Furthermore, Santa should not only avoid the cups of good cheer left on the table after Dad presumably has retired for the evening. He should also dump the cookies and eat the carrots and celery sticks "commonly left for Rudolph." But Grills, not to put too fine a point on it, is more concerned about Santa as a potential conveyer of infectious diseases than merely a bad image for our children. He cites one study that purportedly shows shopping center Santas are coughed on, or sneezed on, up to 10 times a day. And he suspects that health exams for part-time Santas are probably very lax, and in some cases, nonexistent.
So, it's easy to imagine how much greater the problem is for the Real Santa.
"Santa is potentially a point source for infectious diseases outbreaks," he writes. "Santa in his asymptomatic phase to propagate an infectious disease is clear," he writes, and since he has to visit so many homes, Santa "becomes a contact tracer's nightmare."
In his haste to cover his global assignment, Santa not only becomes tipsy and even fatter. He also stands accused of promoting dangerous activities including "speeding, disregard for road rules, and extreme sports such as roof surfing and chimney jumping. Despite the risks of high speed air travel, Santa is never depicted wearing a seatbelt or a helmet."
These are serious charges (well, sort of serious), published in a prestigious journal, although the BMJ admits the paper was not peer reviewed. Apparently, there aren't that many Santa critics out there.
And in his defense, Santa has at least quit smoking, although it's possible to find a few old advertisements featuring him puffing on a pipe, or sucking on a stogie.
So, the guy's not all bad. He has a horrific image problem, thanks partly to Grills' piercing examination, but that could be cleaned up a bit if he just dropped the cookies and brandy and lost more than a few pounds.
But there's a potentially more serious problem. Santa, Grills argues, is a deceiver. As evidence, he cites an annual children's pilgrimage to Lapland "to visit an obese, hirsute, elderly white male dressed in a red costume. We sought permission to collude with this man in deceiving young children that he would visit them on Christmas Eve, arriving in a flying sleigh drawn by reindeer, one with a red nose.
"At first glance this proposal seems to contravene the ethics of truth and honesty, but one study has reported that 87 percent of parents are happy about such a deception."
So, Santa is not the only culprit in this worldwide disaster. It can also be blamed on Mom.