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Hate to Tell You This, but Santa is Dead

DSC_0367, originally uploaded by Shirley Buxton.

“How do we handle the Santa issue?”

The center of our home has always been reserved for Jesus and His Word; our ears have routinely been open to His direction for our lives—not just for Jerry and me, but of course, as our family grew, such focus and teaching surrounded our four children.

What then, at Christmas time, would we do with Santa? I don’t recall that Jerry and I sat down and formally discussed this, but it evolved that we treated Santa Claus as a fairy tale, much like The Three Bears or Jack in the Beanstalk. We helped the children set out cookies on Christmas Eve, and a glass of milk, whose consumption Jerry and I graciously effected. In the malls, we stood in line with our youngsters and grinned drunkenly, as do most parents, when our charmers sat on the fat red lap. But it was just a story to them…I thought, until a couple of weeks ago, Rebecca told me that at one point, she really believed there was a Santa.

I know for sure Michael (or maybe it was Steve) didn’t believe Santa was real, for once I received a call from his 6th grade teacher. Seems Michael had scoffed at a classmate who was a believer in the North Pole and magical reindeer, and an irate parent had called the school. Michael and I had a friendly talk about respecting other people’s beliefs and not spoiling visions and dreams.

As you regular readers of this site know, I love Christmas and all its surrounds and trappings…the shopping, cooking, lights, music, excitement…all of it. It’s my favorite. And I must confess, I love Santa Claus, and once a few years ago, I bought myself an animated one, whose switch when pressed, sets him to dancing and singing. He’s adorable, and I have been known to smile at him, pat his fat cheeks, and, on occasion, to dance with him.

Imagine my consternation, when a few weeks ago, I learned that indeed there once was a Santa, but he is now dead. The nature of his demise was first revealed in 1990 in the Spy Magazine. (Now defunct—not surprising since they allowed such a negative story to be published.)
So, my job is sad today, as I republish here the Physics of the Death of Santa Claus.

No known species of reindeer can fly. BUT there are 300,000 species of living organisms yet to be classified, and while most of these are insects and germs, this does not COMPLETELY rule out flying reindeer which only Santa has ever seen.

There are two billion children (persons under 18) in the world. BUT since Santa doesn’t appear to handle the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Buddhist children, that reduces the workload to 15% of the total — 378 million according to Population Reference Bureau. At an average (census) rate of 3.5 children per household, that’s 91.8 million homes. One presumes there’s at least one good child in each.

Santa has 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming he travels east to west (which seems logical). This works out to 822.6 visits per second.

This is to say that for each Christian household with good children, Santa has 1/1000th of a second to park, hop out of the sleigh, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left, get back up the chimney, get back into the sleigh and move on to the next house. Assuming that each of these 91.8 million stops are evenly distributed around the earth (which, of course, we know to be false but for the purposes of our calculations we will accept), we are now talking about .78 miles per household, a total trip of 75½ million miles, not counting stops to do what most of us must do at least once every 31 hours, plus feeding and etc.

This means that Santa’s sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second, 3,000 times the speed of sound. For purposes of comparison, the fastest man-made vehicle on earth, the Ulysses space probe, moves at a poky 27.4 miles per second – a conventional reindeer can run, tops, 15 miles per hour.

The payload on the sleigh adds another interesting element. Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium-sized lego set (two pounds), the sleigh is carrying 321,300 tons, not counting Santa, who is invariably described as overweight. On land, conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting that “flying reindeer” (see above) could pull TEN TIMES the normal amount, we cannot do the job with eight, or even nine. We need 214,200 reindeer. This increases the payload (not even counting the weight of the sleigh) – to 353,430 tons. Again, for comparison – this is four times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth. 353,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance – this will heat the reindeer up in the same fashion as spacecraft re-entering the earth’s atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer will absorb 14.3 QUINTILLION joules of energy. Per second. Each.

In short, they will burst into flame almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them, and create deafening sonic booms in their wake. The entire reindeer team will be vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a second. Santa, meanwhile, will be subjected to centrifugal forces 17,500.06 times greater than gravity. A 250-pound Santa (which seems ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back of his sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force.

In conclusion: If Santa ever DID deliver presents on Christmas Eve, he’s dead now.

At WordPress on Shirley Buxton’s site, a day of mourning is declared.

Edit: Friday Noon on the West Coast After further reflection, I feel the need to remind us all of the power of faith…and, anyway, why should we trust Spy Magazine? Read here what happened when a pastor declared Santa to be dead.

