I just saw in a popular tech magazine (Wired, Dec. 2020) that back in August, a guy named Ric Erwin, who is the head of the Fraternal Order of Real Bearded Santas (yep, this is a real organization), lobbied the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to convince them Santa’s helpers should be some of the first to receive any COVID-19 vaccine.
Erwin’s reasoning was that it is vital to have vaccinated Santa’s helpers ready to hear the Christmas wishes of children. Otherwise, Santa’s helpers could become super spreaders.
According to Wired, and much like what happened to Kris Kringle in the 1947 film “Miracle on 34th Street,” Mr. Erwin was not taken seriously by the committee — only one out of the 15 committee members admitted he had never stopped believing.
Unfortunately for most of us, a vaccine will not be available in time for Christmas. But Erwin’s plea raises a larger question. In addition to worrying about Santa’s helpers spreading the coronavirus, shouldn’t we be worried even more about the Jelly Belly himself?
A case in point is Belgium, which is one of the European countries hit worst by the coronavirus pandemic. The government there enforces a nightly curfew and tough quarantine rules. Nevertheless, according to news reports, Belgian health officials waived the quarantine and curfew for Santa when he arrived for St. Nicholas Day (Dec. 6), which is when by tradition he drops presents down chimneys in Belgium in the middle of the night.
Some explanation here may help. The Belgians obviously have it all screwed up. Instead of arriving on Christmas Eve, they believe Santa lives in Spain, of all places, and arrives by ship in the port of Antwerp more than two weeks before Christmas. (I guess they haven’t figured out that if Santa lives in Spain his sleigh would be pulled by toros, not reindeer.) Somebody really needs to read “The Night Before Christmas” to those people.
Even here in the United States there seems to be a growing willingness to relax the rules for Santa. As reported by USA Today (Nov. 20, 2020), the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, announced that Santa has a special immunity to the coronavirus. Really!? Come on, Fauci! How can you be sure Santa is immune? You yourself have said that there is so much we do not know about this virus. I’ll bet you don’t even know if Santa has been tested. As far as I know, not one COVID testing center in the nation has reported a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer driven by a jolly fat guy in a red suit passing through for a test. If you really want to assure the American people Santa is safe, you’d best swap that classic image of Santa with a Coca-Cola for one of Santa with a couple of cotton swabs up his nostrils.
If Santa doesn’t follow the CDC’s safety guidelines, he could become the biggest super spreader of all. On Christmas Eve he will be visiting every house in the world (with the exception of Belgium, of course—he already hit those places on Dec. 6). And Santa is not obliged to follow the CDC guidelines. He’s not an American. Regardless of what the Belgians say, everyone knows he lives at the North Pole.
We will therefore have to protect ourselves. We need new rules:
- Assuming that everyone in the house has been good all year and Santa does make a visit, the chimney, hearth and all gifts should be wiped with sanitizer on Christmas morning before anyone in the family touches them. (Even if Santa only leaves lumps of coal for the ne’er-do-wells, that coal should be sanitized.)
- No leaving milk and cookies by the tree for Santa. The cookie plate and milk glass could become contaminated. The same rule applies to leaving carrots for the reindeer (or hay for the toros, if you believe the Belgians). Besides, Santa is already plump. Do you want him to become more obese and possibly diabetic? That would increase his risk of severe complications with COVID.
- If you insist on waiting up to catch the jolly old elf doing his work, please wear a mask. And if you are lucky enough to catch him in the act, please stay more than six feet away, especially if he lets loose with some “Ho-ho-hos.” There could be billions of coronavirus particles in each “Ho.”
- Last, and I know this will be hard for a lot of you mommies out there, no kissing Santa Claus under the mistletoe.
If we follow these four simple rules, we should all be around to enjoy a happy and vaccine-filled New Year. Happy Holidays to All.