Little kids love talking to me. If I go out shopping, very small children in shopping carts will just stare at me when I walk by. When I’m at work, these same kids will stand there and ramble on about the stickers I give out, and about how their cat had poop stuck on their butt and daddy said really bad words when kitty sat on the white couch, and how grandma farts when you make her giggle. I have this weird childlike quality about me that just draws kids in.
Either that or they just love the hair. It’s a shade of red that’s natural enough to be work appropriate, but just unnatural enough to glow a little. It’s red enough to make me look like a cartoon character, but not the same red that would make you think I’m an undercover clown. Every child wants to be friends with a cartoon character and tell them everything. No one wants to be friends with a creepy ass undercover clown, hiding out in liquor stores though.
Anyway, two years ago I had this really sweet little guy come through my line all upset, with red crying eyes and the biggest tiny frown I have ever seen. No amount of stickers and candy canes could make him smile even a tiny bit. So of course, I asked him what was wrong.
“I tried to get Buster out of the closet and found Christmas!”
I know, that totally explains everything! The little guy’s poor mother had to explain that their dog Buster was hiding in her bedroom closet, and the little guy had gone in there to get him. Turns out the bedroom closet is also where she hid some wrapped Christmas presents.
“And some of the presents said ‘from Santa’ on them. Why would there be presents in there from Santa unless Santa doesn’t bring presents, and it’s just mom and dad buying me thing and putting his name on them?”
His mother looked at me with a strange sadness in her eyes. You could tell she was hoping for at least one more magical Christmas where her little boy believed in magic. Her little guy was heartbroken, and she had no clue what to do to make him understand that Christmas is still Christmas. So I did what I do in times of crisis: I improvised.
“Oh sweetheart, it’s ok. Santa gets so busy this time of year that he has to deliver some of his presents early. It’s all because of Bob Geldof.”
The little guy’s ears perked a little bit, and he gave me a quizzical look.
“Bob Geldof? Who’s that? What did he do?”
And thus, the legend of Bob Geldof began to take shape.
“Bob Geldof was a very important music person way way back in the 80’s. He wrote a bunch of songs and sang about how stupid Mondays are. And then one day, he discovered Africa.
Africa had always been there, and it is huge! A lot of people forget that Africa is a whole bunch of countries all mashed together in one big continent. Every country has its own people, and it’s own culture, and even though a lot of it looks like a much warmer version of Canada it can be very different than things here in Canada. But Bob Geldof only noticed two things when he found Africa: there was no snow, and people didn’t all celebrate Christmas.
And that’s ok. Not everyone celebrates Christmas. Even Jesus didn’t and it’s his holiday! He was Jewish so he would celebrate Haunnaka. And a lot of people in the world celebrate other things that aren’t Christmas. But Bob Geldof decided that Africa needs to celebrate Christmas, even though they have no snow. They could be like Florida or Mexico but on a different continent!
So instead of going to Africa and talking to people there about Christmas, he got a tonne of his famous musician friends to help him sing a song. He got people from a bunch of really famous bands, and Bono, to sing a song with him about how there’s no snow in Africa and we need to feed the world. And they made a music video, and a lot of people watched it, and it raised a whole lot of money to feed hungry people in Africa. But it also meant that more and more people were supposed to celebrate Christmas because of Bob Geldof.
Well, when Bob Geldof wrote this song he didn’t clear it with Santa! Santa Claus has a very busy night on Christmas Eve and has to fly all over the world. If someone suddenly gets millions of more people to celebrate Christmas, then he doesn’t have time to bring all the presents in one night! So Santa had to go to the United Nations and ask them for help.
Some countries wanted to start a war and to claim Christmas for themselves. Others wanted to tax Christmas, and only let the very very rich countries afford to have it every year. One country even wanted to outsource Christmas, and have people from a bunch of different countries put together Christmas and do all the work since they decided Santa couldn’t handle it. That gave Canada an idea.
‘Santa, what if you delivered a whole bunch of presents early to some countries! We could contact all the parents through our Secret Parent Network so none of the good little girls and boys finds out. The parents can hide all the presents from you with the presents they bought, and they can put them all out on Christmas Eve. This would let you still do Christmas without having to get it all done in one night!’
Santa thought about this for a while. He talked to his elves and held meetings with the reindeer. He even went to the Supreme Snowman Council to see what they thought! Finally, Santa came back to the United Nations. Of course, being Santa, he brought presents for everyone there. And he brought all the presents for their kids.
‘From this Christmas forward, I will bring the good people working in the United Nations building all of the Christmas presents I have for their family that year! And we will put the names of all the countries here in a hat, and I’ll pull out 20 of them every year in July. And those 20 countries will be the countries I bring Christmas presents to early that year! We’ll let the the parents in those countries know, but not the kids. And then we’ll put all the countries names back in the hat, and every country will pick out the name of another country. And we won’t tell anyone what country you picked, and you have to give them a present on the day I come here with my presents in November! We will call this “Secret Santa” and do it every year!’
And all the countries have done this every single year since 1985. They found ways to make sure all the countries take their turns getting early presents to hide, and make sure no countries have to do it too often. And that’s how Bob Geldof caused Santa Claus a whole bunch of grief about delivering presents to everyone in the world, but also lead Santa to create the Secret Santa we use at work.
Does that make much sense to you hun?”
I don’t know if the poor little guy bought it, or if I confused him just enough to make him forget what he was upset about. Either way, he stopped crying sometimes during my story and started munching on one of the candy canes I had given him.
From that day forth, I have used Bob Geldof to explain to any children I meet who find early gifts from Santa why they are there. Most of the parents just laugh, some give me weird looks, and a few need to be told who Bob Geldof is. But in the end, I think it helps spread Christmas cheer just a little bit more each year.