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The Suburbanite
  • FRANK WEAVER, JR: How does Santa do it each year?

  • I'M SURE BY now, boys and girls, you think you figured out how Santa delivers presents to good li'l kids around the world …and in just one night. But I doubt if anyone has really guessed Santa's secret.
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  • (Part 2 of 2)
    I'M SURE BY now, boys and girls, you think you figured out how Santa delivers presents to good li'l kids around the world …and in just one night. But I doubt if anyone has really guessed Santa's secret.
    You see, much of the speed that's used depends on a reindeer diet. We don't know the formula Santa uses for their feed, but we do know he keeps it a secret. If he didn't, we'd have flying dogs, cats, cows, sheep, horses, camels, tigers, chipmunks, elephants …why just about every animal if they ate the same diet.
    The rest depends on reindeer genes.
    You see kids, after working for so many years, reindeer – just like your mom and dad – retire. Auditions for a coveted spot in pulling the sleigh are held each summer. Through special training, much like track stars do when they go out for the Olympics, each new "rookie" reindeer hopes to be selected as one of the "Chosen Few."
    But only certain reindeer make the grade. That's because not all reindeer have the right degree of strength that the team requires. More than 250 reindeer try out but only a handful makes it. When they do, they receive the name of whichever reindeer they're replacing. That constant practicing, along with their special diet, help them make the sleigh fly.
    We know they're fed grain such as oats, wheat and barley. Their diet is also supplemented with fresh, sweet, green moss as well as carrots. As a matter of fact, they also need carrots to see good at night, especially during heavy snow storms. Otherwise, Santa might never find the right homes.
    We think much of their diet consists of carbohydrates. This allows them to store and then burn up the much needed energy at a faster rate. Of course, that diet, coupled with the carrots, apples and sugar cubes that millions of good li'l girls and boys leave on Christmas Eve for the reindeer also helps fuel their energy needs. Those carrot goodies they eat at many of the house stops, are somewhat like the fuel your dad puts in the family car whenever you're making a long trip.
    Believe me, when the day …or shall I say night … is ended, and they're back in their stalls at the North Pole, I imagine Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph know they've put in a hard night's work.
    There's also another part that plays a crucial role in the speed which the reindeer are able to achieve. It's right there in "A Visit from St. Nick," also known as "The Night Before Christmas." This poem, written nearly 200 years ago by C. Clement Moore, reads: "…when what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer. With a little ol' driver so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick."
    Page 2 of 3 - Now, kids, you may have seen reindeer at petting zoos and they were full size, not miniature. You may also claim to have seen Santa in parades and he was as big as your Dad. But we're not talking about those reindeer. These are the special ones Santa uses to pull the sleigh every Christmas Eve.
    So-called experts and even scientists the world over have tried to understand what Santa's North Pole magicians use to miniaturize the reindeer, sleigh and even Santa himself. That's how he's able to get down and back up the chimney. All we know for sure is that some kind of magic is used – good magic, not bad magic. After all, Santa would never ask girls and boys to be good and then he himself resort to something bad. Santa's just not like that.
    One other feature that enables Santa to deliver all the toys in one 24-hour period are the time zones. When it's six o'clock in Ohio, it may not be six o'clock in other parts of the world. It could be earlier or even later. That's because the world spins on an axis and, as it turns, time changes with it. So let's face it boys and girls, Santa's sleigh is one lean, clean, speedy machine.
    Santa starts at the International Date Line in the western Pacific Ocean and Japan is first. Then he works his way around the world from east to west. By the time he gets to Hawaii, he's finished and heads straight home to the North Pole where he sleeps for 24 hours.
    The world's time zone feature, along with the amazing speed of his reindeer and miniaturization enable Santa to finish his deliveries in one day.
    In addition, to make sure Santa and his sleigh don't run into terribly bad weather, the government's North American Aerospace Defense Command – also known as NORAD – tracks the sleigh from the moment it leaves the North Pole. You too can follow Santa each Christmas Eve on NORAD.
    The NORAD web site is www.noradsanta.org. You can track Santa's magical sleigh on your desk computers, laptops or smart phones, kids, but first ask you mother or father if it's okay with them.
    As for what you can do to help Santa: Leave him one cookie and a glass of milk. For his reindeer, leave a sugar cube, a carrot or a stalk of celery and only one. That's because as Santa moves from housetop to housetop, each reindeer takes a turn in eating the goodies you leave for them.
    The other thing you can do to make Santa's job a wee bit easier is to make sure the dog isn't left outside. Whenever they bark, they scare the reindeer. That's what happened to us last year. Sadie Lou Who barked so ferociously that Santa bypassed our house and didn't return until I brought in the dog.
    Page 3 of 3 - One last thing: Be sure to remind your dad NOT to build a fire in the fireplace until Christmas Day. Only then, after Santa has delivered all his gifts and is home resting, will it be okay to light the Yule log.
    Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!