Santa in the age of terrorism
“Christmas is a season for kindling the fire for hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.”
— Washington Irving
“Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.”
— Calvin Coolidge
It ain’t easy being St. Nick. To begin with, Santa has all the problems he’s always had. He has to manage a team of flying reindeer. He has to feed, clothe and employ an untold number of elves. He has to make toys for children all around the world, while also keeping track of whether they have behaved themselves or not, despite the fact that it’s not clear exactly how the naughty or nice scale operates. Then, on top of all of that, he has only 24 hours to deliver every single one of those presents across a planet nearly 25,000 miles around.
To make matters worse, the number of children on the planet has skyrocketed. World population didn’t hit two billion until about 1920 and now it’s around seven billion. That’s a pretty big increase in work for a guy who’s several centuries old. As if that wasn’t bad enough, now he has to deal with a world that is on edge about terrorism and patrolled by stealth aircraft, satellite imagery and unmanned drones.
Fortunately, there are people looking out for the right jolly old elf. Take, for example, Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary W. Black. Commissioner Black was apparently aware that Santa would be traveling with livestock. Reviewing routine paperwork, Commissioner Black came across an application filed by an S. Claus requesting permission to bring nine hoofed animals into the Peach State. The application even specified their names — Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph.
Unfortunately, the application did not include state identification. Laboratory testing and certificates of veterinary inspection were also missing. Apparently unsure of how to proceed, Commissioner Black said he consulted the state veterinarian and was assured that the animals posed no danger of bringing diseases into the local animal population “the reindeer will be moving quickly, will only prance and paw on rooftops and will not intermingle with any livestock.” He also noted that “Mr. Claus presented impeccable records.”
There is, however, no word from the Federal Aviation Administration on whether they’ll be making similar exceptions to laws governing federal airspace. After all, Santa will need to be moving at several hundred miles per second over the United States and will be passing over several restricted areas.
A group of law students at Suffolk University have even completed a guide on how to sue Santa for violations of airspace regulations, speeding, parking violations, trespassing, theft, tax evasion and use of non-domesticated animals. (Apparently, they hadn’t heard from Commissioner Black yet.)
Fortunately for Saint Nick, the North American Aerospace Defense Command has tracked Santa for years and seems to be just fine with his being in U.S. airspace. Santa has also been given a big thumbs up by the Supreme Court as being appropriate in public displays that also include Christmas trees, nativity scenes and “Seasons Greetings” banners.
I can’t speak to the physics of Santa making it around the world (nor the logistics of his entire operation) but it would appear that his flight through the United States has cleared the necessary legal hurdles so that everyone can have a very Merry Christmas.
David Hejmanowski is a magistrate and court administrator at the Delaware County Juvenile Court and a former assistant prosecuting attorney.