“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.