T HOPE the S.P.C.S.C. will not lbe confused with any one of the many societies known to the pubric by their initials. There are, in fact, far too many societies at the present time, and more being formed each day, but this does not deter me from founding' a new one, and one that is urgently needed.
It is the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Santa Claus, the kindly bewhiskered old philanthropist known for centuries as a Saint, but now known principally as an adjunct to Big Business in the Big Stores not only at Christmas time, but for almost six months of the year. Nowadays good Saint Nicholas is a displaced person and, not only in England, but behind the Iron Curtain, he is having a very rough time.
I hear that in Czechoslovakia he has been liquidated and replaced by "Father Frost" — rather a chilly thought, and an idea which will. I am sure, have a very cold reception. No doubt this Communist Claus wears icicles on his chin instead of a beard, and appears in a drosky drawn by deviationists instead of reindeer. And in each red stocking he will place that greatest of all faity stories, "Das
111111I1111111111111111111I11111111111Ml1111111111l111111111111111l Kapital." by jolly old Uncle Karl, a book beloved of all kiddies, especially by those who are in their second childhood.
What toys can the frigid Father Frost distribute to the little Czechs? Here, indeed, is a problem for the Politburo (Juvenile Division) even in the land of toy-makers. Little hammers to knock the blocks off the Imperialists, and teeny weeny sickles to cut the legs from under those who fail to toe the party line? So many traditional toys have a capitalistic connection : the Jack-in-the-Box, for example. Surely Jack personifies the spirit of the jumped-up bourgeoisie? And Punch—there's a saboteur if ever there was one!
Yet, we must sympathise with this most unholy father; he has only to make one false step, he has only to slide down the wrong chimney, and he will spend his Christmas in a concentration camp. Or will the children refuse to accept this innovation. will the real revolt come from the nursery. instead of being engineered by the emissaries of the Vatican? Let us hope so.
BUT what of Christmas in Yugoslavia? Surely Santa Claus will not be welcome there where there can be no rival to the one and only Tito—the voice that breathed o'er Eden. Although Santa Claus could hardly be called a Western importation, there should he no need of his services in such a land of plenty, so fair a paradise of freedom and fun.
Should we not prepare for the visit of Comrade Tito to our own shores by presenting our children with a toy Tito so as to familiarise them with him. preferably in the form of a doll which says "No" when pressed— or should we put him in a cracker.
For real calculated cruelty to Santa Claus, however, we must come much
nearer home. How must he feel when clad in a heavy fur-trimmed dressing gown, snow boots and a beard which must tickle like the devil. He has to come to England not on Christmas Eve, as of yore, but almost in the middle of summer.
For weeks on end, while cricket is still being played at Lords, he has to bend down all day long to listen to impossible children asking for improbable presents, while their agitated parents endeavour to drag them protestingly away.
I have even seen him careering along the streets on a motor-scooter! Each year he arrives earlier and leaves later. How he must long to 'return to his native land, "where treetops glisten and children listen for sounds of sleigh bells in the snow."
AND it isn't as if there were only one of him; as Christmas approaches not only do the stores fill up with Sanas, but the streets as well, There they stand, poor, dilapidated, shabby Santas, peddling toys to the utter bewilderment of the children who believe in one Father Christmas, and simply cannot stomach hundreds of him.
This year, in all probability, Santa will have a happy line in toy coshes and natty knuckle dusters, for, according to the psychologists, no child should be deprived of anything in case it causes repressions in later life.
I have every sympathy with the poor old impersonator of Santa Claus whom I once saw being run-in for being drunk in Oxford Street—a sad sight, but one that was not without its funny side. He, at least, had seen through this miserable masquerade and preferred to spend his Christmas in the lock-up.
The necessity for the formation of the S.P.C.S.C. must then be obvious. Let us restore to Saint Nicholas the dignity that once was his, let us preserve his popularity as a benevolent saint, the personification of kindness and charity, the beloved distributor of well-earned rewards.
There must, I am sure, be many a crib concealed behind the Iron Curtain, and at Christmas time it's the crib that matters. So long as we don't conceal the crib behind our own curtains, we are sure of a happy and holy Christmas, and do let us be kind to Santa Claus.