As a child, I had a friend named Martin Moss, who always said that when he grew up he was going to have a son, name him Christopher, and then force him to become a Catholic priest for the sole reason that his name would then be Father Chris Moss. I have no idea if he followed through on this threat, but if he did, my old classmate would not have been alone these days in attempting to dubiously rename and remould an avatar of Santa Claus into a personally desired shape of his own.
The cherished and once wholly apolitical festive figure of our youth is now being reshaped left, right and centre (well, mostly just on the Left) by those who would have him do their desired specific political bidding. In part one of this series, we examined misguided attempts to rebrand St. Nick as ‘Covid-Safe Santa’. Today, we shall examine further deluded quests to dye his red suit green and reconfigure him as ‘Eco-Santa’ instead.
All I Want for Christmas Is You… and Your Children’s Minds
The specific figure of Eco-Santa is the creation of a lady named Gaia Dance – or Ann Palmer, as her actual birth certificate has it. According to an online profile, “wholistic” Anne is a “writer, creative writing teacher and deep ecologist” who also “run[s] right-brain-led Nature Writing courses and… a grassroots anti-litter campaign in the Outer Hebrides” where she lives. Further biographical info reveals that the former headmistress and riding teacher quite literally writes (or types) in green ink, and that “three passions rule my life: horses, hills and humanity’s status vis-a-vis the planet”.
Ann’s basic concern is perfectly reasonable: she dislikes plastic pollution on beaches, thinks it harms animals, and spends a lot of time going out and picking it up, an activity she thinks children should be encouraged to pursue too. One sensible way of doing this would be to educate them about the topic in a factual and proportionate manner, and tell them that, if they want to help, they can. One non-sensible way of doing this, however, would be to completely transform Santa into Eco-Santa, and encourage children to celebrate him from January to December in the hope of eliminating consumerist impulses from kids entirely and getting them to wander Britain’s beaches all year long armed with grab-sticks, freeing trapped seagulls’ heads from discarded beer-cans. Guess which option Ann has chosen…
Eco-Santa was born when, one rainy Christmas, she watched her husband, Peter, wrapped up against the weather in big, Santa-like black boots and red balaclava, dragging a large piece of washed-up netting along their sodden local beach, and thought he looked a bit like Santa: but, if you look at the photo she took of St. Peter being St. Nick, this new version looks rather too depressing to appeal to most kids, to say the least.
Therefore, under her pen-name Gaia Dance, Mrs. Palmer has now created a children’s book – How Santa Became Eco-Santa – filled with much cuter drawings of Father Christmas going Green, which is available “by making a donation of £5” to her charity, Ecologisers – a transaction which would more traditionally be described as ‘buying a copy’, but Ann doesn’t seem keen enough on capitalism to admit this shameful fact.
The basic story is that, one particular Christmas, Rudolf the Reindeer becomes clinically depressed after detecting psychic distress-signals from the world’s wildlife via his antlers: “Rudolf’s antlers act like a satellite-dish, picking up signals from outer space. All animals have this ability in some form.” From his sleigh, Santa then discovers the source of this despair, spying large islands of plastic floating in the sea, so decides to swap his red coat for a green one, becoming Eco-Santa instead.
By listening to Eco-Santa’s subsequent preaching, Ann hopes the world’s children will become less interested in receiving toys as presents for Christmas and, instead, begin to derive far more joy and satisfaction by gathering up thrown-away plastic bottles, cartons and toothbrushes, and depositing them inside Santa’s new, repurposed, big brown recycling-sack. As the book’s final page says: “Once his sack is empty, Eco-Santa is asking children worldwide to fill it with rubbish the rest of the year as a Gift to the Earth.” How about starting by dropping in a copy of Ann’s book?
Seeds of Subversion
Ann is also in the process of developing Eco-Santa the Musical, which will be stuffed full of “out-of-copyright Christmas songs”, even (oh no!) rap ones, altered so as to “put celebratory, positive, empowering eco-lyrics to them”. The overriding purpose of the rebranding is that “Santa must evolve” in terms of his “way of being in the world”, becoming not simply a jolly figure of Christmas fun, but a propagandistic character “we can use to spur action”, Santa becoming another “way to change future culture, and chart a path forward out of the Anthropocene”.
Central to this programme of mental rewiring is the idea that “Santa should not be confined to the ‘Christmas bubble’, but given a year-long identity as a hero-figure instrumental in helping young people and the planet”. Like Roy Wood and Wizzard, Ann Palmer wishes it could be Christmas every day – if by ‘Christmas’, you mean endlessly traipsing along a beach with your kids collecting empty chip-trays and used condoms.
Her actual cause itself is fine. It is the obsessive and all-consuming manner she wishes to impose it on children from above that is disturbing. But what is even more disturbing is that she appears to have quasi-official support in this quest, from bodies like Creative Carbon Scotland, and the Scottish Charity Regulator, who have granted her organisation listed charity status (registration number SC048663). This allows Ann and the rest of the Legz Akimbo Theatre Company to enter schools “dressed as Junk Jesters” to spread their aim of “reorienting children’s perception of Santa towards environmental ends”.
Furthermore, she and her sub-literary creation have been profiled and promoted in Canada’s Green Teacher magazine, and she has networked with Extinction Rebellion “as they are well-organised [and] law-aware”. An even more impressive connection in high places was revealed when Eco-Ann eco-released an eco-album of eco-songs, including one sung to the tune of ‘God Save the Queen’, a project “which Prince Charles has seen and approved”. The whole point, Ann admits, is “cultural change”, with Eco-Santa’s parent charity “regard[ing] ourselves as a seed organisation, in the sense of seeding the idea [of Santa as a primarily ecological figure, not a present-giving one] into the culture”. Other organisations seem to have had pretty much the same idea.
Christmas is, quite naturally, a time for traditions: one new such tradition being an onslaught of festive-themed press-releases from governments, quangos, charities, scientists and multinational corporations, making out that Santa Claus is imminently GOING TO DIE from global warming.
A typical example was put out in 2018 by Mitsubishi Electric – vendors of both electric eco-vehicles, and air-pump eco-heating systems for the home. Due to rising temperatures, says the Japanese manufacturing-giant, by 2050 Santa’s traditional home of the North Pole “could be facing ice-free summers”, while “by 2100 the ice-mass may no longer exist”. ‘Could’ and ‘may’ are two very useful words these days, aren’t they? This is bad news for Santa, as “In case you didn’t know, the North Pole isn’t actually located on a permanent continental landmass, it is located in the Arctic Ocean, which is currently permanently covered by shifting sea-ice” – meaning that, when it finally melts, Santa’s Grotto will vanish beneath the waves forever, like Atlantis, Lemuria and Lyonesse.
Even if he does manage to escape death by drowning, warn Mitsubishi, “as we move away from fossil fuels, Santa will have fewer chimneys to go down”, as “by moving away from [burning] fossil fuels and towards electrifying the economy with renewables… fewer chimneys will be required (something we are seeing less and less of in new houses)”. Alternatively, governments could always stop building new houses to that specific chimneyless design, and thereby forcing homeowners to adopt renewable home-energy sources by stealth, but that wouldn’t do Mitsubishi’s own business interests in this field much good, would it?