Hosted by Niall McDonald '18 and Charlie Hansen '18
Produced and edited by Alexandre LaBossiere '18
By NM '20
From infancy, children are told the tale of the jolly, magical, red man who hails from the North, the peerless, panoptic (recall that he “sees you when you’re sleeping”), omniscient (again recall that “he knows when you’re awake”), eternal being who, every year on the night of December 24th, trespasses into our homes through our chimneys, devours the sacrifice left in his honor, and leaves some manufactured goods in return. Indeed, the statistics are dumbfounding; 526,000,000 children in a single evening, scattered from Boston to Honolulu to London, and everywhere in between. If we assume an average of 5 gifts per child, at 3 pounds per gift, we calculate that Santa’s sleigh has a payload of 3,945,000 tons. And those are conservative estimates. By comparison, the world's largest cargo aircraft, the Antonov An-225 Mriya, has a maximum payload of 275 tons. But do we find an armada of over 14,000 Soviet jets screaming through the skies on the eve of the 24th? No. Believers would argue that the extraordinary payload of Santa’s toboggan can simply be attributed to “the magic of Christmas.”
It was all a lie.
Santa does not indeed live in the North pole; a virtual potpourri of factors repudiate this assertion, the most crucial of which being the infrastructure. We shall use the Hershey factory, which produces around 70 million Hershey Kisses per day, as our paradigm production facility. Assuming an average cost of 0.24$/ounce, and a unit weight of 0.16 ounces/kiss, and a production cycle of 365 days per year, we calculate that the Hershey factory produces $1,022,000,000.00 worth of output each year. With a facility size of 340,000 square feet, output is about $3,010.00/square foot. Now, let’s assume that the monetary output value of Santa’s goods is $100.00/ton. That would mean the net value of the goods that Santa produces would be about $394,500,000.00. Utilizing the output-space efficiency of the Hershey factory, Santa’s factory would need to be around 130,000 square feet, working 365 days a year producing toys. Disregarding the issues with supplying this factory, elf labor unions taking issue with the 24-hour days, and power needed to supply such a massive operation, a factory of such size simply precludes the North Pole being the location of Santa’s factory; were it on the surface, satellite imagery would have detected a building of such proportions, and were it beneath the ice, the factory would meet a watery doom; arctic sea ice is only around six to nine feet thick on average. The logistics of such an operation would give a Harvard Supply Chain Management course graduate a headache, and seem to confirm the dreaded truth; Santa lives not in the Northern Pole.
As for where Santa truly lies, I cannot say. Perhaps hidden away amongst coniferous Russian pines, perhaps embedded in the shifting dunes of the Sahara or the Gobi, one thing is certain; the magic of Christmas lives on. Perhaps, Santa can live on in our hearts, testament of and tantamount to the Christmas joy, merriment, and spirit that permeates every home and every heart in the holiday season. Perhaps, Santa need not be constrained to a geographic tether, but can roam free, not a physical entity but an emotional and spiritual representation of all that Christmas brings, as families come together and celebrate on the memorial of Christ’s birth. Or, perhaps not.
 "omni"-prefixed word for "all seeing"?
 Santa's Christmas Eve Workload, Calculated
Philip Bump - https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/12/santas-christmas-eve-workload-calculated/249844/
 Extreme Machines: Antonov An-225 is the World's Heaviest Plane
 Global Locations
 KISSES Brand Milk Chocolates 25 lb. Case
 How many ounces are in a Hershey's Kiss?
 Hershey says new plant will have $1B impact on Pa.
 National Snow and Ice Data Center
 Supply Chain Management
By Luke Mott '19
This December, St. Albans School hosted the 35th annual Christmas House Tour. People, both young and old, flocked to the house tour with enthusiasm. Well, maybe it was the more seasoned of the crowd who enjoyed the elaborately furnished houses and hour-long origin stories of material possessions.
This year the House Tour traveled to lovely Spring Valley in Northwest D.C. The tour consisted of Victorian and Modern homes, culminating at the Mexican Ambassador's Residence. Inside the residence hung three enormous, red and green, star-shaped Mexican piñatas. What the other homes lacked in festive piñatas, they made up for with holiday spirit. Christmas trees, stockings, and Star Wars posters — the most festive of the three — helped bring cheer to all the houses.
