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We complain that we are overburdened by regulations that make our lives less easy – and that’s true. You’d imagine that someone like Santa Claus would get special privileges from the “governing” sphere though because, well, because he’s Santa, for goodness’ sake!

Well, you’d be wrong. And right.

Santa and his reindeers have to get all the permits necessary to enter the U.S. territory like everyone else, but we do think the red tape is being reduced a little for him. After all, if someone is used to red tape, that must be Santa (red, green, silver…), so you don’t want to add to it.

Hello Kitty Claus in New York | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Er, this is not Santa, this is Hello Kitty Claus (?!)

If you are still thinking: “what the hell did she drink for Christmas?!”, let me explain.

The US Department of Agriculture issued a permit to Santa so that his reindeers could enter the U.S.:

Breaking news out of Washington, D.C. as the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today issued a movement permit to Mr. S. Claus of the North Pole, a broker with Worldwide Gifts, Unlimited. The permit will allow reindeer to enter and exit the United States between the hours of 6 PM December 24, 2013 and 6 AM December 25, 2013, through or over any northern border port.

“During this season of giving, USDA wants to do everything in its power to help Santa,” said Dr. John R. Clifford, USDA’s Chief Veterinary Officer. “We agreed to waive the normal application fees and entry inspection/overtime costs, provided he winks his eye and wishes port personnel a Merry Christmas at the time of crossing.”

APHIS also waived the normally applicable disease testing requirements, as the North Pole is recognized by APHIS as negligible risk for all livestock diseases and at a recent inspection, the reindeer were found to be healthy and able to prance and paw with each hoof.

Rudolph might avoid being frisked but he still has – per mentioned-regulation – to stick to a special diet of hay, sugar plums, and gingerbread and be microchipped.

But wait, that’s not all. The Federal Administration Aviation also made things a bit more easy for Santa:

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today said Santa Claus, his elfin crew and the Santa One sleigh are GO for the annual round-the-world flight that will deliver presents to good boys and girls everywhere.

“This is my first holiday season as Secretary of Transportation, and I feel a special responsibility to make sure Santa’s flight goes off without a hitch,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

While there were no external changes to Santa One this year, FAA inspectors put in many hours ensuring that the sleigh’s systems – and especially its crew – met all applicable regulations.

(…)

“We’re helping Santa fly smarter and faster while making sure he has a safe and successful mission” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

Finally, not even Santa is free of being spied on surveilled tracked. Yes, you read that right: you can track Santa’s route thanks to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). In fact, “they’ve been tracking Santa since 1955 – they’re veritable professionals at keeping tabs on the big man. From their website, Noradsanta.org, you can follow Santa as he zooms around the globe delivering presents and spreading good cheer.”

Ah!

Well, I hope that Santa stopped at your house and delivered what you expected :-) If you are unsure (!), you can always ask the NSA to check for you.

Not everything went smoothly everywhere. I went to Austin’s Capitol on Monday to take a picture of the Christmas Tree in front of the park.

Christmas Tree in front of Capitol - Austin, TX | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Christmas Tree in front of Capitol - Austin, TX | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Christmas Tree in front of Capitol - Austin, TX | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Yes, this is a limo and a Cinderella-like carriage fleeing the scene on your left

No, this is not a magic tree. Obviously, there was a bug in the lightning system. I wonder if those switched-off lights were incandescent light bulbs?

Finally, finally,… have you heard of boxing day? I had not until about a year. I’ll go back to how in a moment.

Nobody knows exactly the origins of Boxing Day, but there are several theories:

The best clue to Boxing Day’s origins can be found in the song “Good King Wenceslas.” According to the Christmas carol, Wenceslas, who was Duke of Bohemia in the early 10th century, was surveying his land on St. Stephen’s Day — Dec. 26 — when he saw a poor man gathering wood in the middle of a snowstorm. Moved, the King gathered up surplus food and wine and carried them through the blizzard to the peasant’s door. The alms-giving tradition has always been closely associated with the Christmas season — hence the canned-food drives and Salvation Army Santas that pepper our neighborhoods during the winter — but King Wenceslas’ good deed came the day after Christmas, when the English poor received most of their charity.

King Wenceslas didn’t start Boxing Day, but the Church of England might have. During Advent, Anglican parishes displayed a box into which churchgoers put their monetary donations. On the day after Christmas, the boxes were broken open and their contents distributed among the poor, thus giving rise to the term Boxing Day. Maybe.

But wait: there’s another possible story about the holiday’s origin. The day after Christmas was also the traditional day on which the aristocracy distributed presents (boxes) to servants and employees — a sort of institutionalized Christmas-bonus party. The servants returned home, opened their boxes and had a second Christmas on what became known as Boxing Day.

Boxing Day is not celebrated in the United States. Well, wait, it is actually, although it is celebrated in a particular way that is not on Wikipedia. It is how I heard of it. Boxing Day is a kitty holiday! Mais bien sûr ! And you can be sure some kitties at my home are celebrating like it’s Christmas all over again!

Napping inside the box | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Milou in a box | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Texas trying to fit in a box | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Happy Holiday Season!

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