"And so it is Christmas," as John Lennon once sang.
Last year around this time (albeit slightly before the arrival of the big, fat, red lobster man, unlike this year), I wrote about some of my own personal Christmas traditions. This year I thought I would be doing something slightly different; so please indulge me in some ramblings and musings on the subject of Santa Clause.
To open up this associative chain of thought, allow me to tell you the first half of a joke once told me by one of my colleagues of the linguistic persuasion: What do you call Santa's little helpers? (Hang in there, I promise to provide the answer before we part.)
So, Santa Clause – or, as the British call him, Father Christmas; which opens up nicely for a segue into associative digression #1.
This is in fact my first Christmas as a father, and although the little fellow is a wee bit too small to fully understand or appreciate the proceedings of the holiday, his presence has certainly altered my own perceptions and understanding. And I do not merely mean things like the annual viewing of The Nightmare Before Christmas taking much longer than usual, with an array of pauses for diverse things. No; while that was certainly a noticeable effect, it is merely a symptom of something much larger. From here on and at the very least for a while, Christmas will once more become a children's holiday, viewed through the eyes of a child, and filled with all imaginable magic and wonder. So, maybe the British are spot on, in acknowledging Santa's paternal role in the children's celebrations.
Of course, Santa has other names to; which opens up nicely for a segue into associative digression #2.
The name Santa Clause itself is obviously a version of the longer Saint Nicholas. With that in mind, it would be easy to assume that the "nickname" (pun half intended) Old Nick was one of Santa's, but alas, one would be ever so wrong in assuming that. Old Nick is, in fact, an old elliptical way of referring to the Devil, who also is a child of many names. One of these names, much publicised by Milton, is Satan. In Christmas times like these, however, it is hard not to recognise that the latter is merely a misspelling of Santa (or vice versa), which leaves a lot of unanswered questions to be pondered. And mayhap the reference of Old Nick is not quite so clear, nor the implied referent so erroneous, as originally suggested.
But let us wrap these ramblings up and return to my initial query (for all good things come in threes): what do you call Santa's little helpers?
Well, naturally they are all sub-clauses.