The large majority of young people at the House Tour were freshman and sophomore volunteers peacefully suffering out in the cold. Many freshmen lost their Saturdays, but did so with grace and cheer. Every other child at the house tour was there for a five-dollar pint of candy. Three music groups from the Cathedral Close, Close Encounters, Jackets Off, and Tune In, caroled at the houses to the delight of many guests, truly ushering in the most wonderful time of the year!
All in all, the 35th Christmas House Tour was a resounding success and its proceeds will go on to support the wonderful faculty and staff of St. Albans and the Cathedral Close this holiday season.
By Sandra Mauro '19
Photos by Isabella Houle '19
Winter has come, and it’s time for cold weather treats. Accordingly, here are my top five Open City recommendations for the season:
1. Peppermint Hot Chocolate - $3.50
A new addition to the Open City menu, this decadent drink has the perfect ratio of peppermint to chocolate. It’s a wonderful spin on the classic hot cocoa and is topped with a swirl of whipped cream.
2. Apple Cider Cupcake - $3.00
Cupcakes are fabulous year round, but this new-comer to the Open City menu is especially perfect for the holiday season. It tastes just like apple cider, with hints of cinnamon and apple. This treat gets the aesthetic award for the icing mountain and cinnamon stick decoration.
3. Grilled Cheese - $8.25
You can’t go wrong with a grilled cheese sandwich. This quintessentially American treat is crispy and undoubtedly cheesy. We failed at taking a picture of a good cheese pull, but trust me, this grilled cheese is amazing!
4. Hot Cider - $3.00
Best for keeping your fingers from freezing off in 30-degree weather. Piping hot and not overpoweringly cinnamon-y. Get this tasty treat on the treacherous hike between NCS and STA.
5. Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Streusel - $7.00
This treat is a fun twist on the timeless pumpkin pie with a brown sugar and pecan crumble on top. The crust is buttery and flaky. It comes with whipped cream on the side and the portion of pie is large by Open City standards.
By Chloe Campbell '19
It’s that time of year again; the holiday season is at its nuttiest. For most on the close, the Washington Ballet’s Nutcracker is a show that they may have seen as a beaming child, as a yearly holiday tradition, or even as a vague memory of graceful Sugarplums and flitting snowflakes. However, to me, the ballet represents nine years of dancing: my roles ranging from an animated clown to a dreaming, naïve Clara.
The Nutcracker is adapted by ballet companies around the world. Traditionally, the plot follows a young Clara who receives a nutcracker for Christmas which whisks her away into the dream land of sweets. She watches delectable performances of dancers depicting Russian candy canes, marzipan sheep, Arabian coffee, Spanish chocolate, Chinese tea, and other sweet treats.
However, Septime Webre, the former artistic director and choreographer of the Washington Ballet, added a truly American twist to the story. Our ballet is set in Victorian-era Georgetown, complete with grand party dresses and dapper attire. The battle scene features George Washington as the Nutcracker and King George of England as the rat king. In addition, the land of the sweets is replaced with episodic performances of various characteristics of D.C. The waltz of the cherry blossoms is set at the tidal basin, and various historical figures such as Frederick Douglas, Benjamin Franklin, and Betsy Ross make appearances. This clever interpretation of the ballet is almost a U.S. history class brought to life.
One of my roles in the show this year is a big butterfly in the opening of Act II. After the last period of a demanding day at school, I hurriedly pack up my bags and rush to the ballet studios to take a warm-up class.
After an hour and a half of jumping and twirling, my friends and I travel to the Warner Theatre downtown. We run through the stage door from the cold and pass green-eyed rat head masks and other whimsical props on our way to check in next to our casting for the night. In the dressing room I twist my hair into a neat “French twist” and pin in a purple flower hairpiece. I finish my makeup complete with winged eyeliner and just a touch of glitter.
