Little-Known Santa No. 24
As the midday sun of a mild spring day peeks down upon the patchily wooded slopes of the Catskills, melting snow drops from the boughs of stately evergreens. We note that what at first appeared to be merely another stretch of drifted snow is in fact underlain by something unexpected and colorful. More snow cover slowly melts and falls away. That colorful something is increasingly revealed to us. It is Little-Known Santa No. 24, hunkered down and snoozing beneath a deep, but diminishing, blanket of white!
He is most certainly and quite obviously enjoying the deep and peaceful sleep of a hibernating old elf! It must be Rip Van Kringle! And who could blame this elder gent for lying down among the leaves and acorn hulls and fallen needles for a slumber of decades’ extent?
Have you ever tried to keep just one, or two, or perhaps three children satisfied with the various laboriously-acquired spoils spilling out from beneath the family tree on the morn of the 25th of December? You have? Well, just take that effort — and all of its attendant anxiety, frustration, regret, recrimination, psychic and fiscal toll — and imagine multiplying it to a billion-fold children the world over! Wouldn’t be so easy, would it? Or easy on you, either.
Or, forget about all that requisite early a.m. gift-giving for the moment, and focus instead merely on soaring through the crisp and star-studded wintry sky behind a team of leaping antlered quadrupeds. Sounds like it might be pretty enjoyable and exhilarating, doesn’t it? That is, until you realize that to manage to make it to each of the planet’s 1.5 billion or so households on just that one special day of the year would require you to zip along at around 600 times the speed of the space shuttle!
And let’s not even get into that whole descending-down-the-chimney thing! I’m not aware of too many chimney flues sized to accommodate anyone in a 46-long Santa suit. And perhaps you’d like to discuss with Mrs. Kringle the finer points of removing fireplace soot from red velvet and white ermine trim?
Consider, if you’d rather, the remaining 364 days of each year, when you’d be able to retreat to your cozy quarters at the North Pole. Where it can often reach 60 or 70 or even 80 degrees below zero (without even bothering to factor in the wicked wind chill). Where seal blubber is considered a delicacy — no lie. Where the nearest guy’s bar serving longnecks happens to be in Spitsbergen, hundreds of miles south across the horizon. Where everyone’s color scheme is white. Where cable reception sucks. Where the daily production schedule of wagons and dolls and chemistry sets and cameras and neckties and candles and flatscreens would make even a Singaporean sweatshop tyrant blanch. Where the sounds of several thousand midgets in matching green leotards singing (many off key) the fourteenth chorus of “Good King Wenceslas” have long surpassed fingernails on blackboard and are moving on toward dentist’s drill hitting primary nerve.
It’d be enough to make you want to zonk out for a couple dozen years, too!
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