Santa Baby, be good to me...

2012-12-21 14:08

Naughty Santa made a pass at me:

‘Go say hi to Santa,’ I said to my ten-year old son as the two of us happened upon him in the Mall. Where were the kids? Santa looked lonely! My son replied, ‘Mom, if you wanna chat to the guy in the red suit go ahead, but leave me out of it.’

So I did. Santa jumped up from his throne, he shook my hand. With eyes sparkling and lasivious he winked at me, said, ‘You’re cute!’. I was tempted to climb on his lap and ask, ‘So, Santa Baby, when do I get my Ipad?’ But if I’m gonna get kinky with Santa then he’d better be the one who can deliver on his promises.

‘Santa Baby, honey, I’ve been an awful good girl for you,’ go the lyrics of the popular song first crooned by Eartha Kitt in the early fifties. ‘I really do believe in you, let’s see if you believe in me....’ by delivering a load of prezzies including ‘a sable, a 54 convertible, a duplex and checks, a diamond ring’. Ah, the song - ever in vogue with covers by Shakira, Madonna, Kylie and more - conjures the kind of Santa a girl can count on...

The Mall Santa was not the man whom Eartha begged to ‘hurry down the chimney tonight’. The Mall Santa looked only slightly less moth-eaten than the Supermarket Santa I’d bumped into earlier who’d forced lollies on children as eager to take from him as they would be to gobble their veggies at dinnertime. Looked as if it was a last-chance job for him: Santa or bust. As for the Mall Santa, his fake beard was skew, his eyes were bloodshot and he had a gold tooth in his grin.

‘Ok, so you were right,’ I said to my son, ‘he’s just a dude in a red suit.’

Poor Santa definitely seems to have lost his lustre. From year to year reports come in of drunken Santas rampaging in shopping centers, lewd Santas feeling up boys and girls asking if their emails have been read and demanding specifics on the logistics of getting a motorized Razor scooter or a super-deluxe Barbie mansion down the chimney. No wonder Santa goes off the rails on his one outing a year.

And just as Santa seems to be losing his appeal, Jesus too is sidelined. Facebook posts this morning announced: ‘This year in my home I’m putting the ‘Christ’ back into Christmas!’ and ‘Wakey wakey, it’s Jesus’ birthday!’

I have yet to see a nativity scene (you know, the manger set-up of Baby Jesus’ birth, with Mary and Joseph and cattle a lowing, maybe a sheep and a couple of other barn animals looking on). I see giant reindeers, glittering disco balls and fairy lights strung all over malls. I see La Senza lingerie in windows: have yourself a sexy little Christmas in red lingerie trimmed with white fur, be a Jingle Belle, an inspiration to Santa (and others).

The tug of war between Santa and Jesus, between the pagan ritual of gift swapping and the celebration of Christianity, has become a mixed-up, tawdry business. Although the gift-giving habit extends further back than the appearance of the Magi with gold, frankincense and myrrh for the baby (poor Mary – she might have preferred nappies), it tends to get out of hand.

As I grow up I am more and more inclined to believe in ‘the trees’ as celebrity Joanna Lumley does. But mostly, I am less and less enamoured with giving ‘stuff’ in either the name of Jesus or Father Christmas aka Santa.

The joke goes ‘Xmas is definitely the time when everyone gets Santamental’. Yup. I’m a realist when it comes to the Xmas con. It’s a year-end buying binge. We’re manipulated into proving that ‘we care’  by forking out for expensive items. Frantic scurrying in the glittery mall and maxed-out credit cards are typical of the Christmas experience. And in the long run the appeal to man’s acquisitive greed results in a fair amount of misery as we start the New Year broke.

If you prefer a more uplifting view, the true spirit of Christmas as Ebenezer Scrooge comes to learn in the Charles Dickens’s classic A Christmas Carol, is that in giving of one’s time and care, one will in turn to be touched by another’s love. (Précis: cold-hearted Ebenezer Scrooge hates Christmas. Bah humbug. But as he gets to know the crippled Tiny Tim and his family, Scrooge experiences a transformation as his belief in goodwill is restored.)

The Victorian tale, by the way, was viewed as an indictment of nineteenth-century industrial capitalism. Ambivalence it seems, is part and parcel of Christmastime.

That said, put your Santa hats on, and get ready for some festive frolics. Remember whose birthday it is, don’t rush out throwing cash at what you can’t afford, give to a charity if you can, don’t drink and drive. DO...have a safe holiday and remember what counts: Love. Which is the underlying precept common to all religions. And I’m guessing Santa, in his own way, wants to dish out a little ‘lurve’ too.

I'm on twitter  @JoanneHichens

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