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Dear Dr. Eldritch,
Santa's disappeared! Christmas is in danger! Please help us!
All of us Elves have been working hard making toys. That's what we do! We make toys! I make those little finger-trap tubes. All the other elves laugh at me, and say that nobody really likes Finger Traps, and that all children are bored with them in two minutes.
But I know Santa believes in me, because I was in the Workshop late last night, trying to make the Best Finger Trap Ever. I was sad because it wasn't working, when Santa came in. "There, there, Little Timmy Elf," he said. "What's important is that you have the Christmas Spirit. With that in your heart, you can't help but succeed!" I felt better, and he went to check on the reindeer.
Just as he went out the door, I heard somebody say something in Belgian! Then it sounded like a fight! When I opened the door, Santa was gone! All that was left was his hat. I ran and told the other elves. They reported it to the Police. I kept telling everyone that we should find Santa, but they all said that we must keep making toys, and leave the investigation to the authorities.
I'm so worried. What if they can't find Santa? What will happen to Christmas? Please, what should I do?
-- Timmy, the Littlest Elf, at The North Pole
There, there, Little Timmy Elf! I'm sure it will work out fine!
You are right, though, Christmas has never been rescued by any bureaucracy (well, there was one time where the holiday-saving was done by Mindy, the Littlest FBI Agent, but that's the exception). And I'm certainly not saying that the Belgians are behind every plot to steal Christmas, but that's a good place to start. So follow the clues, and I'm certain they will lead to a final show-down which can only be resolved by an expert in Finger Trap Technology.
As you probably know, Christmas is the #1 holiday for being "At Risk" (#2: Arbor Day). During the last century alone, Christmas has been imperiled at least once each year, and occasionally two or three times. The stories of some of these events are rather well known. One of the most famous rescues was performed by Roger the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Yes, I know that's not the way the song tells it, but studio heads decided that his real name sounded too much like a verb. It could have been worse; the sleigh might have been guided by Roger's red-nosed brother, Bugger).
Although the "Christmas" holiday is a relatively recent development in Human History, a mid-winter festival of some sort has been celebrated since our prehistoric ancestors huddled in chilly caves to survive the cold. They weren't sure if the warm weather, edible plants, or even the sun itself would ever return. As they sat around the tiny fire, listening to the hunting cries of Saber-Toothed Penguins and the Giant Woolly Marmot, they thought, "This is Bad! It could be The End! Now I wish I hadn't hit Thog with my club!"
Those regrets, and the fear of the uncertain future, caused those cave-persons to look about at everyone around their fire and have warm and loving thoughts about them. Sometimes, those feelings would extend to everyone in all the other caves too, and the Cave Person would think about how much better the world would be if everyone were nice to each other. These feelings inspired Festive Rituals, where the cave people celebrated their togetherness and their hopes for the future. And then someone would start an argument about how the prehistoric buffalo was never cooked properly or why did they have to have the winter festival in the same cave all the time, and everything would be back to normal. These traditions continue today.
The point is, whether the rescuing is being done by children, animals, animated toys, elves, robots, or even a shipload of nineteenth-century pirates (it happened), saving the Holiday Spirit is now as much a part of the season as drinking Festive Holiday Beverages. Apparently it's too easy for most people to just keep doing the modern equivalent of clubbing Thog. Someone needs to remind everyone to spread a bit of Peace, Joy and Goodwill to All. So get out there and save the holiday, Little Timmy Elf! We're all counting on you!
Good luck, and let me know how it comes out!
-- Dr. Eldritch