Sanity Clause? There ain't no Sanity Clause! Those infamous words uttered so nonchalantly by the brilliant Groucho Marx aeons ago, lead us to the inevitable question, which is raised every year during the festive season in many parts of the planet: Is there really not a Santa?
Millions upon millions of children hang up their stockings or pillowcases, pretending they have been good all year. Or at least hope Father Christmas didn't notice their wrongdoing, having been kept far too busy with his eye on that little naughty brat who lives down the road. Seemingly endless nights of worrying, wishing and hoping drag on timelessly till that wonderful morning arrives way before dawn on the 25th of December. And there they are; presents delivered by Santa. So he does exist, Mister Marx.
Other youngsters in numerous countries around the globe have, by this time finished their celebrations, not due simply to different timezones. They are busy upholding traditions focussed on a day earlier. In Germany, for instance, Weihnachten is still traditionally spent feasting and opening presents with the family on the afternoon or evening of the 24th rather than on the 25th.
And after Santa has been busy circling the globe, to where does he return? The Finns believe most firmly that Santa lives way up there in snowy Lapland in his Korvatunturi. So too do their postal service who deliver tons and tons of letters penned in all manner of languages to Mr. Guess Who. Many thousands of international visitors are also believers, as is Finnair, the official Finnish carrier; it has been known to say so on their planes.
Many North Americans might beg to disagree: that rather rotund, cheerful, white bearded gent in the bright red robe would like us to think that he's the official Mr Christmas and from the US. Succeeds rather well at it too.
Often at this time of the year though, a belief in religious celebrations that occur at other times of the year on other timelines to Christianity is naturally momentarily forgotten. Troubled times around the globe also mean displaced families with parents away from the home and children separated from their siblings.
So whatever your beliefs, wherever you may find yourself and with whomever you are spending Christmastime, we wish you well. Whether slurping eggnog in the US, singing "Oh Tannenbaum" in Germany, in a pub in the UK, sauna in Finland or basking in the sun halfway around the globe with a cocktail. On your own or in company: good health, happiness and a fine 2011 to all.