By Shirley Buxton

Still full of life and ready to be on the move, Shirley at 84 years old feels blessed to have lots of energy and to be full of optimism. She was married to Jerry for 63 years, and grieves yet at his death in August of 2019. They have 4 children, 13 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren...all beautiful and highly intelligent--of course. :)

23 replies on “Hate to Tell You This, but Santa is Dead”

Thank you for this post and all the comments that are here as a result. I do not have kids yet but have pondered the Santa dilemma for when and if children do come. This is all great food for thought from people I respect and admire. Happy


I’m sure my eldest daughter knows the ‘truth’ but prefers to ignore it! So for the moment, we all believe in Santa in our home.

Merry Christmas Shirley & Friends. Please visit my blog before you log-off!


Today I had the privilege of going to the mall to see Santa with my grandchildren. Savanna is 5 years old and today was the FIRST TIME she had ever seen Santa! I couldn’t believe it! When we arrived he was gone “feeding his reindeer” so we waited patiently until he returned. When he arrived I saw Savanna’s eyes light up with so much excitement and it was beautiful to see a child’s reaction to a “fairy tale world”. Our children are only children for a short time, and it is getting harder and harder to find a child with a pure and healthy imagination!! The world we live in is trying to steal it from them. So, let the children enjoy a little time of a “make believe world” and while they are having fun unwrapping presents “Santa brought on his sleigh”, we can get away from the pressures of “our world” and imagine with them, for it’s through the eyes of a child that we can find the pure, simple, and beautiful things of life! So, everyone please close your eyes and just IMAGINE that SANTA hasn’t died and MAYBE…just maybe he will come to your house this Christmas with a jolly HO, HO, HO, and you will find yourself smiling, again. MERRY CHRISTMAS to you all!


I don’t have children, though I’ve worked much with them over the years (and I was one once myself–FANCY THAT!). I’m kind of torn on the issue of Santa Claus. I believed when I was little, and when I found out he didn’t come on the roof with his reindeer, I WAS DEVASTATED! Why would anyone want to build up a child’s hopes only for a big letdown like that later on? Is it worth it to see a child’s disappointment like that? I actually think Santa is more for THE PARENT than for the child. That said, I’m really NOT against the tradition. I have a feeling that if I had children, I would take them, if they requested, to see Santa, but I would make sure they knew that only God REALLY sees them when they’re sleeping, knows when they’re awake, knows if they’d been bad or good, SO BE GOOD FOR GOODNESS SAKE (or else it’s the belt; cry about THAT). LOL


Hello Shirley,
I read your post and it upsets me to hear that so many people will try and prove Santa does not exist. My son, now 14, came up to me when he was only 10 and asked me about Santa – looked me straight in the eye and reminded me that I would be lying if I told him Santa was real! I was horrified! I remembered all my magical dreams and beliefs as a child and here my son was demanding for me to be truthful. I told him I helped Santa – that Santa is a spirit, one of generousity and love. And now that he knew, he was a helper now. He earned a special job – I reminded him about the giving tree at our Church and how we pick a star and purchase an item for the less fortunate – indeed there is a Santa and he lives in us all!
Merry Christmas to you and all your loved ones!


You know if we believed everything scientist said was true, we would believe we came from apes–Heaven Forbid. I for one know that I did not come from apes or any other animal. I was perfectly knit together in my mother’s womb who ultimately was created by GOD. So I think as long as we keep the true meaning of Christmas at the center of our Christmas Celebration, than Santa is welcome.

Have a Very Merry Christmas (and I hope Santa stops at your house.)


oh, pooh! maybe that was supposed to be a bah, why do these things slip away? seems to me like santa was mostly like somebody who was dead to begin with, wasn’t “he”???? (too many q’s, there) shut-in for a whole year, then he thinks he can let it all out in one night? what sort of ambitious folly is this?

even so, ashes could go back into the fireplace and that mourning sackcloth could be well used (well, it *could, couldn’t it?) to dry these unfounded tears for the dead redman. boo, and who? or something!

okay, I guess I should stop all my incessant whining (but, how can I actually?), before somebody finds the dis-harmony in it, and we get everybod seasoned all wrong like I’ve done way too often (once a year, at least) before.

happy is the memory of the non-phony christmas, unless we have another one soon! (parenthetically speaking, as it were)


Helen, I don’t know if it is the Communists, (might just be Democrats or Republicans!) but the plot to disprove Santa is wicked. And as you so capably discerned, the purveyors of such nonsense will be soundly discomfited.


The Santa story will always be real, if you just believe! And I do.

Sometimes scientists just seem to go out of their way to prove how silly it is the rely on nothing but proof. If this were true, then how do you explain what I saw at the Mall? And now Spy Magazine is the one who’s dead, punished for telling despicable lies.

Perhaps this is a part of a communist plot. 🙂


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