Monthly Archives: December 2013

Letter from Santa Claus – 2003

santa

Sweaters for the Reindeer

I hope all of you enjoyed the unusually warm weather we had in the month of October. Up here at the North Pole, it was really warm and I got to walk around in my Santa Shorts for an extra month or so. For a while Mrs. Claus and I were not even sure winter was ever going to happen, but it did.

Mrs. Claus was very worried that because we had so much warm weather, the reindeer might not be ready for the cold weather on Christmas Eve. So she started knitting woolen sweaters for them to keep them warm and toasty. Santa tried to tell her that they would be okay, because reindeer have special hairs that trap air to keep them warm. It is kind of like the insulation in your house or the filling in your coat. But, once Mrs. Claus has her mind set to do something, even Santa can’t stop her.

Well, if you don’t know it, my special reindeer are very particular about how they look and when she had finished the first couple of sweaters and taken them into the barn, the reindeer all ran and hid in the hay. They didn’t want any part of wearing sweaters, no matter how pretty and nice they were.

I had to get a group of the elves to stop working on toys for a couple of hours (don’t worry, they always catch up on their work) and go searching for the reindeer.

We finally rounded up Dasher and Dancer, the first two for which Mrs. Claus had made sweaters. They were nothing but trouble, running all over the barn and jumping up and down, but finally the elves got them into their sweaters.

Mrs. Claus thought they were just beautiful in their new, multi-colored sweaters, each with the their name in large block letters on the side.

At first the reindeer were probably as unhappy as Mrs. Claus was happy and then everyone, including the reindeer, started laughing. Dasher had on Dancer’s sweater and Dancer had on Dasher’s sweater. All that trouble we went through and didn’t even get the right sweater on the right reindeer. Sometimes I think the elves did it on purpose, just to be silly. It wouldn’t surprise me at all.

Well, kids, once it started getting cold and the days started getting shorter, Santa noticed that the reindeer were doing just fine, standing around in the open air and even enjoying the snow falling on them. I don’t think they will need the sweaters Mrs. Claus was knitting. In fact, she didn’t even complain when I told her they should be okay without the sweaters on Christmas Eve.

Now she is knitting something else out of the yarn she got for the reindeer sweaters. But, she won’t tell me what it is. She says it is a “surprise,” and Santa is really worried when she says that. So, if you happen to catch a glimpse of me on Christmas Eve, you might see me wearing a bright, multi-colored sweater with my name on the front. That’s if Mrs. Claus can catch me. Maybe I can hide with the reindeer so she can’t find me. But, knowing them, they will tell her where I am, especially Rudolph who uses his bright red nose to point me out when I try to hide.

So, in spite of the warm weather, sweaters and the reindeer hiding from us, everything is back on schedule. In fact, the elves have been working so hard lately that they are actually ahead of schedule. There should be plenty of toys for all of the good boys and girls.

Don’t forget: mind your manners, listen to your parents and teachers, be kind to each other and especially, be good. And, don’t forget that Santa likes to find cookies and milk and maybe something for the reindeer (they love a dog biscuit) when he comes down the chimney. Yes, Santa’s favorite cookie is still Chocolate Chip. Yum!

Love,your friend, Santa Claus

Letter from Santa Claus – 2002

santaSanta Meets Mr. Dickens

Hi there again. So you want to know more about the man in the red suit this year. Well, I’ll call Cal Worthington and ask him (just kidding – HO, HO, HO).

Last year Santa told you about some interesting things that happened to him during all the years he has been delivering presents and now you would like to know if Santa has ever met a famous person on Christmas Eve. Added to that, you also want to know what Santa does the other 364 days of the year when he is not delivering presents. I don’t know, that is a lot of information and Santa is busy. But, I guess I can take the time to tell you a little bit more. First Santa will tell you what he does after Christmas.

