Many people these days are thinking about a traditional Christmas. You know, when it’s -20, snowdrifts up to your frozen earlobes, north wind howling like the Ghost of Christmas Past. This is also known as “excellent tobogganing weather.” None of this wimpy brown Christmas nonsense for us hearty Canadians.
But the reality is, Christmas has gone way beyond the days of a Mandarin orange in the toe of your stocking, a hand-made wooden toy for little Billy, and the crocheted doll clothes that Grandma made for little Jane.
No, we are all shooting headlong down that toboggan hill of progress, roaring over the icy jump of advancing technology and crashing tail over tuque into the snowbank of the new millennium.
What we have, whether we like it or not, is a new age culminating in what some social scientists would like to call “the modern Christmas,” but they don’t because they haven’t applied for a grant to study it yet.
But, you may well ask, just what are some of the telltale signs of the so-called modern Christmas?
Good question. I have taken several moments over hearty holiday beverages to come up with a brief list — there are 12, on account of I haven’t been able to get the 12 Days of Christmas song out of my head for a week.
1. Your mall Santa has a dyed his beard black, has cut his hair in a Mohawk, and has tattoos of the reindeer on his arms.
2. The elves have formed a union that prohibits discrimination on the basis of size. It consists of two Brotherhoods: the Talls and the Smalls.
3. The struggling economy is starting to reach the North Pole. The elves are seriously considering selling reindeer antler extract powder to health food stores and have appointed a committee to research the marketability of reindeer steaks.
4. Like many modern ex-smokers, Santa’s a bit grumpy because he finally quit smoking that pipe of his, and it’s really hard to get a nicotine patch at the North Pole.
5. New air traffic regulations require Rudolph’s nose to flash green and yellow in addition to the current red at all times while airborne. Unfortunately, during preliminary tests Rudolph experienced massive migraine headaches, and had to go lie down.
6. Santa’s list is now created on a word document that automatically formats the names into columns of Naughty and Nice, runs a spell-check, and sorts the gifts by name and global location co-ordinates. And, of course, the software checks it twice.
7. Santa’s sleigh now has airbags. It also has a state-of-the-art GPS — global positioning locator — so that NORAD and other world air forces don’t have to use radar and send fighter jets to monitor his flight path on Christmas Eve.
8. In these modern times, Santa’s bag is nearing the maximum carry-on weight capacity of the sleigh. It’s estimated that this year 92.8 per cent of the Jolly Old Elf’s sack will consist of electronic gadgets such as iPods, Nintendos and other devices that emit coloured flashing lights and loud noises. Rumours are circulating that Santa is seriously considering activating a second sleigh just to carry the necessary batteries.
9. On the advice of the Chief Medical Elf (Doc), Mrs. Claus has enrolled Santa into the Weight Watchers program, has sent him to tai chi sessions on Mondays, and to aquasize classes every Tuesday evening after their weekly crib game.
10. This year, each of the reindeers have registered and copywritten their names, and will now be paid royalties on any unauthorized use of their monikers and likenesses. Filed documents confirm that Donner is in fact Donder and furthermore, that Donder and Blitzen are originally based on German and Dutch words for ‘thunder’ and ‘lightning.’ Proving that Santa’s reindeer are in fact the coolest flying ungulates ever.
11. In 2009, the governmental revenue and taxation agencies of each the G8 countries officially designated the North Pole Santa’s Workshop a Year-round Manufacturing Conglomerate and as such is liable for taxation on every delivery. (It’s called the XST — the Xmas Santa Tax). Santa’s lawyer elves have filed official objection based on the unregistered legal status of Christmas as a non-taxable worldwide time of giving and Mr. Claus’s exemption as a senior citizen.
12. Al Gore is monitoring the eight tiny reindeer (plus Rudolph) for excessive in-flight gaseous emissions that might lead to global warming.
These are but a few illustrations that illustrate the phenomenon of modern Christmas.
I’m sure that Santa has his own thoughts about the subject, which he no doubt Twitters and Blogs on his own website and Facebook page.
But Santa.com notwithstanding, there is good news for traditionalists and romantics alike.
Although Santa now accepts letters to Santa via email, word has it that the Old Fat Fellow has made it clear that no matter how “modern” Christmas becomes, he still prefers snail-mail handwritten letters. Preferably with drawings. In crayon.
Harley Hay is a local filmmaker and freelance writer.