An ABC insider writes:

In a major Australian capital city, the head of a busy, tinsel-strewn, ABC newsroom is attempting the get a little silly season coverage in the bag. An internal memo was issued:

Forget mistletoe and cards bearing images of snow laden branches. The preparation of the wicket for the first Test match of the summer means it is time to start talking Christmas Holders.

So many myths have grown around the Christmas story over the years, and, as longer serving hacks will know, I try every festive season to dispel some of these myths in order to reveal the truth.

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This task has not been motivated by any killjoy desire to destroy cherished illusions, but rather by a professional devotion to the cause of ascertaining the facts. This season, I would like to tell the newsroom story which morphed into the legend of Santa Claus.

Many people think Santa is some bastardised caricature of the religious figure St Nicholas, or an invention of consumer culture. He was neither. Santa Claus was a journo.

His real name was Nicholas Saint, hence the office nickname St Nick. Like all Chiefs of Staff, Nick was widely admired for his great wisdom, magnetic s-xual allure and ability to tap dance over water. He was a tall man, so much so, that those working around him came to be known as elves.

He should be remembered as the inventor of the Christmas Holder. He would often provide written feedback on the performance of reporters under his direction. Sometimes he would attach a supplementary message pertaining to a more immediate issue. Journalists would gossip about these supplementaries. They would whisper to their colleagues that they had been “sent a clause.” Nick was identified so much with this form of communication that it became his alternative name.

One such clause which became an annual event was a request for stories to fill bulletins over the Christmas period. In those days of hard copy, the stories would be put in a sack slung over the edge of Mr Saint’s desk. The Christmas stocking, as it was known, became an expression which moved into common usage.

Knowing the great need of the subs desk at that time of the year, he described the stories as gifts. The stories would be simple, but occasionally Nick would ask journos to bring together different elements in the one story. In this way, the expression Christmas Gift Wrap was born.

We should continue to honour Nick Saint and his journalistic creation, the Christmas Holder. To this end, a yellow folder marked Xmas Holders will live on the EP’s desk. It will contain gift ideas for the Christmas season.

I’m sure you will all be delighted to contribute. Remember that petty humiliations will be visited upon those who fail to be suitably generous.

Compliments of the season.

I subscribe to Crikey because I believe in a free, open and independent media where news and opinions can be published that I can both agree with and be challenged by.

As a Crikey subscriber I always feel more informed and able to think more critically about issues and current affairs – even when they don’t always reflect my own political viewpoint or lived experience.


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