Christmas Poem

For those of you that fall into the category of grumpy curmudgeon who grumbles that retail stores are already putting out Christmas paraphernalia, apologies for a Christmas-themed post in early November. Below is a poem I wrote for my in-laws. To put the poem in context, one of the first interactions I had with my now mother-in-law was her telling me that during Christmas she wasn’t having any of my skeptical, atheist nonsense. In her house everyone believed in Santa Clause or didn’t receive any presents from him; deal with it.

This poem was my response.

On the scientific validity of the magical, immortal man known as Santa Clause

 

Here is the problem I’m facing this season

I’ve devoted myself to both science and reason

But a challenge was stated that told me, in essence,

Believe in Santa or you won’t get any presents.

I could never accept such a fable I fear

A single man bringing gifts to each house once a year

Thus you see that I’m stuck in a quandary indeed

I don’t believe in Santa, but there’s shit that I need

Now I know what you’re thinking, what’s the problem? Just lie.

But clearly you’ve never looked in her eyes.

Those eyes that can clearly parse truth from cold fiction

They spot lies from afar and abhor contradiction

From seeing those eyes I can rightly deduct

If I lie to her face, rest assured I’ll  be fu… in trouble

But belief I’m afraid is beyond comprehension

To admit such a lie would create too much tension

Just one gift per person would mean seven billion

An impossible task for a single civilian

And the distance involved sends my mind to denials

Why just once round the earth is 25,000 miles

One trip in a day takes a thousand miles per hour

A speed that defies even modern day powers

Yes, belief is quite simply out of the question

But no presents this Christmas is cause for depression

The high stakes make trying worthwhile, that’s a given

So, I’ll conjure a theory that’s hypothesis-driven

A new version of Santa using modern day tools

One who fits all the data but breaks none of the rules

Einstein taught us that time can be relative

A theory regarded as highly superlative

Perhaps Santa experiences one night as many

A skill that would be highly desired by any

As an object that’s thrown travels faster and faster

Its experience of time becomes slower than the caster’s

Thus Santa may travel at speeds close to light

To slow down his clock every Christmas night

No, wait that is backwards. If he traveled so fast

After one night a century of time would have passed

These facts make me put this theory in the larder

In fact, this makes belief in Santa even harder!

Now I know if he traveled at such a great speed

He would have even less time for him to succeed

That was a step backwards, let’s try something else

To help me believe in this man and his elfs

Quantum mechanics! Now there’s a good theory

Though thinking of it too long makes me feel weary

Schrodinger taught us this bit of merriment

He summed up the theory with this thought experiment

If you place a cat in a box with some poison

and dog-lovers, don’t let your face look so joy-some

You put in the cat and you close up the lid

So you can’t peek in and see what it did

We would think that the cat’s either living or dead

It either swallowed the poison or laid down instead

But it’s actually in a superposition

Of both living and dead. Take that intuition.

But, when you open the box and look deep inside

You collapse the wave function, it’s now living or it’s died

Thus, Santa could exist in a quantum state

He goes to each house at once at an infinite rate

He must avoid being seen no matter how high the cost

Or his wave function would collapse and all would be lost

This explains all his rules about being good and not bad

“When I come you must all sleep, even your dad”

The rules about sleep are not a random compunction

He simply does not want you to collapse his wave function

But how do we know what he looks like at all?

That his belly is large and is stature so tall?

We know he likes cookies, and his cheeks have a glow

We know of his elves and that he says “ho ho ho”

These specific descriptions all make me conclude

The only way we could know this, was if he’d been viewed

Yet another theory I must throw in the can

Is there anything that can help me believe in this man?

Perhaps I should go back and look to the past

Just how did this Santa story first get cast?

