While doing some Christmas shopping I overheard an assistant ask a young customer what he wanted Santa Claus* to bring him for Christmas. The little boy's face lit up as he answered enthusiastically, "A baby brother." Upon hearing this request, his mother patted him on the head and replied sweetly, "I'm afraid there just aren't enough shopping days left, dear."
* (Santa Claus - the English variation of the Dutch corruption (Sinter Klaas) of the name of St. Nicholas. In the Netherlands and Belgium, St. Nicholas' Day, December 6, is the children's festival, on the eve of which the saint is supposed to come riding from Spain with presents for all good children. He places these in the shoe which each child has left in the hearth, taking in exchange the carrot left in the shoe for his horse. Dutch 17th-century settlers in America took the tradition with them, and English settlers adopted it but transferred its observance to Christmas Eve. Thus in America and (from late 18th century) England, Santa Claus has become identified with Father Christmas, and is a figure greatly encouraged by shops in the interests of trade. White-bearded and merry, in red cloak and hood, he comes from the North Pole in a sledge drawn by reindeer (a borrowing from Hans Andersen's stories), enters houses by a chimney, and leaves his presents in the stocking (or pillowcase) hung up by each child.)
A pert five-year-old of our acquaintance said to her mother rather smugly the other day, "You know what? I don't believe in Santa Claus any more. And you know what else? I don't believe in William the Conqueror* any more."
* (William the Conqueror - reigned 1066-1086.)
The Post Office received a letter addressed to the North Pole which read: Dear Santa, please send me a good-behaviour kit* at once.
* (a good behaviour kit (cf. a first 9 aid kit) - a non-existent set of things which would help the child to behave himself.)
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