Santa Claus was our first true super hero, says columnist

California

My lights are up, the tree’s trimmed, Bing and Frank are on my turntable, and “Miracle on 34th Street” is warming up in my old VCR.

I’m ready. Bring on Christmas.

Give me some of those chestnuts roasting on an open fire, and yule time songs being sung by a choir.

Let me share a White Christmas with Bing, and a Silent Night with Streisand.

Let me walk into Macy’s and see a child sitting on Santa’s lap promising, with toes crossed, that he’s been a good, little boy this year. Let me see the smile on his face when Santa whispers in his ear “let me see what I can do.”

Let me ride along with our veterans and service clubs as they dress up as Santa’s helpers to visit schools and daycare centers in parts of our city where presents are not taken for granted. They are precious.

And, finally, let me see that look we all had as children whenever we saw the jolly old man in red with the long white beard. That look of complete awe.

We didn’t realize it at the time, but Santa Claus was our first, true super hero.

He didn’t need tactical weapons and super physical powers, like the super heroes in movies today. No, Santa was strictly non-violent. He just needed us to believe in him and be good kids. Listen to our parents and try a little harder in school.

For that, we’d get toys every Christmas. Okay, so there was a little bribery involved, but overall it worked for centuries.

So, why are we messing around with the image of the jolly, old man now?

One of the most popular Christmas movies last year was an action comedy called “Violent Night” starring Santa Claus. It was rated-R, so kids couldn’t see it.

Good thing. All those sugar plums dancing around inside their little heads would have turned into bloody nightmares.

The movie pulled in $73 million globally, and had an 88% audience score, according to Rotten Tomatoes. That’s “Gone With the Wind” territory.

Here’s the official synopsis. “When a team of mercenaries breaks into a wealthy family compound on Christmas Eve, taking everyone inside hostage, the team isn’t prepared for a surprise combatant. Santa Claus is on the grounds, and he’s about to show why this Nick is no Saint.”

One critic wrote, “Behind all the gore-splattered walls and domestic rancor lies a sweet and sour bedtime story of good triumphing over evil.”

A sweet and sour bedtime story. Right. “Sweet dreams, honey, Santa’s coming down the chimney tonight, and he’s carrying an Uzi.”

Thanks, but I’ll stick with my old movie Santa — actor Edmund Gwenn from “Miracle on 34thStreet,” released in 1947.

He wasn’t Rambo; he was a small, well-spoken gentleman with a cane fighting with words and deeds, not weapons, to keep belief in Santa alive.

No Santa Claus? Bah. How’d that cane leaning by the fireplace get there? How’d he talk Dutch to that little Dutch girl who didn’t know English?

Oh, there’s a Santa Claus, but he isn’t rated-R, he’s strictly G — for everyone.

“Christmas isn’t just a day,” Kris Kringle said in “Miracle on 34th Street” — 76 years ago. “It’s a frame of mind … and that’s what’s been changing. That’s why I’m glad I’m here, maybe I can do something about it.”

Maybe, Santa, it’s time to make another visit.

Dennis McCarthy’s column runs on Sunday. He can be reached at dmccarthynews@gmail.com.

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