This Christmas, we are facing a crisis. And, the situation is worse in California than it is in Florida, Philadelphia, or Peoria. The problem has to do with the division of our nation into time zones.
Ordinarily, running on a different clock only results in delays in the reporting of national election results or having to get up at the crack of dawn to place orders on the New York Stock Exchange. But, the current circumstance involves the delivery of Christmas gifts. This year, there may be none.
We can blame this catastrophe on the fact that the earth spins counterclockwise. But, there’s nothing we can do about that. On the other hand, we can place the blame for this year’s dilemma squarely where it belongs: on the National Football League. You see, the “powers that be” scheduled 12 (count ’em, 12) games to be played on Christmas Eve. Now, in and of itself, this shouldn’t be a problem, but it happens that Santa is an inveterate football fan. However, that’s not the whole story.
Legend, probably propagated by the Germans, holds that Santa Claus hails from northern Europe. Not true. Santa is actually a Californian. He used to operate out of a garage in Palo Alto, but an unfavorable business climate in the Golden State forced him to move his headquarters to the North Pole. In spite of the fact that he now resides at 90 degrees North Latitude, his roots in California are so deep that they hold the state together when the evil San Andreas tries to pull our land apart.
Because of his loyalty to our state, he has always been a fan of the San Diego Chargers, the Los Angeles Rams (although he was a bit miffed when they moved to St. Louis for a while), the San Francisco Forty-Niners, and the Oakland Raiders (who started eyeing Las Vegas, once they were winning again). And, all four teams play on Christmas Eve!
Therefore, Santa — who prides himself on never missing a California game — will probably only make a few quick trips to deliver goodies to Eskimo and Scandinavian children during half times and those seemingly endless interruptions when the “girl commentator” interviews some interior lineman who is taking a break and doesn’t even know which team is ahead.
Moreover, no game will start before 1 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (4 p.m. on the West Coast). Three games will begin shortly after 4 p.m. EST (7 p.m. PST), and the Bengals will enter into battle against the Texans as our clocks in California approach midnight. We can assume that game will not end until sometime after 3:00 a.m., and then Santa will need a pit stop after consuming at least one and a half six packs, along with some libation of possible Caribbean origin.
By then, the sun will be approaching the eastern horizon in New Hampshire. So, even if Santa could visit all of the European, African, Asian, and Australian kids in a couple of hours, he still couldn’t possibly cover the U.S. in time to avoid disappointing all good little girls and boys. At least by our reckn’in.
Then, there’s the additional problem of reindeer fatigue. Maybe Santa has boundless energy and stamina, but his caribou don’t. Unlike the boss, they’re not the supernatural creatures that people have assumed them to be. In fact, Santa goes through reindeer the way that the Kardashians go through photo ops.
It is a little known fact that the originals — Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen — who were featured in the 1823 poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” have been in the great caribou corral in the sky for nearly two centuries. Also, unlike the head honcho, the reindeer get tired. But, it’s likely that Santa has several teams of reindeer that share the burden of circling the globe.
Literature, music, movies, and television have made reference to other reindeer, part of the fleet that Santa maintains. In 1971, Cheech and Chong recorded “Santa Claus and His Old Lady,” in which they mention Chuy, Tavo, and Beto. We can update that with Kareem, Tupac, Beyoncé, Rihanna, LaToya, and Kayne.
A 1998 movie introduced Mitzi, who was supposedly Blitzen’s wife. It also featured Zoey and Arrow, the latter being Cupid’s son. “The Santa Clause 2,” released in 2002, shows Chet, a young “reindeer in training.” Also that year, the kids in “South Park” discussed Steven, Flufffy, Horace, Chantel, Skippy, Rainbow, Patches, and Montel.
We know that Santa is always politically correct, so there must have been a few reindeer who haven’t yet made it to a CD, theater screen, or printed page. For example, I suspect that there must have been a team organized to celebrate 1975, “The International Year of the Woman” when the National Organization of Women was formed. It might have been composed of Gloria, Betty, Barbra, Madonna, Rosie, Geena, and Peaches. And, of all people, Santa would be conscious of our carbon footprint, so he’d have Insight, Prius, Escape, Volt, Fusion, and Leaf.
In an age where mere mortals can launch a spacecraft past Pluto, formerly the furthest planet from the Sun, or manufacture automobiles that drive themselves, or build iPhones that can control weather conditions over Mongolia, it is not unreasonable to believe that Santa can complete his run before we all awake from the sugar-plum nightmare. After all, when mathematic logic fails, there is always hope.
Sleigh bells ring. Are you list’ning’? Down the lane, snow is glist’ning. And, plowing through the snow is a huge red vehicle, loaded with toys and other goodies. If you can’t see it right away, squint your eyes a bit. Concentrate, and you can even make out a jolly old driver in a bright crimson suit. Your nose will detect a hint of rum-laced eggnog on his breath. And, as the muscles around your eyes begin to tire and your vision starts to blur, you’ll still be able to use your ears to hear him exclaim, ‘ere he fades out of sight, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good morning.”
Yeah, I know it doesn’t rhyme, but good poems usually don’t. Neither do great endings.
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Jim Glynn can be found mumbling “Bah, Humbug” next to any Salvation Army kettle. He can also be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.