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Originally posted on December 24, 2012 at 12:30 PM

Well tonight’s the night and NORAD makes it official. Santa has 24 hours to visit something like one billion homes, some of them Down Under and in South America where it’s summertime now. There’ve been some cute items on NPR lately, an interview with United Postal Service administrators concerning the size Santa’s organization must be to transport and eviler so many parcels. Another item was a physicist asserting that Santa must use wormholes to reach our houses as even travel at the speed of light couldn’t get him everywhere fast enough to get the job done in one day.

I think I was pretty young when I decided that it just wasn’t on to visit all of the houses in one night for one man no matter how magic. I hadn’t thought yet of parallel time lines allowing a person to loop back in time and perform a lot of things simultaneously but I’d heard of Santa’s helpers and had pretty much decided that there was a large crew of sleighs out there in the Christmas Eve sky going down chimneys and bringing cheer. When it came time to bring our daughter somewhat out of the open-eyed fantasy of childhood and a bit at least into the Adult Conspiracy we told her that Santa was very very busy and we needed to help Santa do some of his work so we delivered presents to certain neighbors. Later at a feminist gathering in Seattle we learned of Ms. Claus and how she was about bringing food, clothing and feminist literature to deserving children large and small.

However we imagine it happening and however we picture the personage himself, don’t we all still believe at some level in Santa and if someone comes to our house, down our chimney, through our window, out of our closet, however he gets there, that we were singled out to have a visit from the Real Santa?

It’s been said that Santa doesn’t come to poor people’s houses. Jesus does. That’s a fine sentiment in it’s way but I’ve known Santa to visit the homes of Jewish, Budhist, Islamic children- in a secular way perhaps, but bringing joy all the same. Christmas is overcommercialized. Of course it is. We’ve known that for decades but there is still magic in Santa, in those gifts that are small, nearly incidental, yet having the ability to charm as much as the big-ticket items.

I gave my friend a pack of modeling clay in Seventh grade and we spent hours making things together, two blind kids sort of coloring together in a way but shaping rather than crayoning. When I was much, much older I got one of those bendy rubber animals which you can pose. Mine was a bull I believe. My daughter and I spent I don’t know how long doing the most non PC things to that poor bovine that we could think of; having it take a poop, thumb it’s nose, anything a child and an often childlike adult could imagine.

Yes, Santa is out there. We all know him/her but Santa’s a busy person and can always use the help. Try sneaking a crate of Manderins onto your neighbor’s stoop or mailing an anonymous package of Anything to someone you hardly know. Use the address of the corner store of local tavern as return. Buy a kid a gyroscope. Learn how to make butterscotch. It can be secular as hell but still magic. It really is better to give than to receive because generally it’s more fun but we need to know how to receive and that’s really what Santa is all about.