Where Have All The Santa’s Gone?

Remember a time when the arrival of Santa to the accompaniment of drumbeats and lilting tunes on ancient harmonicas used to be one of the highpoints of Christmas? Those were the times when Santa’s were Santa’s, right out of the picture books. Roly-poly elder citizens who interacted with family members, especially the children, giving away candies and balloons…

But not anymore.

Cut to the present times. A bunch of kids of various somatotypes whom you’ve never seen in your neighborhood materialize at your doorstep around Christmas week and belt out numbers you wouldn’t associate with the celebration of the birth of Christ, by a long shot. (There have been incidents were the far away beating of the telltale drums would prompt a whole neighborhood to retire early for the day!)

Santa would be this skinny apparition in ill-fitting garb, doing a jig more like a balancing act at a circus, jumping from foot to foot. For variety he’d perhaps do a shuffle to the beating of tin drums (thank the Lord they still exist). Reminds me of an incident someone told me not so long ago.

The carol was at this house doing its usual, tired jig, belting out songs to the tune of the latest blockbuster. With the last one done, it was time for Santa to distribute candies to the two little bored boys who were clearly waiting for the carol to go away. But good Lord! Where was Santa? Ugh… you couldn’t possibly go away without Santa doing the finishing up act.

Suddenly the carol was two singers less and then another as the rest tried to sing another song for the family. Apparently they’d gone out in search of Santa. And they promptly found him perched on a milestone, the bottom half of his Santa garb urgently tucked-in at the hip, lungi style, smoking a beedi, blissfully ignorant that he’d just held up a carol.

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