Monday, December 3, 2007

Santa is Undergoing a Crash Diet

Some of the buzz around the net is talking about a call from Acting U.S. Surgeon General Galston to follow in the footsteps of the British and require Santa to be thin in order to be a better role-model for kids.

In order to help Santa in his new endeavor to lose weight, children are asked to replace the traditional milk and cookies with celery sticks and herbal tea. Environmental Scientists disagree, stating that the effects of such high doses of fiber to both Santa and his reindeer may cause a significant increase in the North Pole's carbon footprint.

Now what's really scary is that I only had to make up the second half of that. The first part is true, and just asking to be Fark or Onion fodder. Santa is now apparently a lifestyle role model for hundreds of children. Perhaps the fat kids in the schoolyard are inspiring jealousy amongst the kids with the misfortune to be genetically thin.


I would dearly love to hear from anyone who deliberately ate the enormous amount that it would require to make a naturally thin person fat, simply because they took Santa as a role model. Really.


It says something about the primal, subconscious level of fat fear in the world that this is even an issue. It's all very Brave New World. This fear, like all phobias, persists despite all evidence that no actual danger exists. Like so many phobias, it also has a negative effect on the ability to enjoy life. Parents have been made so terrified of fat children that they take away all the traditions of holidays which we once enjoyed without fear. Trick or Treating, a candy cane from Santa, chocolate eggs at Eostre's feast, Pumpkin Pie at Thanksgiving....The strongest positive memories of childhood are often related to the sight, smell and taste of holiday foods. Mom and dad could have saved a bundle on the cool toys, because my sharpest nostalgic memories from childhood Christmas involved the smell of the tree, the sound of the music, the view of the lights when I lay down looking up through the decorations, and the taste of the orange rolls we made for every Christmas breakfast.

Oh, and the lite-bright. I take it back about the cool toys...that lite bright was awesome. First grade, I think. :-)

I understand that by religion and health, some children have different memories and associations of traditional times in their lives, but generally I think most kids grow up with at least one childhood memory that centers around food. It speaks to us on a deeper level than the glitter and flash, the family arguments, or the kitchy decorations that moulder in the attic each year. There is a reason why our most treasured holidays emphasize food. Now there is a culture-wide leeching of all the rich symbols of the seasons because of some ridiculous fear that a child may ingest too many calories or fat grams.

A life lived in fear is not lived. Whether it be a fear of terrorists that makes us hide in the house and hate our neighbors for their differences, or a fear of rejection that shrivels us up inside until we cannot bear to think of connecting to another human being. If the fear of fat is causing you to stop living or letting children live, isn't that worse than any imaginary health effects it might have? There are so many legitimate things to worry about, don't sweat what you really, really cannot change.

Ok sure, so the very traditional mythic Father Christmas/Pere Noel/Kris Kringle was a tall, thin stately figure or a slim child of the fae. Someone will probably say that they're just returning Santa to his roots (and how eager would they be to do so if they knew how oh-so-deliciously-pagan those roots were?) But the fat jolly Santa is a staple of our modern culture. He's a part of the modern mythology, for we have so few good stories left to raise the children on. How old does a tradition need to be, in order to be sacrosanct? Is there even such a thing anymore?

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