowman” was written by Jack Rollins and Steve Nelson in 1950, for Gene Autry, who wanted to follow up the success of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” from the previous year.

Originally, there was one other reindeer in Santa’s team pulling the sleigh on Christmas Eve.  Unfortunately he became bitter and belligerent, so Santa had to take appropriate disciplinary action.  His name was Dinner.

The names of The Three Wise Men are Gaspar, Melchoir and Balthasar not Manny, Moe and Jack as some TV ads would lead you to believe.  However, if you want to astound your friends with your Christmas knowledge or win drinks at any pub in the world just ask the question; Which Wise Man brought which gift?  The answer is Melchoir brought gold, Balthasar brought frankincense and Gaspar, who, like most of us left his Christmas shopping to the last minute, brought myrrh (whatever that is.)

The traditional Christmas poinsettia originally came from Mexico.  It was first brought to the United States by Joel Poinsett in the 1820s.  Even after all these years, the name is still almost universally mispronounced.

Although, under various aliases, Santa Claus is claimed by a number of countries he is, in fact, a Canadian citizen.  On December 23rd, 2008, the Canadian government’s Minister of Citizenship, Jason Kenney, declared, “The Government of Canada wishes Santa the very best in his Christmas Eve duties and wants to let him know that, as a Canadian Citizen, he has the automatic right to re-enter Canada once his trip around the world is complete.”

Like most of the cool Christmas traditions, candy canes come from Germany.  They started out, in the late 17th century, as white sticks of candy given to children to keep them quiet during the long and infinitely boring Christmas church services.  Many people believe candy canes are bent so they could hang on the Christmas tree.  Originally, however, the canes were bent to resemble a shepherd’s crook and so calm the objections of stodgy old churchmen who didn’t want kids having candy in church.

If you’re trapped in Dublin at Christmas, “Merry Christmas” in Irish is “Nollaig Shona Dhuit” but I have no idea how to pronounce it.

Oddly enough, Mrs. Claus does not have a first name; nor, for that matter does any of the elves.

Canada was the first country to issue Christmas stamps — in 1898.

Nova Scotia exports more Christmas trees than anywhere else in the world.

The reason that relentless movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, is on TV so much is that television stations don’t have to pay for it.  Apparently, when it was made, there was a mix-up in the contracts, so nobody who worked on the film — including the actors — ever gets residuals.

It is a well-known fact that the stupid “Little Drummer Boy” (who was put on this earth to annoy me) has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas.  The real little drummer boy was a pickpocket and sneak thief who fell in with the Three Wise Men in order to gain their confidence and eventually rob them.  He was already a hardened criminal by that time and had a list of previous offences as long as the Ohio River.  He was caught with his hand in the frankincense jar and sentenced to 10 years’ hard labour — which is exactly what the treacherous little bugger deserved.

Did you know?  There was once a dyslexic devil worshipper who sold his soul to Santa.

Christmas Quotes

“There’s nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child.” – Erma Bombeck
“All Christmas trees are perfect.” – Charles N Barnard
“It’s not the gift, but the thought that counts.” – Henry Van Dyke (Dick and Jerry’s other brother?)
“Christmas is a whispered conspiracy of love.” – Anon
“Nothing is as mean as giving a child something useful for Christmas.” – Kin Hubbard
“Santa is very jolly ‘cause he knows where all the naughty girls live.” – Dennis Miller
“Bah! Humbug!” – Ebenezer Scrooge
“Merry Christmas, Nearly Everybody!” – Ogden Nash

Santa Claus — The Real Story

Santa Claus

Over the years, there has been a ton of misinformation, disinformation and out-and-out lies told about Santa Claus.  Personally, I’m tired of it.  It’s time to set the record straight.  And I’m just the boy that can do it.

