To Santa from a despairing Yahoo

December 17, 2004

SANA’A, YEMEN – Dear Santa:

Thanks for that gift from last year, the Gulliver’s Travels book. Very nice choice.

The Houyhnhnms, those horse-like characters, were so bright, so noble. And those savage Yahoos: so dim, so lost. Poor Gulliver couldn’t see himself in them.

But that Gulliver really was a traveller. Like you, Santa. Which is why I’m writing. We’ve got distribution problems. And now experts say the North American toy market is flat. Seems everyone there buys all year long.

So I’ve made a new Christmas toy, a board game. It’s called Children of the World. It will be a smash. Roll the dice and land on a square that offers a free toy. Then get a question about children of the world. Answer correctly and get the toy.

Say you land on Bob the Builder, a fine toy about work. Its question is, how many kids are victims of child labour? Answer? 250 million. Yes, rather than in school, these kids are in places like the streets of Sana’a, where they sell things like bottled water to help their families survive. That’s if they’re not smuggled into Saudi Arabia to work there.

It could be worse. They could have no water. Or food. Roll and land on the Easy Bake Oven and get asked, how many kids worldwide are malnourished? Answer? 160 million. You get the idea.

Do you think kids in Sudan might want some Easy Bakes? Then again, if they starve to death, they won’t need a toilet. And that would reduce the couple of billion people who don’t have access to adequate sanitation. Plus it would trim the world’s 12 million refugees.

Personally, I think there are better ways to die. For example, land on the X-Box and learn that, while North Americans spent $10 billion on video-gaming last year, 300,000 of the world’s children were forced to fight wars that aren’t theirs.

Yes, video games have their own special brand of killing and maiming. And you can’t beat that, because children who have these kinds of creative toys are better-adjusted, happier and more popular with their peers.

Oh, and real war? Worldwide, countries now import $30 billion worth of arms annually.

Sounds like a lot, but it’s not much to fight advertisers. Play my game and learn that North American advertisers alone spend more than $15 billion yearly just targeting kids. Too bad there’s never cash for vaccines and supplies to save the 11 million children who now die every year before their fifth birthday.

So many toys, so little joy. It’s enough to drive one to drink. Which is OK, because this season everyone has extra wine. Could you turn some into water? Then back again? For the poor, I’d recommend a white Valle Berta Gavi. It’s rich, but crisp. Clean, unlike those people without toilets.

Yeah, for some, this Christmas kind of stinks. But it’s easy to cover the smell. Just roll the dice and get Giorgio or Hugo Boss. It’s nice for the guys. For the ladies, go for something more romantic, but still stylish for the times.

Remember Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette? While their Versailles parties were swinging, revolution was brewing. Eventually things exploded with a real bang. That left everyone with the smell of blood.

That’s less pleasant than frankincense for sure. Frankincense was valued for trading in ancient Yemen, which was known as “the ends of the Earth.” I think for the right person it’s still a great gift idea.

Naturally, that person is you, Santa. Frankincense and myrrh from the ends of the Earth. Merry Christmas. Do enjoy it. After all, Christmas really is all about you. It’s about your honour and your glory.

You don’t think Christmas is about Someone else’s glory, do you? No Santa, you’re the one who loves us so much. You’d even give your life for us, right, Santa? Yes, without you, we really are so lost.

Anyway, I think my family has all we need this year. But please, teach us to be thankful. Help us to be generous. And wherever our travels may lead, please do help us all find some horse sense, so that we don’t live our lives, short as they are, like a bunch of Yahoos.

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December 17, 2004 • Posted in ,
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