I know that this is supposed to be a blog dedicated to exciting events in the world around us but, sometimes, it does the soul good to step back from it all and enjoy something silly. I could write about the nice Texas lady who, in an effort to cure her boyfriend’s fear of heights, threw him off a 150 ft. high bungee tower. While the rope snagged and forced the couple to be stranded 75 ft. in the air for three hours, it worked out all right. He’ll never go anywhere near stuff like this again and they’re getting married.
Or I could take a look at the darker side of life and write about the McDonald’s manager in Georgia who punched out a woman for having a service dog for her autistic children. That worked out okay too since he was fired and then jailed.
But neither story presented me with anything really happy to write about.
Then, last night, on TV I saw a story about the World Santa Claus Congress in Denmark. What could be better for reminding us that snow is on the way than a healthy dose of Ho Ho Hos? The funny thing is that when I searched American web sites for the story, all I got were blurbs and a couple of pics. I had to go all the way to Beijing to get the complete story. Mo Hong’e seems to think that the mutant Santa Olympics are of real interest in China.
Santas from all over the world gathered at the World Santa Congress in the Danish capital Copenhagen on Wednesday.
As usual, there were plenty of games to be played included throwing sacks of presents and firing canon balls. Now, let’s go to Bakken amusement park outside the Danish capital for Christmas in July.
Two teams of Santas – one from Denmark and the other from the United States, Sweden, Russia, Germany and other countries – competed for the coveted trophy of Best Santa Team.
The Danish Santas won, and team captain Niels Preus vowed that his Santas would come back and defend their title next year.
Niels Preus, captain of Danish Santa team, said, “Today we won the international championship, and we are having it for the whole year, until the next world Santa Congress next year.”
Aside from throwing presents, Santas also had to master a Christmas obstacle course, ride bumper cars and compete in a horse race game.
Kris Kringle, Santa from USA, said, “Nobody lost, Santa Claus won. That’s the important thing, Santa won! Maybe it was a Danish Santa, maybe it was an American Santa, whatever, but Santa always wins!”
The World Santa Claus Congress was created in 1957 and gathers around 150 Santas from around the world, including both female and male Christmas pixies and elves.
Activities in the three-day program include a Christmas parade down Copenhagen’s main pedestrian street and a dip in the harbor for the annual saltwater footbath.
The round-bellied participants also debate and exchange views on Christmas-related issues such as how yuletide greetings are done in different parts of the world.
The conference was created by Professor Tribini, Bakken’s legendary entertainer, who refused to accept the idea that Christmas is only celebrated once a year.
And as the Santas are usually very busy in December, the professor decided to create “Christmas in July.”
Santa won …**sniff**… could there be a nicer sentiment?
With Christmas in July becoming a semi-official holiday thanks, in no small part, to these Santas it seems appropriate to look at the true meaning of Christmas and see if it gets involved in the fun.
I’m very pleased to report that it does. MilPitas Patch, a California based web site run by Adelaide Chen, is reporting that giving without asking for anything in return is alive and well in, of all godforsaken places, San Francisco.
Sending care packages to troops overseas are not new, but it was less than five years ago that the Girl Scouts of Northern California began teaming up with a San Jose-based nonprofit to do just that.
About 33,600 boxes of the Girl Scout cookies were distributed from Moffett Field last Thursday to military families. Before that, another ten pallets were delivered to a warehouse for Operation: Care and Comfort to ship overseas.
Last year, the cookies were dropped off, from Coast Guard Island in Alameda to Camp Parks in Dublin. This year, due to the volume of the cookies plus donated items collected by Old Navy, they asked the bases to send trucks.
“It was just easier to do it that way,” said the organization’s Co-founder and President Julie DeMaria.
Each cookie season, through the Gift of Caring program, customers have the option of donating a box to a food bank or to military troops.
In the beginning of the partnership, there were just a few cases here and there, she said. This season, troops from the Girl Scouts of Northern California altogether collected about 107,000 boxes of cookies, split in half between food banks and Operation Care and Comfort, according to spokeswoman Dana Allen.
In Milpitas, Girl Scouts collected about 635 boxes. That’s a pretty average number, said Allen.
But at the last minute, when five Girl Scouts were given the opportunity to help distribute the cookies at Moffett Field, it was Milpitas’ Troop 60596 that responded to the call.
They were Girl Scouts Allison Eacret, Megan Brobst, Anna Chiang, Jennifer Bunnell, Megan Farley along with leaders Michelle Eacret, Stacy Brobst and Elaine Farley.
“We have certain [Girl Scout] troops that are on standby that we know if we have a quck request for a parade, city council…” said Allen referring to them as a “go-to troop”.
“They’re always ready and very, very active,” she said.
After a few hours, the Girl Scouts had loaded about three-fourths of the cookies that were distributed that day onto military vehicles as far as Oxnard and Fresno.
The main distribution that Operation: Care and Comfort handles is ship packages overseas once a month to about 150 units deployed oversees. The number goes up to about 200 during the holiday season.
Cookies containing chocolate are a big no-no during the summer, but they go out once fall starts, said DeMaria.
The care packages often get thank you emails and Facebook messages from the recipients, and some curiosity too.
“They’re always really surprised that this is happening from the San Francisco Bay Area,” said Co-founder and President Julie DeMaria.
“They’re really surprised because they don’t think the Bay Area is very supportive of them,” she said of the anti-war sentiment.
An email from Andrew J. from Santa Clara read:
… it was a nice surprise to see the generous and kind gesture of support from the folks. It made me proud to be from the valley when I was able to break out the goods for all the soldiers (most of them are from Michigan and the mid-west) and show them your letters of support.
Outside of the seasonal cookie distribution, the organization sends out toiletries and necessary items such as razors and sunscreen.
For military families, they re-distribute tickets to events, knowing that some may be unable to afford them.
“As a former military kid [of a family of five] we could never afford it,” said DeJesus. But she said she knew one family who took their son to his first hockey game.
“It’s very expensive living in the Bay Area,” she said. “They don’t have extra money to do anything like that.”
To learn more about the program, visit www.occ-usa.org.
While I admit that it bugs me that we can’t provide our service men and women with necessary toiletries I’ll leave that rant for another day. What matters here today is that even unlikely people can do good. That even includes you.
So, in the spirit of the season, I hope you’ll take 10 minutes out of your miserable day and do something nice for someone. You’ll be amazed at how much cooler you’ll feel.
Listen to Bill McCormick on WBIG AM 1280, every Thursday morning around 9:10!