1. @ Carl – The son appears to be doing a fist pump (“Oh boy, we get even more presents”), and the girl is about to run over and give Santa a hug.
    P.S. Those kids could use a few more presents: that is the most barren living room (and emptiest holiday table) I have ever seen.

  2. If Santa Claus is real, that means Christmas is real, which means Jesus Christ is the Messiah, which means they’re worshipping the wrong religion. It’s rare that one would get such a clear sign. They should be grateful they have a chance to change their ways before it is too late.

    As for Peanuts, I’d suspect that department store Santas are told to not discuss religion. Just smile and nod in agreement. If anyone here has ever done it, it’d be interesting to hear what the instructions are.

  3. SBill, I grew up in a definitely non-Christian family that wished nonetheless to participate to some extent in the evidently important civil holiday of Christmas. So indeed much more emphasis on Santa than on Jesus. Which didn’t mean accepting either as real. And we didn’t have to filter the more religious based music from the more seasonal and gift-exchange based music, although we could at least mentally roll eyes a bit when “savior” and the like would come up.

    We briefly tried getting Hanukkah into the mix. Then my mother joined the Unitarians and a tree and lights and gifts were absolutely kosher (errm, whatever) for the Midwinter Celebration of Light. Which could even unofficially import Santa Claus.

  4. Mitch4, unless you were living in some different dimension, your Santa Claus was simply a legend, a fictional character. Putting up images or talking about presents coming “from Santa” was just pretending for fun. I have no trouble decoupling Santa and trees and presents and food from religious mumbo jumbo. It’s just a fun party in my mind. But if Santa Claus is real, the manifest spirit of Christmas joy and giving or whatever, that becomes another matter. So, unless that’s a festive burglar, they’ve had about as direct a sign as anyone ever has that they are on the wrong spiritual path. And it appears that they have rejected all attempts to correct them, because this is not Santa’s first visit. So maybe a subtle jab at how we tenaciously cling to what we believe even when it is proven wrong.

  5. Singapore Bill: When she was little, my sister-in-law somehow got permission to go sit in Santa’s lap, despite the fact that they didn’t celebrate Christmas. When Santa asked her what she wanted, she got confused, and said “We’re Jewish, we don’t celebrate Christmas.” The department store Santa just asked her what she wanted for Hannukah.

  6. Mitch4, I grew up celebrating a completely secular Christmas as well. My parent were from China, and just thought it was a fun American holiday. My mother actually didn’t find out that it was supposed to be Jesus’s birthday until I was in my 20s.

  7. Back in school, we knew a number of Jewish families who put up a “Hanukkah bush” for the holiday season. I don’t think any of my high school friends were devout practitioners of any religion; there were a few Unitarians, one of whom liked to quip that mathematically, their belief was “There is at most one God.” Even the agnostics and atheists were never militant about it.

  8. P.S. @ Carl Fink – On the first panel: my first impression was that it must be another “Yaffle”, but when I looked for the stupid bird, I discovered that the signature was from someone else.

  9. Speaking of maintaining or presenting religious elements of the holidays, I don’t at all understand what’s going on in this Drabble (not usually the deepest of strips):

    Or I guess I’m overreading to see Garden of Eden and Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in that flag. Maybe it’s some kind of “po’mouth” gesture, “We have only a withered tree, losing all its greenery and all but one ornament”? But then, why?

  10. @ Mitch4 – That’s not an apple, that’s the single red ball that was hung on the tree that Charlie Brown bought (because he felt sorry for it) in the Peanuts Christmas special.

  11. Mitch4 – When my mother was a girl – her parents took her (and I presume my uncle, her brother) to see Santa Claus. They were Jewish immigrants to the US (grandfather came here at 17 and grandmother at 3 with her parents) and wanted to be “Americans” and Americans take their children to see Santa Claus.

    The story goes that mom was sitting on Santa’s lap and he asked the usual “What do you want for Christmas little girl?” Mom responded “I am not a goy.” Santa said “I said what do you want for Christmas little girl – not boy.” My grandparents grabbed my mom and ran.

    (Just in case there is a teeny, slight possibility that some one does not know what a goy is – it is a person who is not Jewish – actually I believe it means “nation”.)

  12. @ Mitch4 – For those who remember the scene, the tree is a nice reference to the monologue in which Linus recites from the Bible to explain “what Christmas is all about” (as opposed to Snoopy’s commercialism).

  13. Growing up we did not really have Christmas. When I was little I would get some Christmas presents from some of my dad’s clients and my grandfather’s foreman. I had a styrofoam Santa figure and one of Rudolf. They went on the big (1950s) TV in the living room. Christmas day my gifts from these sources would be in front of the TV. I had been told when I asked how Santa gets into houses without a chimney – that he comes through the TV.

    This more or less disappeared after my sister was born – then again, her birthday was December 23 so the focus turned to her.

  14. @ Meryl A – In a recent comment, Winter Wallaby was careful to use the “correct” term “gentiles” to refer to “non-Jews”. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I would have expected, understood, and would not have been offended to see “goy” there. In my experience, the word has always been a jocular expression that did not imply derision or dislike, but since I’ve never been deeply involved in a Jewish community, I don’t know what kind of weight it might carry in an “internal” context.

  15. In Biblical Hebrew, goy just means people or nation, so one can talk of the Jewish goy in the Bible. However, Jews used it in so many circumstances to talk about other, non-Jewish, people, that it took on that meaning at some point.

