When did Santa Claus become ubiquitous?
I know from watching old holiday movies like Miracle on 34th Street that he has been a department-store regular for years, and I understand that he must maintain some sort of intelligence network, given his ability to know when you are sleeping, etc. But this year it seemed like we couldn’t go anywhere without running into him. He made an appearance at our town’s Christmas parade in early December, and A.J. waited in line afterward to sit in his lap and make his Christmas wish. A week later, Santa was back--this time at the neighborhood kids’ Christmas party. Again, A.J. stood in line for another lap session. It was not long after this that I spotted a sign advertising a Santa appearance at the local Walgreen’s. When Santa starts showing up at the pharmacy counter, you know things have gone too far. I imagined a long line snaking through the dental hygiene aisle and past the shelves of Theraflu, leading finally to a beleagured man in red sitting near the rotating display of non-prescription glasses, handing out bottles of Xanax.
When we were getting ready for our annual weekend stayover in downtown Chicago, a friend asked me if we were gong to see Santa at Macy’s. I had to laugh. We’d had more than enough Santa by then.
But on Christmas Eve, just after the sun had gone down and we had put out a bunch of luminaria in front of the house, we saw an enormous full moon rising. It was a nearly perfectly clear night, and one thin tendril of cloud was scudding across the moon as it hung just over the eastern horizon. We told A.J. to keep an eye out for Santa’s sleigh in the sky and we all agreed that it would be wonderful to see him and his reindeer in mid-flight, backlit by the big yellow disk.
A.J. did keep scanning the skies, but made no sightings. And maybe I’m just projecting here, but I think he was happy to be merely looking for Santa and, for once, not seeing him.