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Friday, May 6, 2016

Boldly Going Nowhere

Thursday, December 13, 2001

Christmas Myths

There are 12 days until Christmas. There should be plenty of time to get everything done, as long as you don't sleep more than two hours a night. Christmas, like many other holidays, has its share of historical inaccuracies and myths. For example, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was not one of Santa's reindeer and didn't live at the North Pole. In fact, he was invented in 1939 by Robert L. May, a copywriter for Montgomery Ward department stores, as a promotional gimmick. By 1946, a total of 6 million copies of the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer booklet had been distributed to Montgomery Ward customers. May's brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, developed the lyrics and music for a Rudolph song which was recorded by Gene Autry in 1949. It sold 2 million copies that year alone and went on to become the second best-selling record of all time, behind only "White Christmas." However, May's original story differs from the song lyrics. According to May, Rudolph lived in an ordinary reindeer village considerably south of the North Pole. Even though he was taunted for having a shiny red nose, his parents were not embarrassed. They brought Rudolph up in a loving home and gave him a high sense of self-esteem. Santa delivered presents to their house one night during a thick fog. Impressed by the glow of Rudolph's shiny red nose, Santa chose him to lead his team of reindeer to complete his rounds. This brings to mind other Christmas myths. MYTH 1 -- Santa Claus is a fat man in a red suit who lives at the North Pole. Actually, he's not all that fat. He just wears lots of layers of clothes to keep warm. When you zip around the night sky in an open sleigh in December it can get quite nippy; especially when you're travelling at a speed fast enough to visit every household in the world in only one evening. By the way, Santa's outfit is red to protect him from trigger-happy sportsmen -- he doesn't want to be mistaken for a flock of geese. MYTH 2 -- Santa Claus climbs down chimneys to deliver his presents. He once did climb down chimneys but got stuck several times in Colorado where legislation in 1969 required all chimneys to be politically and environmentally correct by containing filters. In 1970 Santa reverted to using doors and windows. But he was busted in 1972 in Hackensack, New Jersey, for breaking and entering. Apparently, the citizens of Hackensack lock their doors and windows at night. Ever since then, Santa has used the Star Trek method of teleportation whereby his molecular structure is disassembled in the sleigh and reassembled directly in front of the Christmas tree. This way he is guilty only of entering but not of breaking, usually a misdemeanor in most places. MYTH 3 -- Santa Claus likes to have some cookies and milk waiting for his arrival. This was true up until 1983 when he developed a gastrointestinal infection while hovering over the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles. Since that unfortunate incident, cookies containing raisins or dates gives Santa a bad case of diarrhea, which can cause a great deal of consternation while flying through the air in an open sleigh. MYTH 4 -- Kids will get presents that reflect the latest craze. Wrong. There is no latest craze. Remember Cabbage Patch dolls, Teen-age Mutant Ninja Turtles and Tickle-Me Elmo? They were the latest craze for about 15 minutes. By the time the kids open presents, the latest craze will become a closet relic. If you want to give your kids a gift that has some worth, give them something that will make them independent and get them out of the house, like a set of socket wrenches or a chainsaw. MYTH 5 -- Santa's reindeer are named Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen. Actually, those are only nicknames to make it easier to come up with Christmas jingles. Their real names are Alex Hydell, Johnny Paycheck, Millard Fillmore, Marion Morrison, Holden Caufield, Nathan Detroit, Rin Tin Tin and Billy Joe Bob Blitzen.