Charles Trimble: Santa in the age of climate change
I would first ask my readers, especially those who are serious about global warming, to know that I am not making fun of their hero, Al Gore. After all, using the name of Al Gore and the word fun on even the same page is oxymoronic. Nor do I want to be seen as belittling their deep anxiety over global warming and humanity’s slim chances of survival if we don’t do something about it.

News from the Copenhagen summit on global warming has got me concerned, not only over the dire predictions of Armageddon, but another thing more imminent that is being overlooked. For this eventuality will cause political strife in America that would make the health care reform melee in Congress seem like a 1960s love-in by comparison.

In a keynote speech at the summit, Mr. Gore quoted one of his dedicated team of scientists as predicting that the polar ice cap would melt in seven years, and leave only what has been there since earth's creation, an ocean.

My concern, therefore, is about Santa Claus. We will have to create a whole new Santa myth for children of generations hence. Gone will be the sleigh and the reindeer to pull it, for sleighs don't float well, and reindeer aren't great swimmers and would become prey to killer whales and sharks even if they did. And what about the little elves who slave happily for Santa to fill the wish lists of toys, dolls, and violent electronic games for deserving children?

Mrs. Santa would finally have cause to persuade her chubby hubby to move to Phoenix and get a real job. There is, after all, a much better social life even in Phoenix than at the North Pole.

What a tragedy it would be; who will tell the children? Or worse, who will tell Senator Harry Reid and Speaker Nancy Pelosi that Santa is gone – or that Santa was one great sham put over on generations of innocent little minds of children and gullible voters?

My good friend Omahan Walt Duda came up with a possible answer based on another concern emanating from the great global warming terror – the appearance of massive new glaciers in the Himalayas, presumably from evaporation of North Pole ice. Duda opines that we could move Santa's mythical residence and workshop to Nepal or Tibet. Maybe we could even enlist the Yeti himself to be the new Santa, pulled around the world by yaks.

But we must get busy, for seven years is just a blink in time. This may demand emergency federal funds to hire the best American minds in the arts, sciences and communications to help reinvent Santa.

With “Night Before Christmas” poet Clement Clarke Moore, who created the American Santa, and Thomas Nast who illustrated Moore’s creation both long dead, we'd have to have the arts involved.

The makeover will be contentious indeed. To satisfy the vegans and health nuts, for instance, the jolly fat-man image has got to go, for what kind of role model is that for our children? How can anyone but lithe, diet conscious sufferers be truly happy? This would call for huckster advertising men like those who sold us the fat man in the first place.

Then comes the biggie: Why a man? Why not a woman? I have neither the imagination nor the guts to even approach this mud match.

But as in all reforms, we might as well go all the way and rename the mythical philanthropist, for the word Santa presumes Christianity. Santa in Latin languages means holy or sacred. Santa Claus derives, some say, from Saint Nicholas. The atheists would put up such a fuss and with the support of the ACLU, would fight to free our children from the burden of faith and irrational joy that the name Santa evokes in their little minds and dreams.

Science fiction writers would be called upon to invent a new system of hypersonic transportation to carry the new creation to every farm, town, Indian reservation, and city in much of North America in twenty-four hours or less. And with feelings so intense about global warming, the chimney itself represents an affront to our environment, demanding a new entry for Santa into homes to deliver gifts to children; which beget challenges that portend even greater horrors – getting lawyers involved.

With the disappearance of Santa and not even a myth to assuage our angst over global warming, I say, “Forget it, Al Gore – leave us be.” Let us resign ourselves to the ageless process of the universe, and go the way of the dinosaur, the mastodon, and other critters that fell to asteroid impact, volcanoes, and periodic Ice Ages. As prehistoric life did for us, let us be resolved to the stuff that greases axles of evolution eons hence.

Enjoy a Merry Christmas while we still have Santa.

Charles “Chuck” Trimble, Oglala Lakota, was principal founder of the American Indian Press Association, and served as Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indians from 1972-78. He is retired and lives in Omaha, Nebraska. He may be reached at His website is

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