Santa is kind of like FedEx

Thing 2 (who’s 7 now) is having doubts and asked me the other day whether Santa Claus is real.

I asked him what he thought, and he said he wasn’t sure but that he didn’t see any way that one man on one sleigh could deliver all those toys to every kid on the planet in just one night.

I said that’s not how it works.

I explained that Santa used to deliver all those toys personally. back in the old days, when the population was a lot smaller, but that he uses a lot of helpers these days.

Santa is kind of like FedEx, I said. One truck couldn’t possibly deliver all those packages to all those homes and businesses in all those countries in one 24-hour period, I said, but a fleet of trucks and planes certainly could.

I said Santa runs the operation. He’s like the CEO. The toys are made by the toy companies, not elves. These days, the elves run the warehouse and oversee distribution.

The toys are delivered first to Santa’s headquarters at the North Pole and then, on Christmas Eve, they’re flown on big cargo planes from the central warehouse to regional distribution centers all over the world and then to local distribution centers, where the toys are placed on trucks and driven to people’s homes.

That’s a lot easier and a lot more efficient than trying to pile all those toys on just one sleigh, I said. The delivery truck drivers drink the milk and cookies and send any leftovers to the North Pole, where Santa shares them with the elves.

Thing 2 thought about it for a moment or two. “I don’t get it,” he said.

That’s OK, I said.

In this 1927 photo, Santa Claus (left) receives his pilot’s license from William P. MacCracken (seated) and Clarence M. Young of the U.S. Department of Commerce. PHOTO: Library of Congress

Christmas playlist (adjusted for climate change)

It’s the middle of December and almost 70 degrees here in Tennessee. says it’s cold up North, along the Canadian border, but most of the country is pretty mild. Parts of the country could even be described as balmy.

I can’t remember the last white Christmas, and thanks to climate change, it could be a while before we have another one.

This means a lot of the songs on the Christmas station are meaningless to most Americans. We have no first-hand knowledge of sleigh rides or winter wonderlands. So, as a public service, I’ve compiled a list of some of the Christmas songs we can retire now.

  • “Sleigh Ride” and “Winter Wonderland.” Also, “Jingle Bells.” You can’t travel in a one-horse open sleigh without snow, and there’s no snow. If you wanted to, though, you could sing “Jingle Bells” and substitute “a four-door Chevrolet” for “a one-horse open sleigh,” or you could go with the alternative lyrics about Batman:
  • “Frosty the Snowman.” It’s probably time to retire “Frosty,” anyway, because sentient snowmen are inherently creepy.
  • “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” First, it isn’t cold outside. Second, let’s be honest: There’s a thin line between flirty and icky, and, if you listen to the lyrics, this one’s icky. (“Say, what’s in this drink?” Probably a roofie.)
  • “Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!” Oh, the weather outside is nice, actually.
  • “It’s a Marshmallow World.” No, it’s not.
  • “Do They Know It’s Christmas.” I know it was written for a good cause (Ethiopian famine relief), but it’s a terrible song. “And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmastime,” but that’s true of most of the planet, because it’s summer in the southern hemisphere, remember. Besides, Bono’s line, “Well, tonight, thank God it’s them instead of you” is just callous and smug. What he’s saying, basically, is that we should go, “Dear God, if you have to starve someone, thanks for starving all those Ethiopian children instead of me.”

Ironically, one song we can keep is “White Christmas,” because it’s about dreaming of a white Christmas, just like the ones I used to know, and we can keep “Snow Miser/Heat Miser,” from the 1974 Christmas special, “The Year Without a Santa Claus,” because it’s all about the battle over whether to have a white or a balmy Christmas. In fact, all things considered, this might be the perfect wintry Christmas song.

‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ and ‘Star Wars’ are basically the same movie

English: Screenshot of Jimmy Stewart and Donna...
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I posted something the other day about how much I like “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and over the past 18 months, I’ve posted several things about “Star Wars,” and last night I realized something:

“It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Star Wars” are basically the same movie:

It’s a Wonderful Life: George Bailey is a small-town boy who can’t wait to leave home and travel around the world.
Star Wars: Luke Skywalker is a small-town boy who can’t wait to leave home and travel throughout the galaxy.

It’s a Wonderful Life: George postpones college to help his father with the family’s building and loan.
Star Wars: Luke postpones going to the academy to help his uncle with the family farm.

It’s a Wonderful Life: When it’s time for George to finally leave, George’s father asks him to stay a while longer.
Star Wars: When it’s time for Luke to finally leave, Luke’s uncle asks him to stay a while longer.

It’s a Wonderful Life: Soon after talking with George about leaving home, George’s father dies of a heart attack.
Star Wars: Soon after talking with Luke about leaving home, Luke’s aunt and uncle are killed in a stormtrooper attack.

It’s a Wonderful Life: With his father gone, George has no choice but to run a building and loan, like his father.
Star Wars: With his aunt and uncle gone, Luke has no choice but to learn the ways of the Force and become a Jedi Knight, like his father.

The three lead protagonists of Star Wars, from...
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It’s a Wonderful Life: George’s family business is threatened Potter, whose haranguing helped drive George’s father to the grave.
Star Wars: Luke’s friends in the rebellion are threatened by Vader, who betrayed and murdered Luke’s father (kind of).

It’s a Wonderful Life: George is jealous of his friend, Sam Wainwright, who used to date George’s wife, Mary.
Star Wars: Luke his jealous of his friend, Han Solo, who’d like to, um, “date” Princess Leia.

It’s a Wonderful Life: Potter tries to destroy the Bailey Building and Loan Association by hiring George away.
Star Wars: Vader tries to destroy the Jedi Knights by turning Luke to the Dark Side of the Force.

It’s a Wonderful Life: Uncle Bill accidentally gives Potter $8,000 in cash. Potter hopes the mistake will finally crush the building and loan.
Star Wars: Vader tracks the Millennium Falcon to the Rebels’ secret base, where he hopes to finally crush the rebellion.

It’s a Wonderful Life: As the bank examiner and sheriff prepare to arrest George, George receives a telegram: “Mr. Gower cables you need cash. Stop. My office instructed to advance you up to $25,000. Stop. Hee-haw and merry Christmas, Sam Wainwright.”
Star Wars: “Yee-haw, now let’s blow this thing so we can go home!”

In the earlier post about “It’s a Wonderful Life,” I mentioned Roger Ebert’s review where he calls the movie “ageless,” and I think what makes it work as well now as it did when it was release 65 years ago is that George Bailey’s story is the essentially same as every hero’s story:

George Bailey might not save the galaxy, but he gives up a life of travel and adventure to raise a family and make his hometown a better place to live, and if that’s not heroic, I don’t know what is.