  16. “If Santa Claus is real, that means Christmas is real, which means Jesus Christ is the Messiah”

    I can’t follow this logic. If Santa is really, it means a legend personification exists and he likes Christmas. I don’t see any reason that would mean Jesus Christ is the Messiah. And whatever relation the first premise has to the last, Christmas is real. It’s marked on nearly every calendar and occurs every December 25.

  17. I think it’s best to err on the side of not unintentionally giving offence in one’s speech. I once had a job where I sat next to two black men (I am white). One man was born in Canada, of Caribbean parentage, the other was an immigrant from Uganda. We all got on very well. There was much frivolity and jocularity among us. There was some playful racial humour that we all enjoyed. Nothing terribly mean. One thing these too men would do was use the “n-word” in their exchanges with each other. I never did. One time the Ugandan told me that it was okay, I was their friend and I could say that and the other man agreed. I told them I appreciated that they considered me someone close and trustworthy and not racist but that there was no way I was ever going to use that word. First, it didn’t feel right, second, if someone else heard it, they would (reasonably) find it offensive.

  18. ...Christmas is real. It’s marked on nearly every calendar ...

    “Do you believe in full-immersion baptism?”

    Believe in it? Heck, I’ve seen it done!”

  19. “So people are really devoted to that special, is it?”

    Yes, they are.

    Heck, they are even devoted “A Christmas Story” and had a comic feature a lamp in the shape of a stockinged leg, you would be expected to get the reference.

  20. I mostly agree with woozy. The existence of a present-day Santa Claus who delivers presents is not a doctrine of the Christian religion, so if I saw an actual magical Santa Claus, I would’t necessarily take that to mean that Christianity was the one true religion. I would just be very confused. But it would make me more likely to give credence to the idea that Christianity, or something close to it, was correct.

  21. ” I would just be very confused. But it would make me more likely to give credence to the idea that Christianity, or something close to it, was correct.”

    It would make me realize there is magic in the world. But frankly, Santa Claus is so very pagan I don’t think it’d even occur to me to associate it with Christian doctrines. I suppose if I thought about it I’d have to ask “Um…. why Christmas?” but like actual history of ritual I’d assume, “well, it was convenient”.

  22. Santa Claus is not a Christian doctrine, but he is associated with Christianity. If I realized Santa Claus was real, I’d be more likely to think some supernatural explanation of the world was true, and to the degree that I went back and reconsidered major world religions, the existence of someone based on a Christian saint would make me more inclined to think Christianity was right, rather than say, Islam or Buddhism.

  23. If I were convinced that Santa Claus were real, I’d probably be somewhat more inclined to believe that Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, the Thunderbird, the various UK Black Dogs, and Mothman were also real. (I’d add poltergeists and spontaneous human combustion, but I’m already inclined to believe they are real, so I shan’t.) I’m perfectly willing to believe Jesus benJoseph was real, and if Santa Claus were real I might be more agreeable to the supernatural aspects of the biography/legend, but also to the supernatural aspects of most/all other religions. So I don’t think this quite works for me.

    (Of course, the father of the family in the “putz” cartoon has his own opinions, and who is to say his are any less valid than mine? “I am but an egg.” (but I don’t do bomb disarmings)” )

  24. @ Shrug – ‘…the “putz” cartoon…
    According to a list of Yiddish terms, the word “putz” is roughly equivalent to “dick”, but I’m not sure whether the anatomical or attitude element should take precedence. Gary Larson once wrote that his editor would not let him use “dork” in a caption (because of the equivalent anatomical origin of the term), but this is decades later, and Vash doesn’t appear to be syndicated, so that wouldn’t be a concern here.

  25. There was a long-ago roundabout off-color joke based on that word. Mention a famous golfer – this might have been in the Arnold Palmer or Jack Nicklaus era, before Tiger Woods – and say something about how golfers all around the world admire his putts.
    To throw it more definitely in the anatomical understanding, you could maybe say fans always come over to him in the locker room to tell him that …

  26. There is also an apocryphal story that dates back to at least the Sam Snead era, in which “kissing his balls (for luck)” is attributed to a player’s wife, generating (in later versions) the reply “I’ll bet that made his putter stand up!

  27. There is a mostly-true story about a baseball sportscaster getting suspended for an on-air joking remark. I thought it might be Harry Caray but can’t find it in bio articles about him right now.
    One time I did find an authoritative account, and the joke was not as long or as fully constructed as it had become in my memory. But lacking the certified version, here’s how I recall it (from recountings, not from having heard it myself at the original broadcast):

    There's a loving young couple I see in the stands. They are exchanging a kiss with each pitch. He kisses her on the strikes, and she kisses him on the balls.

  28. What did the Wise Man say to Jesus as he gave him the gift of gold?

    “Here, kid, this is your Christmas present AND your birthday present.”

    I wasn’t born on December 25, but those who were born on December 25 will understand.

  29. I heard or heard about (sixty years ago, memory fades) a probably-faked story about another baseball announcer who described the arrival in the game of a relief pitcher: “And he’s approaching the mound, and now he’s getting on the old rubber and he’s ready for action!”

  30. It just clicked with me that it’s “Florida Woman”. So “Florida Man” has some competition.

  31. If this was a normal year, I would have spent this evening (and many others this month) in 18th century repro clothing (including stays) talking about Sinterklaus (family who built/owned the late 1700s house our unit interprets at the Candlelight Night event at the local restoration village was Dutch – rest of village is in 1800s) as well as English Christmas customs with Sinterklaus being the forerunner of Santa Claus. (We have no idea of who Santa Claus is as he did not exist in 1775 and will comment if someone says same that they must be Dutch and the children in the house have told me the name is Sinterklaus.) I also get to talk about anything else in the period and as you can imagine from my posts, I do.

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