For a few weeks after Christmas, Santa and the elves work on designing the next year’s toys and making sure that all the equipment in the toy factory is working perfectly. But first the elves have to fix any toys that Santa broke during his Christmas Eve deliveries. Like Santa, the reindeer seem to be getting spryer each year and like to make loops when Santa wants they to fly straight. Each time they do some fancy flying a few toys get broken, but if Santa and his helper elves didn’t always fasten their seat belts and tie the load of toys down real good, there would be toys, elves and Santa all over everywhere.

Santa thinks it is Blitzen who is causing all the problems. The elves tell me he wants to be called Fred instead. Somehow “On Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder and Fred” isn’t real poetic. Oh well, we’ll see.

So, with all the chores done it is time for Santa, and Mrs. Claus, to head south for a bit of sunshine. No, we don’t take the sleigh and the reindeer, they can only fly on Christmas Eve. So, we drive over to the airport and fly out, like everyone else.

I am sure you are wondering why the other people on the airplane don’t recognize Santa. Well, as I told you last year, Santa himself is a “jolly old elf” who can change his size (how else would Santa get down a small chimney). But, without the Santa Suit and with the beard trimmed and maybe colored a bit, Santa looks just like a normal person who likes to eat.

Both Santa and Mrs. Claus love spending some time on the beach right after Christmas. We have to go somewhere where it is warm in January, like South America or Australia, but it is worth the trip.

Of course, Santa always takes along a lot of sunblock so that he doesn’t get sunburned (I know, then I wouldn’t need a red suit – HO, HO, HO). A sunburn always ruins a vacation, don’t you think?. But, before going to the beach,  Santa has to take care of the wind burn he gets from flying around the world in his sleigh.

Some of Santa’s elves think he should wear a ski mask to keep the wind from drying out his skin, but if you came down the stairs on Christmas Eve and saw a man in a ski mask, you might think it was a robber and call the police. Then Santa would end up in jail.

No, Santa will endure the wind on his face rather than miss Christmas. After all, that is what gives him the red cheeks and red nose that he always has in pictures (Mrs. Claus thinks that makes me cute). Besides, when he is on vacation, Santa gets to have a facial to take care of the dry skin and Santa loves to be pampered.

After some time on the beach, Santa heads back to the North Pole to check on the elves and see how things are going. Then, in the early summer, Santa plants a garden so that he and Mrs. Claus can have fresh vegetables  (Santa has a greenhouse at the North Pole so the plants don’t freeze). With that done, Santa and Mrs. Claus usually head out to visit a fair or a theme park.

Did you know that a few years ago, Santa actually visited several county fairs?

Mrs. Claus really loved the quilts and spent quite a bit of time looking at them and other handmade goods. Santa sneaked away and rode on the Tilt-a-Whirl. Santa loves carnival rides, and also ate his fill of tacos, hamburgers, corn dogs and cotton candy.

Santa didn’t try any of the carnival games, because someone who can go up a chimney with a “nod and a wink” can easily knock over milk bottles without throwing the balls and that wouldn’t be fair. Besides, Santa has a factory full of stuffed animals and Mrs. Claus would probably be very unhappy if he brought more home.

Well, from mid-summer on Santa has to start getting ready for Christmas Eve. In fact that is why Santa is so busy right now. There are lots of things to do, but I think Santa has just enough time to tell you one story about a Christmas Eve many years ago when Santa met someone famous.

If Santa recalls correctly, it was in London, England on Christmas Eve 1842. Hurrying from house to house as Father Christmas  and covered with soot from the coal fires that the Londoners used to keep warm, Santa happened into the home of the Dickens family.

Leaving the presents, Santa was about to depart when he spied a candle burning on a desk in the corner of the room. Now, unattended fire of any kind is bad, so Santa carefully tiptoed over to put the candle out. As Santa got close he saw a man with his head on the desk. He seemed to be sleeping so Santa tried not to wake him, but he tripped over a toy left lying on the floor and made quite a crash.

