First, let’s think about how many people Santa has to visit, not how many he should visit. Christmas, being a Christian holiday, immediately drops the number from 6.5 billion people to 2.2 billion. So, even if little Amir behaved well throughout the year, obeying his parents, praying five times a day and doing his shores, Santa will not drop by his house in Lebanon and consume his baklava and goat milk.
2.2 billion Christians is still a staggering number. Rudolf may still need to work out the theory of relativity before leading his compadres on their holiday mission. However, being Christian doesn’t automatically put you on the list, it merely gives you the right to grab a number and wait for your turn.
For one, you have to be the right type of Christian. Jehovah Witnesses – Michael Jackson when he was alive notwithstanding – do not celebrate Christmas, so Santa doesn’t have to go to them. The Big Jolly guy can scratch 7.2 million names. Furthermore, if you adhere to the Orthodox Church, your present is delayed due to a technical discrepancy hundreds of years old. Minus 300 million, and counting.
Santa, however, is also able to outsource his work and pay private contractors to do the job. For one, in many Latin American countries Santa is never expected to bring gifts. In Colombia, Baby Jesus does the heavy lifting, so that’s 40 million souls off of Santa’s list. Then take Mexico and Venezuela, for example, where, Santa not only contracts out to the three Magi, he prorogues the delivery to January 6th. There goes another 137 million.
Whether,baby Jesus or the three Magi stick to regulation and deliver presents to those who deserve, or even if all funds are spent responsibly, are out of Santa’s hands. He contracted them and passed on responsibility. He is lucky the Auditor General Sheila Fraser won’t come after him; even she expects a present.
Santa also has to be concerned about safety otherwise he may have to pay for WCB and other insurance expenses that would make his job a total misery if not impossible. All Christmas gift production and delivery personnel must strictly abide by the safety code which seeks to keep all staff safe from bodily or mental injury. This eliminates war zones, health risks, places struck by natural disasters, and areas deemed too dangerous due to high criminal activity.
Taking the Christian populations of the biggest war zones, Congo, Sudan and Iraq, plus those of the biggest risk of going to war – South Korea and India to pick just two – Santa can ignore 98 million people. China, though in peace, has suffered a combination of civil unrest, natural disasters and draconian policies that disqualify its Christian population – dock 53 million off. Add the top 5 most dangerous cities (Ciudad Juarez, Caracas and Mogadishu have already been eliminated based on other criteria)and you can subtract another 3.4 million. And that is not counting places like Rio de Janeiro. Finally add health and natural hazards of the year – Haiti, Chile, and Iceland – and voila, Santa has to worry about 25 million less.
Wow, with a few simple rules and convenient private contractors, Santa has reduced his load from 6.5 billion to 1.536 billion. The number still needs to drop even further if he is to accomplish his goal. So, he goes to the naughty or nice list.
Let’s start with the obviously naughty: the prison population. These unfortunate souls are undeniably naughty, or are at risk of being forced to do the naughty. In the US alone, that means 2 million souls that go without presents this year. If we take the prison populations from countries that are predominantly Christian (non-Orthodox) from the Americas and Europe alone, that means 3 086 612, are ineligible for a gift. All lumps of coal are either delivered via Fed Ex or are strictly metaphorical.
Then are the accused of committing a crime. This number is terribly hard to obtain with my limited resources, but, to give you a small idea, in Canada 2 million crimes are reported each year. So Santa cannot put them on the list at all until their situation’s sorted out. So all suspects whose name’s been cleared have to fill out the Delayed Christmas Cheer Classification Form and attach all necessary documents.
Being a Christian, Santa will likely use religious dogma to decide who gets a lump of coal and who will enjoy a brand new iPhone 4G. Now, this gets dicey because official statistics on sin are unreliable at best, which means I cannot get you an exact number. All I know is that it must be huge.
Santa could be really strict and eliminate countries based on their laws, thus disqualifying jurisdictions that approve abortion or homosexuality – in other words most of Christendom. He could also disqualify people based on the Ten Commandments or on the milliard of contradictory rules hidden in volumes of religious rules. Clearly, this is in Santa’s best interest, for he has presents to deliver and the laws of physics are the only ones he cannot break – flying reindeer notwithstanding. How he decides is beyond me, but surely he has found a way to eliminate a long list of names from the Nice List based on morality alone. After all, as Mathew Good says, if heaven is for clean people, it is vacant.
If Santa and his yearly mission were real, I would bet my soul that he is more likely to use a library full of policies and regulations to keep his number of target houses to a bare minimum. The way he would choose his targets would have to follow very cynical yet real aspects of life on Earth.
Lucky for us who celebrate Christmas, the fat guy with questionable fashion is as real as Zeus on Mount Olympus. Those who believe in him still, are able to enjoy the dream without worrying about the logistical aspects of the operation. For the rest of us, the cheer and love – along with the gifts – comes from pure human effort, and the intangible yet very present feeling of love among family and friends.
Merry Christmas to all! And I really mean ALL, Christians and non-Christians alike, for what I wish you is the happiness this holiday symbolizes, not the rest of the baggage.
Enjoy the holidays.