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December 04, 2003

Bringing Santa Down

Honestly, I can't imagine ever going back to a time when I don't have a child to enjoy the holidays with. The more time passes, the more difficult it is to remember a time when I didn't have a child. Playing Santa is one of the true joys of parenthood. We actually have someone in our family (by marriage) who says that he will not "play Santa" with his kids because he feels that it will take away from the true meaning of Christmas, to which I reply, "What the hell, are you serious???" You can imagine the reaction I got in return. He swears that his children will not ruin it for ours, but if my 2 year old (The Bug) is any indication, I can imagine those kids will keep that secret for about, oh.......until they see another child and run screaming through the playground yelling, "Santa isn't real!!! Santa isn't real!!!"

The hard part about playing Santa is that there is a lot of pressure to buy just the right thing. I don't want my kid telling everyone at playschool how much Santa blows, all the while trying to have Christmas without having to take out a second mortgage. Trying to find out what a 2 (almost 3) year old would like for Christmas is like asking a guy at a strip club which stripper he would like to pork. There is a lot of, "I will take that one, and that one, and that one....." Thankfully, this year I actually had some ideas about what she would like. The girl is a freak for books and loves Clifford, so we decided to get her some more Clifford books, a sure bet, right? So, getting a deal on Ebay, we got a massive lot of Clifford books. Sure enough, the very next day when asked what she would like for Christmas, she answered, "I would like some books," leading me to think "Bingo!" She continues, "I would like some Arthur books." So, wanting to lead her down the road of happiness I tried to sway her way of thinking and said, "What about some Clifford books?" She immediately got that look on her face that only young children get when they are really thinking about something and replied, "Nope, I want Arthur books." Dammit. This was but the first incident causing Santa to get the blues.

Within a couple of days of that episode, the wife, The Bug, and the Little Guy found ourselves in Target. The wife took the Little Guy and went to look at something that did not interest me in the least, so I jumped on the opportunity to walk The Bug through the toy isles to get some additional information. We had thought that she might like a dollhouse, actually were happy with ourselves for coming up with the idea, so I again tried to bring her over to my way of thinking. Pointing to the variety of dollhouses I said, "How would you like one of those Bug?," feeling sure I already knew the answer. Surprisingly, she got that same puzzled look on her face and said, "No, I don't want that." What little girl doesn't want whatever toy she is offered? I pray my child is not the only one developing her own mind.

On my second attempt at getting her to want the house, some other kid hit a button on some toy that immediately started cranking out loud versions of the Wiggles greatest hits. They were two rows down, but damn if my child didn't hear it and say, "I want the toy that plays the Wiggles." WTF?? She couldn't even see the toy but knew exactly what she wanted. Unable to regain her attention we set out to find the source of the music. It was, of all things, a toy guitar consisting of a number of buttons that you could hit to make the instrument grind out strange noises and various Wiggles tunes. I had to pry it from her hand while she stated how much she wanted the stupid toy.

It isn't that I don't want her to have the guitar, it is just one of those things that I know in advance how much playing time it will receive. In the department store it seems like a good idea, but upon opening the guitar on Christmas morning it will be the first thing to be thrown aside, never to be picked up again. Santa continued his downward spiral.

So, should Santa give her the guitar when he is fairly certain that its appeal will disappear as quickly as snow in July, or should he give her something that has a better chance of receiving more playing time in 2004? I'm fairly certain that, with gritted teeth and self-hate, Santa will be buying the guitar with a purple octopus on it, because Christmas is about the smile on Christmas morning, the idea that Santa gives children what they want, and the immediate joy of a little girl...........not about playing time or the shelf life of a plastic musical instrument.

Posted by Woundwort at December 4, 2003 10:23 PM | TrackBack
Postscript:
First time visitor to House Hraka? Wondering if everything we produce could possibly be as brilliant/stupid/evil/pedantic/insipid/inspired as the post you just read? Check out the Hraka Essentials, the (mostly) reader-selected guide to Hraka's best posts, and decide for yourself.
Comments

Things that make noise in the hands of a 2 (almost 3) year old are evil. Steer clear if you possibly can.

Posted by: MojoMark at December 5, 2003 12:17 PM

I agree, loud toys and those with 1000 parts are nothing but trouble. Maybe Santa could give the guitar minus the batteries.

Posted by: Woundwort at December 5, 2003 12:19 PM

Does Santa Claus exist?

1)
No known species of a reindeer can fly. BUT there are 300.000 species of living organisms which have yet to be classified. Although these are mostly believed to be insects and bacteria, this may not exclude flying reindeer, which were only seen by Santa so far.

2)
There are around 2 million children (people under 18) in this world. BUT Santa seems to deliver only to children who are of certain faiths. This reduces his workload to approx. 15 % of the total or 378 million children. Using an average of 3.5 children per household, this yields 91.8 million houses. For this study, we will assume that in every house, lives at least one good child.

3)
If Santa Claus is traveling from East to West, he has a 31-hour "Christmas Eve", conditioned by the several time zones in which to deliver his toys. Therefore you have 822.6 visits per second. Consequently for every household with good children, Santa has 1/1000 seconds time for his work: park, jump out of his sleigh, come down the chimney, fill the socks, distribute the remaining presents under the Christmas-Tree, consume any cookies and milk left out, climb back up the chimney again and fly to the next house. Now assuming that each of these 91.8 million stops around the world are of equal distance apart (which of course, we know, is wrong, but for fundamental calculation we will accept this), we get 1.3 km distance between households, or an overall distance of 120.8 million km. This means, that Santa's sleigh flies at 1040 km per second or 3,000 times the speed of sound. For comparison: the fastest manmade vehicle in the world, the Ulysses Space Probe, drives with a ridiculous speed of 43.8 km per second. An ordinary reindeer travels at speeds of unto 24 km per HOUR.

4)
The freight of the sleigh leads to another interesting effect. Assume that every child gets no more than a medium-sized Lego-Set (approx. 1 kg), then the sleigh has a weight of 378.000 tons, not including Santa, to everyone's knowledge is an overweight man. An ordinary reindeer cannot carry more than 175 kg. Even if we assume, that a "flying reindeer" can pull ten times it's own weight, not eight reindeer's are needed for the sleigh (or nine if we bring Rudolph into the mix, but reindeers who have fluorescent noses is for a different rant). but 216,000 reindeers are needed. This raises the weight - not included the sleigh itself - to 410,400 tons. Again to comparison: this is more than the fourfold weight of Queen Elisabeth (the ship not the monarch).

5)
410,400 tons traveling at a speed of 1040 km/s produces a huge air opposition - thus the reindeer will burn up, like a spacecraft entering the earth's atmosphere. The foremost pair of reindeer must absorb then 16.6 TRILLION Joules of energy. Every second. Otherwise: they will go up in flames practically instantaneously, the next pair of reindeer will be exposed to the air opposition, and a deafening bang will be produced. The whole team of reindeer will be vaporized within 5 thousandths of a second. In the meantime Santa will be exposed to an acceleration, 17,500 times the speed of the earth's revolution. A 120 kg heavy Santa Claus (which is ridiculously light after the description) would be nailed to the end of his sleigh - with a power of 20.6 million Newtons.

YOU DECIDE!!


Posted by: Scott Sullivan at December 5, 2003 05:51 PM

Thank you for that lengthy explanation, Ebanezer. Dear God.

Posted by: Woundwort at December 5, 2003 10:22 PM
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