The man awoke with a start and Santa froze, hoping not to be seen. It was Mr. Dickens himself, who was working on a new story. He looked at Santa and said, “Father Christmas, you are probably the only one who can help me. I am writing a story about a man who hated Christmas and I am stuck.

“How do I convince someone to believe in Christmas and all the joy it brings to everyone, especially since Christmas seems to be losing its meaning to everyone?”  “Well,” Santa said, “since I am a few minutes ahead of schedule,  maybe I can help you.”

Mr. Dickens was delighted and he told Santa all about “A Christmas Carol” his new story with Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim. Mr. Dickens and Santa talked about all kinds of ways to make people believe in Christmas, but it was Dickens who came up with the idea of Scrooge being shown Christmas past, present and future to make him believe.

The next year, what did Santa find when he visited the Dickens’ house but a copy of Dickens’ new book set beside some cookies and milk. Santa loves presents too.

Speaking of cookies and milk, as Santa said last year, he gets lots and lots of treats left for him by the children and he loves all of them. And, sometimes children even leave something for the reindeer, like dog biscuits, carrots or maybe some oats, and, believe me, they appreciate it.

However, if you get up on Christmas morning and find that Santa or the reindeer did not take what you left, don’t feel bad. Santa cannot eat all of the cookies and things that are left, and often just grabs one now and then. The same goes for the reindeer or the elves that often accompany Santa. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stop leaving them. Whether or not Santa or the reindeer eat what you have left for them, he still feels the love that left them there.

Whoops, there is a problem with the toy train assembly line, the freight cars are smoking and the engines are all running backward. So I have to finish now and go make sure that all of the toys are ready on Christmas Eve. But, I am glad that I was able to answer you questions and share some of my memories with you.

Remember, love each other, take care of each other and be good. Oh, also remember its soft chocolate chip cookies and milk that Santa likes.

Have a Merry Christmas……

Love, your friend, Santa Claus

Letter from Santa Claus – 2001

santaThe Bicycles

You want to know my Christmas memories? Well, you have come to the right person. Old Santa has been delivering presents to children all around the world for too many years to remember. And, I must have a million stories about things that happened in that time.

Santa has come across all kinds of animals on his Christmas Eve rounds, but I especially remember one event on Christmas Eve of 1854. I had just slipped down the chimney of a mountain cabin in Colorado, hopped over the fire in the fireplace (Santa does that well) and was greeted by a pair of cat’s eyes staring at me from across the darkened room. Now, Santa loves all animals and never has trouble with dogs and cats, but this cat’s eyes were about six inches apart, so the cat was really big. I lit a candle and it turned out that a mountain lion had found his way in to the cabin, because the door had not been completely shut. The lion wasn’t doing any harm, and was just looking around. I looked at the lion, the lion looked at me and then he just came over and rubbed up against my leg like a kitten might. As I said, Santa loves all animals and all animals love Santa, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t all be very careful around animals we don’t know, especially wild ones. So, I gave him some of the milk that had been left out for me by a wonderful child, and then showed him the way out. After shutting the door, and locking it, I filled all the stockings, dropped off the presents and jumped back up the chimney to my sleigh on the roof.

Another surprise I get when I come down a chimney (or through a door, window or even under a door, if there is no chimney) is children waiting for Santa. Oh, this happens all the time.

Now, children are curious, and that is okay with Santa. After all, if they weren’t curious they might stop believing in me and we wouldn’t want that to happen. Well, this one time many years ago in a little town near London, England, while I was in my green Father Christmas outfit, I came down the chimney and landed in front of not one, not two, but eight staring young faces. Now, I think you know that Santa is an elf and, therefore, can change into lots of different shapes to get into houses, and even make himself invisible to everyone – except Mrs. Claus, which is unfortunate when she is trying to get me to do something and I would rather take a nap. Usually I make myself invisible before I slip down the chimney, but this time it was getting late and I simply forgot. Anyway, I immediately made myself invisible to the staring eyes of the children and went about setting out the presents, while they just looked at each other, wondering what they had first seen when I first arrived. Fortunately, it was late at night and they were all very tired. I am sure they thought it was a dream. But then, it is not all bad if children occasionally catch a glimpse of Santa. It keeps their belief in me alive.

