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Jim's Jottings


Early mythical Santas were tall and thin



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December 14, 2011 - So, I'm thinking: What can I write for this Christmas season that I haven't covered before?

And, why is Santa fat? Thin people can be jolly. If you were looking for a Santa history you'd probably go on the internet. I went to my World Book Encyclopedia, circa 1960.

It starts, "Santa Claus is a mythical old man who brings gifts to children at Christmas. Today's Santa Claus developed from a real person, Saint Nicholas, who lived in the A.D. 300s."

From then to 1809 Santa was imagined to be tall and thin. Washington Irving changed that look in his Knickerbocker's History of New York. He made Santa look like an early Dutch settler, a jolly fellow wearing a broad-brimmed hat and huge breeches and smoking a long pipe.

Since the whole idea is mythical, other writers added the white beard, shortened the pipe, made him round, put Santa in fur from head to foot and put him in a sleigh with eight reindeer.

Then in 1866 cartoonist Thomas Nast put Santa in a workshop with a pack of toys, stockings hung at a fireplace and a Christmas tree.

Scrooge isn't mentioned in this writing of Santa Claus, and, of course, he shouldn't be. And, I'm not looking up his origin.

I can imagine, however, that he would be thin, drawn face, threadbare clothes, hunched, heavy eyebrows, unkempt long hair and an odor. I continue to imagine it being difficult to draw an odor, even for a cartoonist.

The one thing fat Santas have that thin ones don't is jiggle. And, I can't imagine a "Ho-Ho-Ho" without a jiggle.

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Can't let a Jottings go by this time of year without a political comment. The last Republican president who was a lawyer was Gerald Ford, who left office 31 years ago. And, he was appointed, not elected.

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I was having a difficulty getting to sleep some months ago. A doctor prescribed Ambien. In one of my hospital over-nighters an aide gave me an Ambien.

Last summer I read in The Detroit News of police finding Ambien in a couple crack house raids.

Being curious, I asked my prescribing doctor about this. He said heroin and other drugs sometimes hype users so much they can't get to sleep.

It isn't heroin that keeps me awake, it's my active imagination, like questioning Santa's size.

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• I can' t remember ever riding in a pick-up truck.

• By mistake I hit a button on my car's dashboard. Soon my butt was getting hot. So, I turned ma'dog Shayna's seat heater on. Pretty soon she dropped her head a little, turned toward me with a twinkle in her eyes and coyly smiled.

• The major airlines are talking of downsizing.

At the same time plane-minded people are predicting a huge increase in the number of flights in the not too distant future. These people should read each others news releases and settle on one.

• Human Resources people should consider one more thing when hiring spokespersons. They should not put overweight people on camera urging people to cut-back on something.

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Johnny Carson: Misery is; going to a costume ball as a bubble dancer and finding out your date is going as a porcupine. Buying a sports car and discovering your bucket is bigger than the seat bucket. Learning the pitter patter of little feet around the house is because your wife is seeing a midget.

Jim Sherman, Sr. is president of Sherman Publications, Inc. He has penned "Jim's Jottings" since 1955.
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