First, the myth.  In almost every Christmas book ever written, the story of Santa Claus starts out in some godforsaken town in Turkey.  Apparently, there was a guy there named Nicholas.  He was a priest or something, and he was so generous the Church made him a saint.  Fine!  There are a few scraps of evidence to suggest this might be true.  However, historians have never be able to agree on the where, when, what, why or even the who of this little legend.  In fact, there is no definitive evidence whatsoever that this (or any other) Nicholas has any historical connection to Santa Claus.  Unfortunately, in place of hard evidence, anthropologists and social historians have taken to theorizing that our Santa Claus grew out of this Nicholas story.  They maintain that this local folk hero somehow not only managed to survive the Dark Ages, the Renaissance, the Elizabethans, the Puritans, the Age of Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution, but actually thrived and spread throughout Europe and eventually the world.  What a crock!

Now the truth.  The real story of Santa Claus — based on the facts.  Santa Claus has been around forever.  He’s known by a number of different names — Weihnachtsmann, Father Christmas, Pere Noel etc. etc. — but it’s all the same guy.  He lives at the North Pole with Mrs. Claus, a ton of elves and the reindeer.  He has a big red book with every child’s name in it, and he keeps meticulous track of which ones are naughty and which ones are nice.  All year long, the elves make toys in a gigantic workshop.  Then, once a year, Santa loads up his sleigh, hitches up the reindeer (who can fly – Duh!) and goes around the world, delivering toys to good girls and boys.

How do I know this?  Documented evidence!  Santa Claus has actually been seen – a number of times.  Obviously, there are a bunch of contemporary photographs available, but most of them have not been authenticated.  However, if we look at a few historical accounts from some very well-respected individuals, we can get at the truth – based on factual information.

In 1823, Clement Moore, a professor at Columbia College, woke up on Christmas Eve and witnessed Santa Claus delivering toys to his house.  He wrote a poem about his experience, called ‘Twas the Night before Christmas, which was published in the Sentinel newspaper in Troy, New York.  In that poem, Moore describes Santa quite accurately.  He also describes the reindeer (miraculously remembering Santa’s names for them) and their ability to fly.  There is some controversy over Moore’s account, however, because he describes the scene as “a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer” and goes on to call Santa himself “a right jolly old elf.”  Since we know (from corroborating evidence) that Santa Claus is actually quite a large gentleman, we can only conclude that Clement either didn’t have his glasses on or suffered from an undiagnosed eye ailment.

Santa Claus was next seen by Thomas Nast, sometime in the 1860s.  Nast was a cartoonist and social commentator who gave us, among other things, Uncle Sam, the symbols of both the Republican and Democratic political parties and the term “nasty.”  Obviously, a witness to history like Nast would not let his encounter with Santa Claus go unrecorded.  In the January 3rd, 1863 issue of Harper’s Weekly, Nast drew an illustration of Santa Claus meeting Union troops and passing out gifts during the Civil War.  We know this portrayal to be accurate because Santa Claus appears exactly as Clement Moore described him!  Clearly, these two depictions are of the same person.  Nast seems to have developed a long-term relationship with Santa Claus, because, twenty years later, he drew him again in what looks like a seated portrait.

The next documented sighting of Santa Claus occurred sometime in the late 1920s.  Haddan Sundblom, an advertising artist, clearly met Santa on several occasions and even convinced him to pose for another portrait.  In 1931, Sundblom painted a picture of Santa for an advertisement for the Coca Cola™ Company.  It appeared in the Saturday Evening Post.  And once again, Santa Claus is identical to both previous depictions.  Coincidence?  I think not!  In fact, Sundblom’s image was so universally recognized as Santa Claus that there has never been one suggestion, by schoolboy or scholar, that this is not the real Santa Claus – not one – in the entire world.  If I spoke Latin, I’d say QED!

These are three examples that document the truth about Santa Claus.  But there is one more piece of irrefutable evidence that cannot be denied by even the most cynical among us.  It’s Santa Claus’ home address.

Santa Claus
North Pole
H0H 0H0

So, you don’t have to trust me or the documented facts I have presented.  All you have to do is write to Santa Claus yourself, and I guarantee you he’ll answer.