Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He's a monster. He's dangerous, conniving and megalomaniacal.

December 20, 1992|By TONY PROSCIO

MIAMI — Miami.--Yo, Virginia. Mind if we go over this one more time?

CIn 1897, you wrote a sweet little letter to the New York Sun trying to get the last word on whether there's a Santa Claus, and they wrote back a treacly sort of answer about poetry, fancy and romance.

L I'm not sure you really got what you were looking for there.

''Not believe in Santa Claus!'' they swooned. ''You might as well not believe in fairies!'' Well, now.

Proving that this is a really heads-up newspaper (and noting that you won't find any copies of the New York Sun around any more, for several excellent reasons), I'd like to give you a straight answer. You want fairies and treacle, you got the wrong paper. You want the straight skinny, look no further.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He's a monster. He's dangerous, conniving and megalomaniacal.

Think about it for a second. Didn't it ever seem odd to you that the cute little song about him Comin' to Town begins ''You better watch out?''

This guy's out for power. Not just worldly power, but other-worldly. Little by little, in the minds of unsuspecting children he has assumed the role of God.

Think about this. Contented, white-bearded, round sort of guy. Defies gravity. Dwells in inaccessible realms above us (well, to the north of us, anyhow).

Claims immortality and omniscience.

Don't believe me? His propagandists at the New York Sun wrote to you: ''Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding. He lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.''

Did they say glad? Are you glad about this? If I understand this correctly, he sees you when you're sleeping. He knows when you're awake. Do you find this a little creepy? He knows if you've been bad or good. Have you ever read ''1984?''

He makes a list. Naughty? Check. Nice? Double-check. Then he dispenses material rewards to his supporters -- not inner light, mind you, not grace or wisdom, nothing remotely connected to Christmas or Hanukkah. Tin horns. Dolls. Boats. Things with resale value.

Is it any wonder, Virginia, that more and more, your little friends and their parents and pastors and politicians have ended up confusing Santa Claus and God? Listen to them talk about the Deity and see if I'm wrong:

Someone obsessed with your private moments, in whose sight a person is either bad or good but never both. One ensconced in frosty climes, accepting aid and counsel only from a privileged few. A court without appeal, whose list of the ''naughty'' is vast and terrible, but whose rewards to the ''nice'' tend toward the gilt-edged.

When you think about Santa Claus, Virginia, don't you get a better understanding of Pat Buchanan? Doesn't ''supply-side'' have a more ominous ring? Perhaps you see my point.

It's not too late, Virginia. It's not yet the holiday. You can rescue a splendid season, rededicate its lights, warm its chill, welcome its mystic revelations, hear its angels sing. But first you must banish the bearded incubus.

Go ahead, Virginia. Be naughty. Eat the cookies yourself. Down the milk. Then stoke the fireplace and toast the snooping sleighmeister's intruding backside the minute he breaches the sanctity of your hearth.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. And you must slay him, as surely as the prince must slay the dragon in all those fairy stories that the New York Sun was evidently so fond of. Behind the sledded smugness and false promises, his rooty-toot-toots and ho-ho-hos, the real ''supernal beauty and glory'' that the Sun brayed about is being held hostage.

You can set it free, Virginia. Do it.

Tony Proscio is associate editor of the Miami Herald.

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