Saturday evening I was accused of stalking, which probably happens to reporters from time to time, especially if a source is not all that keen on being a source.
But this stalking comment came from none other than Santa Claus, which hurt a little. I believe Santa made the comment in jest, or at least I hope he did — Santa is known for his keen sense of humor, ho, ho, ho, and all that — but the fact remains, there was some truth to his observation.
Because on the day before Christmas Eve, the man in the red suit was the big story of the day, and it’s true, I had been following him all over town as he went about his business.
It started with a personal appearance Santa made at Mayberry Bark and Meow where he was having some last minute chats with children and dogs and I kept obtrusively taking photos and eavesdropping on his conversations looking for any little tidbit of breaking news. It must have been annoying, and it was certainly intrusive. One of the kids, and possibly some of the dogs, told me so.
And then when he must have thought he’d shaken me off his trail, and arrived at Miss Angels Heavenly Pies to judge a cookie competition, there I was, camera in hand. It was then that Old Saint Nick asked me if I was stalking him, followed by his trademark belly laugh, saving me from the sordid admission that I was, in fact, stalking Santa Claus.
It wasn’t long until I discovered why Santa did not care to have the news media present when he judged a cookie contest. It would appear on the surface that Santa would be the best judge in the world for a cookie contest. Who could possibly know more about cookies? Who has eaten as many?
If you figure that every single year, Santa, in a single night, has a cookie or two in the home of every single home that celebrates Christmas. With roughly a third of the world’s population being Christian, and if you figure maybe half of the 16 percent of folks who are religiously unaffiliated welcome Santa into their home to get a few free gifts and toys, that’s about three billion people serving him cookies every Christmas Eve.
And you know what I found out? Santa’s not very good at eating cookies. It’s the beard. Getting a cookie past that big, bushy beard is no easy feat. The old man clearly loves cookies, and does, as one would expect, know a great deal about them, but he has a hard time eating them in a respectable fashion.
I can’t believe I never thought of this. I remember when I was 14, and a bunch of friends got ice cream cones in the park. One guy, who was a few years older, a college student with a big, bushy, Jesus Christ Superstar, hippie beard — it was the early ’70s, which if you were there, you’ll remember was really when the ’60s happened — this guy passed on the cone and got his ice cream in a cup and ate it with a spoon.
He said if he ate an ice cream cone outdoors in the summer, there weren’t enough napkins in the world to keep the flies off of him. He’d have to find a water hose, and it just wasn’t worth the trouble. Which, to be perfectly honest, really dampened the cool hippie vibe he’d been working so successfully up until that point.
So though I’ve known of the challenges big beards present in the eating of snacks for most of my life, I had never really thought about the issues Santa might have with his preferred goodie. By the time he gets back to the North Pole on Christmas morning, he must look like he’s been mopping up spills in a Keebler factory all night long with his face.
Poor Santa. Never has there been a bigger disconnect between a job requirement (big, fluffy beard) and satisfactory job performance (eating three billion cookies in a single night).
Of course, then I started wondering how the poor old fella manages to stay so fat (another job requirement). He does so much for us, and we force him to live up to our totally unreasonable body image expectations. It doesn’t seem fair.
I made up my mind then and there, Santa would find no cookies at my house. What he did find was a six-pack of Ensure, a bunch of straws and a note telling him to drink one if he was feeling peckish — and you’re welcome for the straw — and to throw the rest on the sleigh for those times in the coming year when he might need some help maintaining his weight in a sanitary fashion.
He must have appreciated the thought. Next morning there was a case of prosecco on the hearth, with a couple of the bottles chilling in the fridge. There would be mimosas for Christmas brunch.
I was going to serve them with straws in honor of my bearded pal, but strangely, I could not find a single straw anywhere in the house. They had all mysteriously disappeared.
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.