While watching the first act, I tie my pointe shoes, ensuring that my ribbons stay restrained with a spritz of hairspray. After slipping on my sleek, iridescent costume, the band of butterflies and I climb the stairs to the stage. After we secure our wings to our backs, we creep behind the curtains and await the first notes of Tchaikovsky’s music. A stagehand to my left turns on a dry ice machine and the fine mist begins to glide across the stage. Hearing the soft sounds of the music, I crawl beneath its blanket to my mark across from my fellow butterfly and classmate, Annabel MacDonald.
As the curtain rises, eight beautiful butterflies emerge from of the mist. My arms fly up and down to the music and my feet flutter across the stage into parallelograms with the other butterflies in unison. We invite the the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Cavalier to enter, and then greet Clara and the Prince. After our flying is done, we bow and float offstage.
Walking to the dressing room, I remove my wings and begin to reenter the real world of responsibilities: returning home to finish my school work.
This holiday season, I encourage you to pause your everyday life and take a magical trip into the whimsical world of a truly American Nutcracker.
By Street Roberts '20
The Holiday Season. It’s the time of year when families get together to spread love and joy. The time of year to sing Christmas carols around a blazing fire. The time of year to spend the day sledding and be welcomed home with a steaming cup of hot cocoa, with extra marshmallows, of course. However, every one of these typical scenes seems to be associated with one thing: snow. The idea of a “White Christmas,” when at least an inch or two of snow fall on Christmas, has been ingrained into our culture with songs like “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby and classic movies like “A Christmas Carol.” Millions of families hope for the opportunity to open presents on Christmas with snow falling fast around them, creating a picturesque scene.
However, with warming temperatures and the effects of climate change, the prospect of a White Christmas seems dimmer than ever. In fact, the website WillIGetAWhiteChristmas.com predicts only a 25% chance for a White Christmas to occur in the Washington D.C. area. The release of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, into our atmosphere have led to a global warming effect that has changed ocean temperatures, melted ice caps, destroyed animal habitats, and created unpredictable weather patterns. In addition, climate change has led to a much shorter snow season due to the increased global temperatures. Interestingly enough, there seems to be an increased chance for more massive blizzards, despite the shrinking snow season. Based on a report from IFL Science, “the ‘Goldilocks’ set of conditions that are just right to result in a super snowstorm,” meaning temperatures between 28-32 degrees Fahrenheit, are “becoming more likely in mid-winter because of human-induced climate change.” Despite this, the chances for any snow at all on Christmas have dropped significantly.
“Climate change upends life as we know it. And unless we want to change the dates for Christmas, we should all be dreaming, not necessarily of a white Christmas, but of solutions to climate change,” said the CEO of World Wildlife Fund, Carter Roberts, in a recent interview. Solving the problem of climate requires great innovation, and thousands of people have been working extremely hard to come up with solutions. Replacing fossil fuels with new sustainable energy, such as wind turbines, offers us one solution and gives us a glimpse into the future of energy in the world. Additionally, laws and agreements between countries have been established, such as the Paris Climate Agreement in 2016, which was aimed at reducing use of fossil fuels worldwide. Although President Trump decided to pull out of this agreement, thousands of businesses, cities, and states have rallied together to continue the fight against climate change by upholding the Paris Agreement. With acts of unity like this by the American people, hope exists for people around the world to have a “White Christmas” in the future. I know I’ll be dreaming of one.
By Liam Warin '20
December 24th: a monumental day on the holiday shopping calendar. The last possible time someone could hope to buy presents for loved ones in time for Christmas. Knowing this, I left all of my shopping until this fateful day.
I woke up at 11:30 a.m. and immediately read through the list of presents I needed to buy. For Mom, a book. For Joe, a soccer ball. For Bob, a winter coat. And now we come to Dad. My dad is known throughout the family for being notoriously hard to buy for. Every year, my family has come up with something creative that we were sure would peak his interest, and every year we’ve been disappointed. This year HAD to be different. I decided to draw a star next to his name to remind myself to think of a gift for him.
Realizing that I only had a finite amount of time before the Christmas Eve church service at 6:00, I hastily ran downstairs to grab a bite to eat. I checked the pantry for some cereal, but we had none left. “I’ll just grab something to eat at the mall,” I thought, and started walking towards the car.
“Liam!” Mom exclaimed.
“Hey, Mom, how are you?”
“Joe broke his leg, and will be out of sports for a few months.”
