Episode #174 — Santa

We strongly suspect that our long-time listeners (and first-time callers) aren’t the kinds of people who have their radios, satellite or otherwise, set to the 24-hour Christmas music station. At least not permanently. So maybe you haven’t been thinking deeply about holiday songs lyrics in the same way we have. And that’s good! We waste our time pondering the ridiculous so we can fill you in — because you have actual things to do with your time. “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” has been covered, so we figured we’d look elsewhere. For instance, does anyone else think “Holly Jolly Christmas” might be a kink-related holiday tune? We’re just saying: “Oh, ho, the mistletoe / hung where you can see / somebody waits for you / kiss her once for me.” Voyeurism? Is it a hot wife scenario? Either way, we don’t judge. We’re just surprised your local Lite FM station has no problem playing it. Of course, we might still be thinking about last week’s episode …

Let’s take a look at “Silent Night” next. Why is the holy infant described as both “tender” and “mild” like he’s on the menu at a Buffalo Wild Wings? We understand that those adjectives were used for other people more in ye olde horse-and-buggy times — we’re well-versed in common turns of phrase for early 19th century Europe. (Who isn’t?) But still. Was it a poor translation from the original German? The Brothers Grimm were German and collected/published folklore, including “Hansel and Gretel,” around the same time “Silent Night” was written. Can those dots be connected even though the song is technically Austrian? And finally, did you know the music for that carol was composed by Franz Xaver Gruber? Do you think the writers for Die Hard took Hans Gruber from that? Okay, in Googling it, we see that we’re very late to that comparison party.

So, we’ll step away from our carol queries and turn to our delightful guest for this week’s episode, Santa! (We’re focusing hard on our typing right now to make sure we don’t write “Satan” by mistake. That would be one hell of a mix-up.) While listening to this episode is wonderful, we also recommend checking it out on YouTube to get the full Santa white-bearded effect, especially if you haven’t been able to visit him at your local mall this year. We spoke with Saint Nick (aka Howard Graham) about what it’s been like for Santa during the pandemic, among lots of other things. In fact, we had so many questions about being Kris Kringle, we didn’t even give him an opportunity to ask us what we want for Christmas. Good thing we mailed our lists weeks ago. Wonder if the elves will have a hard time finding vintage Donny and Marie dolls for us.

Our Santa is no slouch, working his magic at all sorts of locations, including iconic New York City venues. He spoke with us about what it takes to be a great Santa, including how to gauge parents’ reactions to what their kids ask him for. And if the situation is sensitive because the child is ill, has lost a loved one, or is having a hard year in another way, Santa/Howard told us how he works through it with the kids to focus on what’s best for them.

If you’re wondering whether Santa thinks elves are a help or a hindrance (including that controversial figure, the Elf on the Shelf), we got some answers. And our Santa has an interesting perspective on what makes a good movie version of himself. He also got philosophical about the differences in what Santa represents to kids in old Hollywood classic films versus newer classics. We were also delighted to learn how Mrs. Claus is coming into her own.

Equally fascinating to us is the fact that there’s an International Brotherhood of Real Bearded Santas (IBRBS), the world’s largest organization of professional Santas and Mrs. Clauses, that Howard is involved with. He shared membership requirements with us, and you have one guess as to the first requirement to becoming a part of the organization … If you’d like to learn more about Howard, his vast experience as Santa, or the IBRBS, check out his Facebook page. Then form yourself a questionable caroling group and give your neighbors something to talk about! We suggest starting with “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” which basically proposes a sit-in until the home owners produce figgy pudding.

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