Father Christmas: Public health pariah


Christmas: a time for festive cheer, family and eating rather more than normal. Not for Dr Nathan Grills. Writing in the British Medical Journal, the traditional Christmas wish of ‘goodwill to all men’ has been extended to cover protecting the public from the horrific, dangerous, yuletide threat that is Father Christmas. Utterly po-faced, Dr Grills accuses Father Christmas of acting in a reckless way that could “damage millions of lives". Some of his crimes are as follows:

- embarking on high-speed air travel without wearing a seatbelt or helmet, and partaking in dangerous sports such a roof-surfing
- blatantly ignoring the drink-drive limit by consuming copious measures of brandy
- equating obesity with cheerfulness and joviality
- encouraging parents to expand their own waistlines by scoffing the mince pies left out for him
- ever so occasionally being depicted with - shock-horror - a pipe in hand.

No doubt Father Christmas also glorifies the unlawful entering of people’s homes.

Likening Father Christmas’ selling power to that of Ronald McDonald, the author is concerned that Mr Christmas is sending young, impressionable children into a spiral of unhealthy behavior, which must be stopped. The answer? Give the fat man an ever-so-socially-correct makeover, swapping mice pies for celery sticks and the reindeer and sleigh for running shoes.

This report beggars belief. Father Christmas is an adored figure across the globe with an approachability and mysticism that would be utterly undermined if he served as government propaganda for healthy living. The idea that he drags children into a life of drink-driving obesity is absurd. Encouraging illustrators the world over to ease the conscious of the over-anxious, do-gooding ‘experts’ is appalling. Luckily, I’m very confident that this article will just result in incredulous laughter.

All the same, I don’t want Father Christmas to be at risk of developing liver failure, so I’ll leave him a nice bottle of Nanny State beer by the fireplace this year.