The first mention of Santa was Nicholas of Myra

A man to whom history would become an admirer

He lived centuries ago in the far Middle East

So wealthy was he, that he held many feasts

But the rest of the country was terribly poor

This poverty the result of centuries of war

Young girls without money could never get wed

To prostitution they turned just to stay fed

To survive they did things that would make us all fret

You see, Doug, what happens when there’s no safety net

One man with three daughters had nothing to offer

To find them a groom he would need a large coffer

But he had no such treasure and said with a frown

“My darlings I fear I have let you all down”

Tomorrow his eldest was coming of age

She had only one option to earn living wage

The thought of her prowling the streets made him weep

His daughters each hugged him but said not a peep

They stayed there huddled by the fire for the night

Each silently dreading the next morning light

Their brooding silence was dashed with a crash!

On the floor by the fire sat a large bag of cash

They rushed to the window from whence it had came

To see who had thrown it. Oh what was his name?

But no one was standing there out in the night

Whoever had thrown it had moved out of sight

They hugged and they danced and a kiss they did share

The old man whispered “thanks” out into the air

The author of kindness was never revealed

But the daughter’s bad fate was no longer sealed

That night though no one yet knew of his name

The legend of Santa was born all the same

The next year when the second daughter faced the same plight

At the window they waited long into the night

They wondered this time would someone once again care?

As the long night drew on they began to despair

Then finally it happened just before dawn

A bag flew through the window facing their lawn

Once again no one stood outside on the slope

The old man whispered “thank you for giving us hope.”

When his last daughter’s turn finally came

He hid outside to learn their benefactor’s name

This time the act he would not miss

When he found the kind man they’d each give him a kiss

He waited for hours until night turned to day

But no stranger came down their poor little way

He cried “my daughter is bound for a hard life of sin”

Then his girl shouted “Daddy, Daddy come in!”

“The money was dropped down the chimney” she cried

“It fell into this stocking I’d hung up to dry”

By Nicholas each of his daughters were saved

But he never discovered the person who gave

But why did Nicholas work so hard to conceal?

Why was this charity not marked with his seal?

The answer is found by what happened next

You see, the man and his daughters had become rather vexed

Their lives had been saved but there was no one to thank

Each attempt to find him came up blank

So finally they thanked him the only way they knew how

They gave gifts to the poor saying “you pass it on now”

Each year gifts were given, some large and some small

Before long the custom had spread to them all

On doorsteps, down chimneys or through windows they flew

But most gifts came in stockings from someone they knew

Years later they learned who the first giver was

From then on each gift read “from Saint Nicholas”

His anonymous intent can now plainly be seen

His vision played out, this is what we can glean

His acts were not symbols of one really great man

To highlight himself was never his plan

No, by hiding and never answering their call

He demonstrated the great charity in us all

Sixteen centuries have passed, from then to now

And each year we witness this miracle and wonder how

Billions of presents across thousands of miles

In every stocking bringing uncounted smiles

So many presents in so many towns

No wonder most think therefore magic abounds

The gifts greater than any economy could afford

More than a nation could obtain by gold or by sword

The reach of the charity beyond anyone’s arms

From Japanese towns to remote British farms

From examining Santa so closely I see

My arguments against him now prove he must be

Not an immortal man with magic cervidae

Nor an arctic, eccentric, morality spy

Santa’s the gift one man gave years ago

A seed planted in hearts that now gets to grow

Why did Saint Clause keep his gifts undisclosed?

To show the kindness in each of us overtly exposed

The sheer impossibility of scale

Itself proves the validity of this tale

As I close this journey I come to this conclusion

Although it took a while I found a good solution

Belief in Santa clause does not require magic

Nor forsaking rationality or anything so tragic

It only takes some kindness, generosity and love

A gesture that goes beyond and above

With great relief I can now proudly say

My belief in Santa Clause is no longer so gray

I visit him on weekends and talk to him at night

He offers sound advice, and makes my burden light

His gifts live in my kitchen, and sometimes come as cards

His kindness and his love, I so highly regard

Doug, Charlene, I can tell you this is true

I do believe in Santa Clause, I do because I know you

And Charlene, just in case this isn’t enough

I believe in reindeer, magic and all of that stuff

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