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Is Santa Clarita a Place of Santa Claus or Santa Anas?
December, 2007 - Issue #38
I never really believed in Santa Claus, but it wasn't until pre-school that I could confirm my suspicion as fact. Nearly two decades later, I'm still able to recall the December day of dream-crushing quite well. Let's revisit it, shall we?

The day started uneventfully enough. Most of my paste-eating colleagues were thoroughly engrossed in a game of Simon Says. Though I too was occupied with jumping up and down at Simon's pleasure, I managed to notice our two parent helpers stealthily exit the classroom. Thusly distracted, I lost the game, and I was about to lose more.

Some time after the parent volunteers snuck out, we were told to sit on the carpet in the usual story-time fashion. But Ms. Taylor had no book! Clearly, something was amiss. Instead of reading, she began asking us questions: "Has anyone heard of someone named Kris Kringle?" "Do you know who pulls Santa's sleigh?" "Why didn't I stop at the third martini last night?"

We shouted out the answers with unrestrained glee: "Yes! He's Santa!" "Rudolph and the reindeer pull it!" "Because you weren't paying for them!" (Before some of you have a fit, I assure you that she was allowed to talk to us about Christmas; my pre-school was a private one.)

Our frenzied, shrieking voices fell silent as we heard the sounds of galloping beasts and tinkling bells. We were told to remain sitting, but I didn't listen. No, I ran to the window when what should appear but a pair of middle-aged mom volunteers... One of them was shaking a belt studded with jingle bells. The other was responsible for simulating the sound of reindeer landing on the rooftop. While she destroyed Santa for me, at least she had the decency to have not de-limbed Bambi, instead using wooden blocks for hoof-clopping noises. Santa's sleigh, as it turned out, was a black Mercedes (or Volvo - I don't really remember) and his beard was pulled on after exiting the car. To add insult to injury, the imposter gave me toothpaste and a picture of a smiling, cavity-free tooth out of his bag of presents. I preferred dinosaurs.
"But even the most
depressing of realizations needn't always hold true. Indeed, the very year I learned that some parents pretend to be Santa, it SNOWED IN VALENCIA."


That day would be neither the first nor last time that illusions would be shattered in Santa Clarita. Most recently, the illusion of Santa Clarita as someplace safe and secure came crashing down.

As Mayor McLean politely phrased it: "October [was] a stressful time in the Santa Clarita Valley." I tend to agree. The complete crippling of our transportation system, the burning of dozens of structures and winds that ripped roofs certainly didn't make it a soothing month. We may be safe from crime as is oft reported based on the various "Safe City" awards, but fire can take property better than any thief. One fire alone claimed 15 homes and forced 15,000 evacuations. And were it not for the round-the-clock efforts of firefighters, it would have been much, much worse. In any case, methinks it's time to add "flammability" as one of the criteria for designating a city as safe. Being ringed by dry plant matter, otherwise known as tinder, puts us in an unavoidably precarious situation each and every year.
Of course, fire isn't all the fault of dry grass and fierce winds. It needs an ignition source. To help out in this regard, we had people welding in a high-risk area even as other fires were burning. And yes, clever reader, a fire started as a result - the so-called "Magic Incident." It goes to show that the only thing more tragic than burning 1,750 acres of Clarita would be slowing down construction projects. Just as I found that Mr. Claus didn't exist when in pre-school, I find common sense doesn't always exist today.

Indeed, when we set illusions aside, we find that our valley is not a place for Santa Claus and snow but for Santa Ana winds and fire. But even this most depressing of realizations needn't always hold true. Indeed, the very year I learned that parents pretend to be Santa, it snowed in Valencia. My mom woke my sisters and me up at 5 a.m. because she thought the icy white blanket would melt in the morning sun and she refused to let us miss it. By some miracle, the snow remained for hours. We had plenty of time to build a grotesquely misshapen snowman and hurl snowballs. Rarely have I found Santa Clarita as utterly tolerable as it was that day.

It seems that good things can happen in SCV - good things like snow. After all, our community's namesake is Saint Clare, who just happens to be the patron saint of good weather, something new-fallen snow in SoCal certainly constitutes. Maybe, I think, just maybe, we don't need Santa Claus when we have Santa Clarita.
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