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Santa, did you get my mail?

This Christmas, do not send Uncle Santa letters via snail mail, instead e-mail him, writes Sushmita Bose.

india Updated: Dec 24, 2006 17:45 IST

From wherever he may be engaging his elves at the toy factory — North Pole, Finnish Lapland, Norwegian Drøbak , Swedish Dalecarlia or Greenland — Santa Claus has moved online.

The chubby-cheeked, red-and-white grandfatherly sport, the original icon of gifting and merry-making in the season for good cheer, has ‘sleighed’ into cyberspace with his pack of nine reindeer.

First things first: this Cyber Christmas, do not send Santa letters via snail mail; instead, email him. And yes, do not confuse him with SantaBanta.com.

What are the best sites to be online with Santa Claus? Sunday HT did a random check on the world wide web and came up with five best ways to say, “Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas!” First stop, www.santaclaus.com. This is honest-to-God commodities-driven: everything you wanted to know about Christmas shopping and didn’t know who to ask… well, ask Santa online!

About time too: the IMGR Gifts Index says, this season, B2C sales of Christmas gifts have soared by a whopping 148 per cent; in the UK, December 4 was the biggest online shopping day of the year, with sales worth £180 million — more than double the £82 million average for the rest of 2006; and according to a global online ACNielsen survey, 43 per cent of Internet consumers think Yuletide is the best time to buy, buy, buy – 61 percent of Indians felt likewise.

The tech-savviest of them all is www.santasjournal.com (don’t be misled by the ‘journal’ bit) — a podcast-cum-blogging site that says, “Last year Santa’s workshop switched to Apple computers. Santa had asked that the technology elves create a little program for the journal called a widget.” The site also throws up high voltage multi-media games, baking recipes (Santa’s cookie cake seems hot!), tips on how to be a nice guy, top music downloads et al – Santa-style.

www.claus.com calls itself ‘the merriest place in cyberspace’. This year, Santa has the North Pole village full of fun things to do: Check your naughty or nice rating; choose your very own Elf buddy; play games in Elf school; print your honorary Elf diploma; sing along with new original Christmas songs; try funny holiday recipes; visit the toy workshop; follow Santa Claus in his sleigh on Christmas eve; and then see how many cookies he eats on his trip — so that his “… little round belly, that shook when he laugh’d, like a bowl full of jel ly” gets a little rounder.

Then there is www.northpole.com that gives you Santa’s Secret Village. Click on the icons — Workshop, Santa’s Den, Kitchen, Elf Pal Academy, Reindeer Barn etc. At the Clubhouse, just chill: get to see a disco-dancing Santa, do a bit of karoake, and tune in to North Pole radio station.

On www.santas.net, you get some great recipes, but, before that, check out how the rest of the folks wish each other “Merry Christmas”. In Estonian, they say “Ruumsaid Juuliplhi”, in Hawaiian Mele Kalikimaka, in Thai Souksan wan Christmas, in Croatian sretan bozic, in Greek kala Christouyenna, while double Dutch has it as zalig Kerstfeast But hey, there is also a faux pas: there are a few ‘desi lingos’ on Santa's list—Hindi, Bengali, Urdu, Marathi — and all translations mean happy new year.

For instance, in Hindi, do you say shub naya baras when you mean merry Christmas? Probably not! But let’s be forgiving — it is, after all, the season for giving and forgiving — and take a look at recipes of some wonderful fare:

Amish Friendship Bread, Irish Soda Scones, Swedish Holiday Ham Balls, American Pumpkin Pie, German Ginger Bread – the menu goes on.

On Christmas Eve, these are what Santa would like you to leave out for him: barley sugar sweet (“for me to suck on if I start to feel airsick”), extra strong peppermints (“to keep me warm on frosty nights”), cookies or biscuits with a glass of lemonade or milk, a hot jug of cocoa with a sifter of chocolate and cinnamon, a bowl of punch (just in case), and chocolates (“yum! yum!”). For the reindeer, Rudolph the red-nosed one particularly, a bundle of sweet meadow hay, a bunch of reindeer moss and a crisp red apple will do nicely, thank you very much.

And, of course, merry Christmas!

Email Sushmita Bose: sushmita.bose@hindustantimes.com