Size 46—Red, Please!

Nicholas has been removed from sainthood. There was a great deal of trouble over uncanonizing him, I assure you! The miracle is that it hurt neither him nor his reputation. It didn’t even alter his name: he is still “Saint Nicholas,” even after his austere holiness was stripped away and he was de-godded before the whole Western world.

His sainthood, I regret to say, was much unlike Saint Theresa’s anyway. She chose the way of the cross and separation and devotion. Saint Nicholas chose the way of gluttony and indulgence. In some cultures they say his alter ego, Father Christmas, Père Noel, and the like, was a lean man, made thin by hiking from door to door on Christmas Eve. But in the materialistic culture in which we live, Nicholas gave up walking, like those to whom he delivered goodies and presents. Riding around in his velvet-tufted sleigh, he picked up a little weight season by season.

Dancer and Prancer and Donder and Blitzen were the first to notice his growing obesity. They were fagged after only a few hours of serving the Eastern seaboard. But they flew on, dragging their heavy master through the frosty skies. Obesity is the same for saints or for ordinary folks: it usually comes from failing to say “no” to ourselves. And Saint Nicholas was much like the culture he served.

Christmas Eve by Christmas Eve his waistline grew until finally, full of egg nog, he wedged in chimneys and began having a lot of ankle problems.

One of the elves told him that he should lose some weight. But Saint Nicholas realized that if he was to remain the most popular saint in Christendom he couldn’t be a wet blanket and let it be known he was counting calories. As his weight grew, he found it harder and harder to get down ...

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