Then there is one of the times a few years ago that I landed in the fireplace and found a father in the middle of the room busily trying to put together two bicycles for his children. One was a beautiful pink girl’s bike with a white basket on the front and the other was a black boy’s bike with racing stripes and a loud horn on the handlebars. Poor dad had mixed up the parts and was having a terrible time getting the two bicycles completed. And, he was not happy, which is a no-no around Christmas, and, for that matter, anytime.

Now, I should pause here for a moment to explain that Santa does not bring all of the presents that are found on Christmas morning. Why if I did, there wouldn’t be enough room in the sleigh for everything. People who love you also give you presents, and often give Santa credit, just to keep my spirit alive.

Well, back to the man with the two half-completed bicycles. I just happened to have one of the elves from my toy factory at the North Pole along with me that night because one of the reindeer – Dasher, the fussy one – was acting up.

That elf had put together thousands of bicycles in his lifetime, so I yelled up the chimney and down he came. In the wink of an eye he put the two bicycles together, tied beautiful bows on both of them and rolled them over near the Christmas Tree. Dad, who didn’t know what to say, just stood there in awe and looked at us. I grabbed one of the cookies that had been left for me, tossed one to the elf, took a sip of the cold milk that was with them and headed for the chimney. I stopped for a moment, winked at dad and made him promise not to tell what had happened. It was easy to see that he believed in Santa Claus, and will forever more.

Speaking of cookies and milk, Santa gets lots and lots of treats left for him by the children and he loves all of them. His favorite is soft chocolate chip cookies and a small glass of cold milk (low fat please, Santa has to watch his waistline, Ho, Ho, Ho.) Sometimes children even leave something for the reindeer. Santa occasionally finds things like dog biscuits or maybe some oats left for them and, believe me, they appreciate it. Flying around the world on one night takes a lot of energy. However, if you get up on Christmas morning and find that Santa or the reindeer did not take what you left, don’t feel bad. Santa cannot eat all of the cookies and things that are left, and often just grabs one now and then. The same goes for the reindeer or the elves that sometimes accompany Santa. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stop leaving them. Whether or not Santa or the reindeer eat what you have left for them, he still feels the love that left them there.

Well, there seems to be a problem in the toy factory, at least that is what Mrs. Claus is telling me. So I have to finish now and sort things out. I have to make sure that all of the toys are ready on Christmas Eve, but I am glad that I was able to share some of my memories with you.

Remember, love each other, take care of each other and be good. Oh, also remember its soft chocolate chip cookies and milk that Santa likes.

Have a Merry Christmas……

Love, your friend, Santa Claus

Origin of the Names for California and El Dorado County

Map from 1650

Map from 1650

The names that are given to states, counties, communities and even the streets on which we live, come from many sources. Some have complicated mythical origins (with numerous variations), others reflect the location from which the first settlers came, while even others are given out as respect for a local citizen or famous person. In the State of California we find all of these.

CALIFORNIA

The origin of the name California itself goes back many centuries to the early exploration of the New World. Then as now, people believed that just over the horizon were unexplored lands of untold wealth and beautiful people. As a result of this, in the Fifteenth Century, Garci Rodriguez de Montalvo, a Spanish writer, created an island called California lying on the right-hand side of the Indies and very close to the Garden of Eden.

As explorers returned to their ports, they told great tales of places such as California, pointing out that had they more ships and men they could have conquered the natives and brought back even more treasure in an attempt to encourage the financing of a new trip. Needless to say, the story about this mystical place grew way beyond the truth.

