Copyright © 2007 Henrietta W. Hay
Merry Christmas 2007
December 14, 2007
It is very hard to write a Christmas column in 2007. The world is in
a mess, we are on the brink of more war, and a too long Presidential
election campaign is getting pretty nasty.
But it is still the Christmas season. Here in the Commons the lights
are shining, the trees are trimmed, there is music, and my cute little stuffed
Santa Claus is sitting patiently outside my door.
So let's talk about Santa. I did some extensive research on him.
Well, to be honest, somebody on the web did it, but it is quite
As the distributor of all those toys, Santa Claus has some major
problems that we tend to ignore.
Assuming one small toy per kid, the payload on the sleigh would be
roughly 321,300 tons, plus Santa who is slightly overweight.
Eating 4 million cookies in one night will do that to you. Donder
and Blitzen and their co-workers simply can't do the job, especially
since they are now over 150 years old (American version). It would
take 214,200 physically fit reindeer.
But these figures are based on the premise that there is only one
Santa Claus. A thousand Santas (1 kilosanta) or a million Santas (a
megasanta) working in parallel could make it work.
Santa is not dead. He is distributed. Ah ha. That explains it.
The Santa that I knew would not recognize the electronic toys of
today. Maybe we would have to add another megasanta.
I have a theory that there are only two basic toys -- stuff to build
with and stuff to hold and snuggle -- blocks and dolls.
The earliest toy blocks were probably cut by hand by fathers and
carefully smoothed for their kids to play with. Then came
manufactured wooden blocks, mostly cubes a couple of inches square and
often containing the letters of the alphabet. Those were the blocks
of my early childhood.
I was not into dolls very much, although I did have one baby doll
with hair. My favorites were Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy and, of
course, teddy bears. I really preferred the blocks, and constructed some
And then the toy makers started to get innovative.
First came toys that required skill to assemble. Lincoln Logs made of
wood, erector sets made of metal, and Legos made of plastic started
that series. At first they were simple enough that even parents could
build stuff. Since they came along in my sons' generation, I got
to play with them.
Now the toy store shelves are full of fascinating construction kits
which almost require an engineering degree to use.
Modern dolls I will not go into, since the major one was Barbie. She
is now over 50, so she may have matured a little, but I think Barbie
did more to stifle women's ambitions than any other. But she is still
The whole picture is changed with the arrival of electronic toys.
And this year parents are faced with potential danger, what with lead
and toxic materials in many of the toys imported from China. All we
can say is, "Be careful, Mom and Dad. Read the fine print on the
package." But the kids will still get toys, for coming all too soon.
"'T'was the nocturnal segment of the diurnal period preceding the
annual Yuletide celebration and throughout our place of residence
kinetic activity was not in evidence of this potential, including
species of the domestic rodent known as Mus musculus."
Merry Christmas to All.