There are no quicker students of cause and effect than small people. Forever pushers of boundaries and testers of tempers, kids have an uncanny ability to limbo under the line that is a parent’s breaking point, getting away with one less cucumber at dinner time or ten extra minutes in front of the TV. It is for this reason that in the Jones-Wong household, the jangling of very distant sleigh bells can be heard as early as July. It is with this in mind that I summon all parents in Beijing to unite and create a consistent, seamless narrative concerning Santa and his crew.
While Elin’s powers of perception have not really developed beyond choosing which flavor ice cream she should choose, her 7-year-old sister is beginning to have serious doubts concerning the existence of the fat bearded one resulting in the further thinning of our parental blackmail sack. The problem is that everywhere she looks for confirmation of Claus’ credulity, she meets with conflicting stories. A quick canvas of her friends taught her that in some instances Santa enters the family home via the balcony window while in others he has obtained a magic key. She’s also begun to wonder why in other households, presents come in spangled wrapping paper while in ours, Santa’s elves use multiple copies of the same issue of Beijing Wanbao.
Hollywood doesn’t help either. In some instances, St. Nick keeps an ever vigilant watch over those naughty and nice via a giant dome at his headquarters in the North Pole. In other portrayals, Santa relies on a Stalinesque system of undercover elves. Ariana has also witnessed a film where a magic straw is ingested by Santa’s sleigh pullers, providing the old man with enough speed to deliver about a billion presents in the batting of a festive eyelid. I’ve cringed, noting the raising of her critical eyebrow, as no explanation at all is offered in this complete disregard for the fundamentals of physics. This is particularly revealing for Ariana seeing as I had previously explained that on this night alone, Santa is empowered with the ability to stop time.
It is for this reason, my Beijing brethren, that I suggest a collective message along the following lines:
1. Santa can stop time on Christmas Eve: period. He only starts the world turning again at the moment that the last child has closed his or her eyes and fallen asleep.
2. All presents fit easily into Santa’s sack due to an ultra stretchy material that was developed by the North Pole’s equivalent of NASA, whose sole purpose is to create scientific advancements to allow the big man to complete his annual mission.
3. Santa is able to ingest several million mince pies due to the fact that he practices a religion not known elsewhere that requires a lengthy fast beginning on Boxing Day (the day after Christmas Day).
Parents, remember that the stakes are high. Let us not lose that last great bargaining chip lightly!