Santa is kind of like FedEx

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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.

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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

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The absolutely true story of the ‘ghost’ that rolled my toy across the room

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Let me start by saying that I don’t believe in ghosts or the supernatural, but when I was 4 or 5, my mother and I saw part of a toy rocket flip onto its side and roll across the living room floor by itself.

It was an Apollo Moon Rocket, like the one in the picture. It was probably 12 inches tall and maybe 2 inches across. It had 5 stages: the capsule, the thing the capsule sat on, 2 tubes that formed the body and a round base with 5 nozzles on the bottom but no moving parts, no springs or anything that would make it move by itself.

One afternoon, the parts of the rocket were scattered across the floor, and the base was lying flat, nozzles down. I was sitting on Mom’s lap on the couch watching TV when the base stood on edge, rolled 4 or 5 feet across the floor and fell over onto the nozzles.

It scared the crap out of me.

Mom tried to calm me down. I remember her telling me that it wasn’t a ghost, although she couldn’t explain why it stood on its side and rolled across the room.

When Dad came home from work, I remember running over to tell him what happened, and even though I had a witness, I don’t think he entirely believed me, and, frankly, I don’t blame him.

I doubted the story myself until I asked Mom about it a few years ago. She said it happened, that it wasn’t a trick, that no one touched it, no one was near it, that nothing else in the house moved, just the rocket part.

Like I said, I don’t believe in the paranormal. I’m sure there’s some logical explanation, but damned if I can think of one.

There’s a toy museum in our living room

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We have a toy museum on the living room floor, and in the bonus room, and in a corner of the kitchen.

Our collection includes probably 100 vintage Hot Wheels, vintage and contemporary Little People playsets, a couple bins of Thomas the Tank Engine trains and track pieces, a couple of lightsabers, some Tonka trucks, at least Trouble board games, several sets of Uno cards, God knows how many action figures and vehicles from McDonald’s Happy Meals and a Bat Cave with a Batmobile and a Batcopter and a Joker-Mobile.

As things tend to do, our toy collection got out of hand slowing, a piece or two at a time.

It turns out that our parents didn’t throw anything away. They saved everything, and when the grandchildren came, they unboxed the toys and sent them to us, which was really sweet, but Thing 2 (the 5-year-old) also has Thing 1′s old toys and a bunch of toys of his own toys, too.

I had this bright idea a while back: For every new (or used) toy that comes in, one goes out to the garage.

That lasted about a day, until Thing 2 decided he really, really, really needed that one fire truck. (Serves me right for getting see-through bins).

So, our house is a mess.

On the other hand, he’s growing up fast, like his sister did. So, the house is cluttered with old toys. I’m going to feel worse when he outgrows them.