Do We Really Have To Politicize Santa?

I don’t remember believing in Santa Claus — but according to my mother, I did.  I do remember my younger sisters believing, and playing along with the Santa game.  It was fun, and it made Christmas a more special, magical time.  When Richard and Russell were little, and they believed in St. Nick, it was a time of great, innocent joy.

So why does Greenpeace need to produce a video of Santa warning children that Christmas might not come because global warming is endangering the North Pole.  I know this is just political claptrap, prepared to attract attention and, presumably, donations, but it really crosses a line.  Santa shouldn’t be political. Regardless of your position on whether human activities have produced global warming, can’t we leave little children and their beautiful fantasies about life and magical people like Santa Clause alone?

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The Commute From Hell

I’ve worked in Columbus since 1986.  This morning was the worst commute I’ve ever had here.  I’m not exaggerating.  It took me two hours to complete a drive that normally takes about 25 minutes, and I’m not quite sure where and how the breakdown occurred.

Sure, it started snowing about 4 a.m. — but the snow was forecast long ago, and you’d think the authorities would have been prepared with salt and snowplow.  Instead, when I hit 161 at 6:45 a.m., which is about 15 minutes earlier than normal, the roads were completely snow covered, there were several icy patches, and the traffic was inching along at the breakneck clip of about two miles an hour — with frequent stops mixed in. 

IMG_1653The worst thing about such a commute is that there is no way to make a right decision.  My theory is that lane movement is pretty consistent from lane to lane and therefore frequent lane changes don’t provide an advantage until you reach a point where normal traffic flow would warrant a shift. In snow, however, many people drive like idiots, and when rush hour is a disaster they become even more reckless.  This morning school buses and tractor trailers were trying to use merge lanes to pass long lines of cars on the right and then jam back into the flow.  Obviously, that didn’t help.   

This isn’t New York City or another metropolis where two hour commutes are standard.  People come to Columbus to get away from this kind of frustrating, infuriating, nerve-jangling disaster.  Today reminded me precisely why we made that decision.  When I finally got to my parking space, the new-fallen snow looked very pretty on the trees lining Gay Street, and I calmed down and enjoyed the pretty sight.  I just hope I never have a commute like that again. 

Calling For Christmas Cookie Recipes — 2013 (III)

I’ve never made a cookie with any kind of meat before.  In view of the fact that I pretty much eat only meat, perhaps it’s time to branch out and break through the meat barrier in my holiday baking.  This year, I’m going to give this recipe a try — although I’m not sure whether my local grocery store stocks mincemeat made with real meat.

Mincemeat Cookies

Ingredients:  1 cup sifted flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 cup soft shortening, 1 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon light molasses, 1 egg, 1/2 cup mincemeat, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 cup rolled oats, 1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Sift flour, baking power, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda together and keep in a bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix shortening, sugar, molasses, and egg until mixture is fluffy.  Mix in mincemeat, then stir in dry mixture, vanilla, oats, and nuts until well combined.  Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto greased baking sheets, then bake for 10 minutes.

Calling for Christmas Cookie Recipes — 2013

Calling for Christmas Cookie Recipes — 2013 (II)

The Santa Claus Cutting Board

Yesterday we received an unexpected gift — a large, acrylic Santa Claus cutting board.  It features a fine depiction of the right jolly old elf, with fur-trimmed robe and hat, red nose, flowing white beard, and a full pack of toys for good little girls and boys.

IMG_5533Any gift is thoughtful and appreciated, of course, and we certainly can use a sturdy new cutting board.  Still, there is something about a Santa Claus cutting board that is a bit . . . unsettling.  Who would want to bring a sharp knife down on St. Nick’s plump face as they slice a lemon or scar him permanently with a well-placed stroke across the belly?  Why should Kris Kringle have to endure the hacking and stabbing and chopping?

Of course, this kind of cutting board may have a strong subconscious appeal to people who’ve had enough of Christmas sales and Christmas traffic and their fiftieth exposure to Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer.  Frankly, they’ve had it up to here with Christmas already and just need to relieve a little bit of holiday tension by bringing a meat cleaver down on St. Nick’s neck.  Or perhaps it is intended for people who didn’t get the Robbie the Robot toy they asked for three years in a row, were made to feel like they were a bad boy, and secretly have always wanted to take it out on Santa by smashing a tomato in his fat, judgmental, coal-giving face.  “Hey, Santa — what gives you the right to decide who’s naughty or nice?”  Whack!

We’ll know if there’s something to this theory if we start to see Santa Claus-themed toilet plungers and Father Christmas targets at the local gun range.