What if Santa were laid up this year?

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Have you ever wondered what would happen if Santa Claus were to get really, really sick on Christmas eve? What would happen? Would Christmas just be skipped, or would someone fill in for the jolly old fella?

I’m not an expert, but I suspect that somehow the kiddies would still get their presents. Who is Santa’s right and man?  Or, perhaps woman?  And would they also drive the sleigh with reindeer, or would they find some other mode of transportation?  After all, who knows, have you ever seen anyone other than Santa driving that reindeer-drawn sleigh? Me, neither.

So maybe, just maybe, today’s picture gives us the answer. I found this artifact at a flea market that gives us a clue as to the backup plan! Let’s hope the rotund gift-giver stays well this year!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1888, while searching for stray cattle in the isolated canyons of southwest Colorado, Richard Wetherill and his brother-in-law stumbled upon the magnificent ancient Indians ruins of Mesa Verde.

The Wetherill family started ranching in southwest Colorado in 1881, and Richard and his brothers often explored the canyons and mesas for Indian ruins. Once, while looking up the mouth of Cliff Canyon, Wetherill was approached by a Ute Indian named Acowitz who reportedly told him, “Deep in that canyon and near its head are many houses of the old people-the Ancient Ones. One of those houses, high, high in the rocks, is bigger than all the others. Utes never go there, it is a sacred place.” Wetherill was intrigued, but his ranching duties kept him from exploring the canyon further.

On December 18, 1888, Wetherill and his brother-in-law, Charles Mason, were searching for stray cattle on top of a broad mesa when a heavy snow began to fall. Fearing they might ride over a cliff in the blinding snow, they dismounted and were moving ahead on foot when they came to an overlook point. From across the canyon they saw a snow-blurred image of a magnificent stone city three stories high and perched high up a cliff wall under a massive rock overhang. Fascinated, Wetherill and Mason abandoned their search for the stray cattle and, after considerable effort, managed to climb up and explore the ruins for several hours.

Wetherill and Mason had stumbled across the “houses, high, high in the rocks” that Acowitz had told them about. The ruins were once the home of the Anasazi (the Indian term for “ancient ones”) people. Subsequent archaeological studies showed that the Cliff Palace, as it became known, was built during the 13th century, when the Anasazi moved from the top of the mesas onto ledges and caves along the canyon walls, presumably to better defend themselves against invaders. Eventually, a prolonged drought that started around 1275 forced the Anasazi to abandon their magnificent cliff dwellings.

In the years following the discovery, Wetherill collected thousands of artifacts from the Cliff Palace and other area ruins. Most of Wetherill’s artifacts ended up in museums, where they could be studied by professional archaeologists and viewed by the public. The same cannot be said of the many other priceless artifacts that were stolen by visitors over the years. In order to protect the site from further looting and degradation, the Congress created Mesa Verde National Park in 1906.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: according to the Guinness world records, the tallest Christmas tree ever cut was a 221-foot Douglas fir that was displayed in 1950 at the Northgate Shopping Center in Seattle, Washington.

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