It involved Yours Truly donning a long, white robelike article of clothing, cardboard bishop's miter, wooden staff, and red velvety cape that weighs about 127 pounds. I did not wear a beard (except for my real goatee, trimmed very tightly today incidentally) or in any way try to disguise my so-called normal visage and appearance. And no ho-ho-ho's.
If you children don't behave, I will either spank you, or show you pictures of this episode.
In all seriousness, I tried to -- in a quiet way -- make a sort-of anti-Santa Claus statement.
The youngsters gathered around in a circle before me, and I crouched down to chat with them. Here are some of the things I told them, or tried to convey (whether based on facts or legends, I didn't get into; it doesn't matter):
- The real Saint Nicholas, from present-day southeastern Turkey but under control of Greece in the 4th century, loved the poor.
- And he showed it. When his wealthy parents died, he gave his whole inheritance toward helping the poor and lonely and troubled and suffering.
- The whole bit about putting little gifts in stockings or shoes was based on the legend of his anonymous gifts to poor girls.
- He loved children.
- He loved them whether they were naughty or nice. He loved them. Period.
My point is: somehow I juggle these disparate tangents of self, these self-delusions.
But yesterday's event, and my little research leading up to it, underscored how Western society, and most especially the United States, has perverted everything Saint Nicholas stood for. We call it Christmas and Santa Claus, but ain't it really Capitalism and $anta Claw$? (And I'm not naive: an immediate cessation of this nonsense would cause economic hardship to many; the tamped-down economic activity would shed thousands and thousands, if not millions, of real jobs.)
Well, it explains, just a little, why I'm such a holiday curmudgeon.