The Island of California itself, it was believed, was inhabited by a group of fierce, Amazon like and very beautiful black women. Their ruler was the most beautiful of them all, a queen named Calafia.

They were magnificent in their armor and weaponry of pure gold, the only metal found on the island.

They often sailed off in mighty ships to raid other lands, where they gathered treasure and captured men. Some men they kept, albeit temporarily, to insure that their race would not die out. Any male children born as a result of these unions were immediately killed as were most of the men they captured, other than the very few they felt they needed.

Although earlier maps of the New World showed California as a portion of a larger continent, in 1525 one Henry Briggs produced a map that included Queen Calafia’s land, depicting it as the Isle of California. Almost immediately there were new, more accurate maps disagreeing with Briggs’ work, but for a century or more other cartographers continued to copy his map. Myths are often more powerful than the truth.

It is sometimes said that the armor clad lady on the Seal of the Great State of California represents Queen Calafia. However, the lady is actually Minerva (Athena), the goddess of wisdom.

EL DORADO

The name El Dorado, which was given to our County by the first California Legislature on February 18, 1850, also has its roots in myth.

Again it was the early explorers who brought back the tales of a place of untold riches – especially gold – in the tableland of Bogota.

This time the land was ruled by an Indian chief who, during special religious rites, had his body covered with oil and then rubbed with gold dust, thereby “gilding” him.

The search for this wondrous land of gold named El Dorado – “The Gilded One” – was the driving force behind many of the early explorations of northern South America, and later, Mexico. The story was so widely believed that in 1537 it was reported that the location of El Dorado had been found.

When gold was discovered in California, it was nothing more than a continuation of the search for “El Dorado” that brought the thousands of gold miners to that location.

The actual words “El Dorado” did not appear on a map of California until 1848 when the legend “El Dorado or Gold Region” was lettered along the Plumas River and the South Fork of the American River by Charles Preuss, the cartographer for the explorer John C. Fremont. Immediately the word became firmly attached to the gold bearing region of California.

There is a wonderful, flowery description of El Dorado County in the April 30, 1850 issue of the Alta California, a pioneer San Francisco newspaper.

As a service to its readers, the newspaper published a list of the newly created twenty-seven California counties and the derivation their names. The derivations are believed to have been written by Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, perhaps the most powerful man in Mexican California and a member of California’s first senate. The work was then translated into English for publication. It is apparent that Vallejo liked El Dorado County.

“EL DORADO – The far-famed fabulous region of genial clime and never-failing verdure, where gold and precious stones are as common as rocks and pebbles, where wines gently flow from fountains, where wheat spontaneously grows overtopped with tiny loaves of bread, and pigeons fly already roasted, where nature has converted the rudest things into harmony of shape and appearance and where, in fine, a creature of the genus malieris, full of symmetry and grace, trips about in natural loveliness the most beautiful of God’s creations. Francis Orreliana, a companion of Pizarro, first spread the account of the supposed existence of this province in South American.

“It is so universally known how and when the discovery was made that has caused the star of the west to spring up as if by magic, giving it the appropriate epithet of “golden” and will eventually revolutionize the world, that more than the passing remark that gold was discovered in this county as Sutter’s mill, is here deemed unnecessary. The county derives its name from this circumstance.”
Originally the State Legislature had considered naming the county Coloma, after the discovery site itself. Perhaps is was Vallejo’s words that caused them to change their minds and call it El Dorado.

Sources for this story include: “Atlas of California”, by Donley, Allan, Caro and Patton (1979); “California Place Names”, by Erwin Gudde, 3rd Edition (1974); “Gold Rush – A literary Exploration” edited by Michael Kowalewski (1997); “History of El Dorado County”, by Paolo Sioli (1883), reprinted and indexed by the El Dorado Friends of the Library (1998); and the Alta California, 1-4-1849 through 12-31-1850.