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December 16, 2009

I want a chainsaw for Christmas!

Kevin E. Dayhoff

Hopefully, by now you are finishing all your Christmas shopping and wrapping presents with some soothing Christmas music in the background.


I certainly believe in Santa Claus, and furthermore, I believe that he drives a sleigh pulled by reindeer.


Hillary Mayell, writing for the National Geographic News on December 24, 2002, reported that there are two “children's books written in the early 1800s credited with introducing the reindeer aspect to the Santa legend.”


The first, according to Ms. Mayell, is “The Children's Friend,” published in 1821. It contains an illustration depicting an elfin-sized Santa dressed in red in a tiny sleigh pulled by one reindeer.


The scene shows him delivering books and toys to good children, and a birch rod to those that have been naughty, according to Laura Wasowicz at the American Antiquarian Society. “The book is very rare,” she said.  “We might have the only copy.”


If anyone would like to get me a copy for my rare books collection, I would be happy to receive such a wonderful gift. Thanks!


It wasn't until 1823, when Clement Clarke Moore first published “The Night Before Christmas” in an upstate New York newspaper, that the reindeer legend really took off.


In Mr. Moore's classic poem, Santa had eight reindeer and they didn't really fly.


Well – I happen to believe that reindeer really can fly.


It was over 100 years ago on September 21, 1897, that a gentleman about my age, Francis Pharcellus Church, wrote in the New York Sun: “ Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”


Mr. Church wrote in response to Virginia O’Hanlon, who asked: “Dear Editor: I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, ‘If you see it in The Sun, it's so.’ Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?”


“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus,” replied Mr. Church. “He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus!”


Miss Virginia died May 13, 1971. In a Canadian Broadcasting Company radio interview on December 24, 1963, she talked “about how the letter changed her life and her faith in Santa Claus. ‘The older I grow,’ she said, ‘the more I realize what a perfect philosophy it is for life.’ (Find the audio of the CBC interview here:


Oh, by the way, the original letter from Miss Virginia was appraised to be worth between $20,000 and $30,000 in an episode of the Public Broadcasting System’s “Antiques Roadshow” on July 19, 1997.


For Christmas this year, I’d love to have the original letter in my collection. Hint. Hint.


Of course, I do not necessarily believe in Santa Claus because the media has told me so. I believe in Santa Claus because Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers told me in a 1984 tune, “I Believe in Santa Claus.”


Actually it is the lyrics for which I am particularly fond: “I believe in Santa. I believe there’s always hope when all seems lost, I believe in Santa Claus, I believe in Santa Claus I'll tell you why I do.


“I believe that dreams and plans and wishes can come true. I believe in miracles I believe in magic too. I believe in Santa Claus and I believe in you. I believe in family in country and in smiles. I believe in turning negatives to positives in life…”


Well, we certainly have lots of opportunities to turn negatives into positives this Christmas season.


And speaking of being positive, if you will come a little closer I’ll tell you what I really want for Christmas.


I want someone to buy me an “i.Saw,” the “world’s first USB-powered chainsaw.”


I kid you not. Please find it here: It only costs $59.95.


The advertisement notes: “Never before has a chainsaw been made available in such a compact and mobile form. Measuring no larger than the size of a regular computer keyboard, every effort has been made to ensure that proper grip – and safety – is not compromised.”


And yes, it is USB 2.0 compatible: “Instant plug ‘n’ play. Zero startup time. Patent-pending technology allows for an unparalleled distribution of power. A first in its class. Works on PC, Mac and most USB-enabled devices.”


The ad elaborates: “Cut through different types of wood as you would with a full-sized electric chainsaw. Saw chain (included) delivers fast cutting speed with good efficiency. i.Saw guide bar is also compatible with most third-party saw chains.”


Just imagine the opportunities having USB-powered chainsaw could provide for an intrepid reporter who covers city council meetings, political events, court proceedings, and the Maryland General Assembly with my laptop in tow.


Gee, I wonder if I could get through security with a USB-powered chainsaw?


Security officer: “What’s in the bag?”


“Oh that,” I reply meekly. “Why that’s my USB-powered chainsaw for when I really need to cut through the crap.”


Recently, Bryan Sears, a colleague of mine who is the political editor of Patuxent Publishing Co.’s eight Baltimore County community newspapers, and I were having a far-reaching conversation about reporters using Twitter or blogging to report instantly upon court proceedings while in the courtroom.


I never thought to explore the idea of bringing a USB-powered chainsaw into the courtroom…


Anyway – thank you for your kind consideration in this meager gift-giving opportunity.


In addition to chainsaws, please remember that Jesus is the reason for the season. Keep in mind all of those in our community who need a helping hand. Please remember not to drink and drive.


Spend the holidays with your family, friends, loved ones – and a USB powered chainsaw...


Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster. E-mail him at


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