Henrietta Hay Coloumn December 19, 2008

Analyzing Santa’s efforts for a Merry Christmas

“OK, Henrietta.  Make up your mind.  What kind of a Christmas column do you want to write?”

I keep hearing that persistent little voice in my head as I relax peacefully on the couch with Mercury snoring in my lap.

Shall I do a serious one, something on the history of Christmas myths? No, this is no time to get historical.

How about gooey and nostalgic? Nah. Let Kathleen Parker do that one.

Or would I like to keep it simple, and just sit down in front of the computer and see what happens?

Hey, that sounds more like my style.

Here in the Commons we have beautiful decorations all over, including a huge Christmas tree.

When our newsletter came out, it listed a whole page of activities for us.  The staff is especially festive and one R.A. has even been wearing antlers. I think she is Dancer.

I am more the “Bah, humbug!” type as the season approaches. But as the big day gets closer I get more enthusiastic. I was glad when my friend bought over the 3-foot Santa who stands outside my door, the wreath for the door and the ceramic tree on my table. The tree is about 12 inches high, just the right size. I gave up full-size one — real or artificial — long ago.

Santa Claus is very much in evidence. I have often wondered just how he and his reindeer managed the sizable load they carry each year, so I sat down and figured it out.  Well, no, I didn’t do the math, but somebody did.

Assuming one small toy per kid, the payload on Santa’s sleigh would be roughly 321,300 tons, plus Santa, who is slightly overweight. Eating 4 million cookies in one night will do that to you.

Donder and Blitzen and their fellow reindeer can’t carry the load any more, since they are now over 150 years old.

It would take 214,200 physically fit reindeer to do the job.

These figures assume only one Santa Claus.

A thousand Santas (a megasanta) working in parallel could do the job. Santa is not dead. He is distributed.

Incidentally, whoever named Donder and Blitzen goofed. They should have consulted Sarah Palin. The reindeer should not have masculine names. Most males shed their antlers in the fall.

Females keep theirs until their babies are born in the spring. So they need to be named Donderetta and – well, you can name the others.

We should have known this, since they were able to find their way.

But whether there was one Santa or a megasanta, the story has more versions than the toys in one sleigh.

Christmas was not celebrated and Santa Claus was not around in Colonial New England. Our ancestors were a bit stuffy about the lighter side of the day. The Puritans actually passed an anti-Christmas law back in 1659 but repealed it in 1681.

I was glad to find my parents were born shortly after Christmas was made legal by Congress in 1875. I want to believe they knew Santa Claus as children.

Here is one version of a favorite story of old Santa.

“Twas the nocturnal segment of the diurnal period preceding the annual yuletide celebration, and throughout our place of residence, kinetic activity was not in evidence among the
Musmusculus.”

This is what happens when I sit down at the computer and see what emerges.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays to all of you.  Mercury says, “Me too.”

Henrietta can be reached by e-mail at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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