The war on Christmas rages on, and nowhere more intensely than on the "kill-joy front." You know it: the predictable but still brutal attacks from those who say your eggnog and candy canes, the tree near your fireplace and even your favorite myths, stories and carols hide secret dangers to emotional and physical wellbeing.
But at least one public health expert is striking a blow for traditionalists by roundly mocking kill-joy tactics by aiming right at the personification of the season.
On Dec 16, an Associated Press article reported a "light-hearted" study conducted by Australian Nathan Grills of Monash University, which was published in the online Christmas edition of the British Medical Journal. Grills' conclusion: Santa Claus is a public health menace.
Grills' characterized the jolly old elf as a "reckless role model" for children, citing his "frequent cookie snacks, occasional cigars and refusal to don a helmet during ‘extreme sports such as roof surfing and chimney jumping,'" according to the AP.
Grills also claimed to have found a correlation between Santa-loving countries and large numbers of fat children. "Santa promotes a message that obesity is synonymous with cheerfulness and joviality," Grills wrote.
So Grills prescribed jolly old Saint Nicholas a new diet and health regime: 1) No more milk and cookies. Share a carrot with Rudolph instead. 2) Ditch the sleigh. Start biking. 3) No more snotty-nosed, sniffling, coughing kids sitting on his lap. That's a "one-man outbreak waiting to happen."
In related news, health officials are urging the Canadian government to ban traditional nativity scenes on the grounds that they give the false impression that stables are sanitarily acceptable locations for child birth. Their cause has gained some support from members of Parliament, and a bill has been introduced that would impose stiff fines for publicly displaying the beloved crèche.
Dr. Angus McAllen of the North Eastern Saskatchewan University School of Clinical Medicine explained, "The amount of bacteria present in a mixed-occupancy animal domicile is nearly incalculable. Dung, urine, fleas." he said, "and the idea of placing a newborn in a manger - this repository of concentrated mammalian saliva?"
McAllen and others fear that, given the long waiting lists for obstetric care under Canada's National Health system, young mothers may see barns or stables as viable alternatives to hospital care. "While it's true that many shepherds have rudimentary OBGYN training and stable boys may be caring nurturers," said McAllen, "there's just no substitute for professional care and antiseptic conditions for the health of both the mother and the baby."
The Parliament in Ottawa is set to take up debate on the "Responsible Nativity Childbirth Display Act."
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