“Merry Christmas!” I responded joyfully, not paying attention to what she had said.
I hopped in the car and started the engine. It was too low on gas to make it all the way out to Tysons Corner. I drove to the local gas station and made it there with little gas to spare. I put the pump into the car and waited. BUZZ! BUZZ! BUZZ! I reached into my pocket and grabbed my phone, only to see that my brother Bob was calling me. Bob had moved to Sacramento, California, yesterday, a difficult transition from the city life of the Big Apple. However, he planned on making the flight to D.C. tomorrow morning after he had moved in.
“What’s up, buddy?” he affectionately said.
“Hey, Bobby! How’s the 916 treating you?”
“It’s much warmer than New York. Even though it is only 50 degrees, I don’t think I’ll ever have to wear a warm jacket ever again! Can’t wait to see you tomorrow!” By now, all of the gas was fully pumped and I got into my car, but realized I couldn’t talk and drive in the District.
“How’s accounting looking there? And yeah, I can’t wait either!” I said, not sure if I was referring to seeing him or ending this call so that I could go shopping.
“You know, same old, same old. No travel, all business. How’s Christmas break?”
“It’s been great. So relieving to have nothing to worry about. Anyway, I’ve gotta go and do some last minute shopping.”
“Alright well, good catching up. We’ll talk some more tomorrow. See ya!”
I finally got in my car and drove to the mall. The next few hours were very productive. First, I went to the Under Armour outlet and bought a nice soccer ball for Joe. I then visited Barnes and Noble and bought Mom the specific book she’d asked for, Summerlong by Dean Bakopoulos. I finished at the North Face after buying Bob a black winter coat.
Home at last. All gifts bought. Time for church. I took a quick shower and changed. All the stress of the holiday season was over! Or so I thought.
I came downstairs to find my brother walking around with a cast on his left leg.
Oh no! I had forgotten that Joe had injured his leg, and that a soccer ball would be of no use to him for a couple more months, taking away most of the excitement of the gift. “Alright,” I thought, “So that’s not good, but at least he will be able to use it sometime.” However, I still needed to find a gift for him that he could use right when he got it.
I attempted to consult my with Mom about this situation, but she was changing in the bathroom. I waited for her to get out, but before I could speak, she told me news that would add on to the ever-growing list of my concerns.
“Hey, Liam! That book you bought me for Christmas last year, Summerlong, is so good! I binge-read some of the book while you were gone. Thank you so much for giving that to me!”
Shocked and confused, I responded with a feeble “you’re welcome” and walked away.
It was church time. Mom told me that Bob got the early flight and that Dad would pick him up and they would meet us at home after church. And then it finally clicked. I had forgotten to buy Dad a present, and Bob’s expensive winter coat would be of no use to him as the only time he ever travels is to D.C.
It was quite fitting for me to have this reckoning right before the service, as it gave me time to contemplate my actions. In my selfishness, I had lost my value of family. After the service, I decided to have my own confession. When we arrived home, I gathered the family into the family room and told them the events of the day, gift by gift. But, most of all, I told them how sorry and ashamed I was of my actions, and how they were never going to happen to them again. I vowed to do whatever I could to reverse my actions.
Although it took lots of hard work and effort, I learned a lesson about the importance of family that money cannot buy.
By Raj Sastry '20
Songs from Lessons and Carols. Smells of spiced coffee. Two early snowfalls. Yes, it’s definitely winter again, and with each day comes more and more anticipation for break. Time to spend with family, friends, The Odyssey, and Henry IV. Wait, The Odyssey and Henry IV?
A yearly question, and no answer so far: why can’t we have exams before break? Winter break should be a time for rest, especially after completing the first semester, not a time for studying and pressure. Now I’m sure some of those reading this are thinking right now, “Ah, but you’re ignoring the fact that we get more time to study for those exams.” A valid point, yes, but irrelevant seeing as less content is to be covered if say, we take exams a week before we adjourn for break. Furthermore, exams after break catch students at a vulnerable time — fresh from relaxation, and used to long and restful days. After a prolonged period of not thinking about school, a two-hour exam on four months’ worth of content is a lot to chew on. Rather, students should be tested before break while the content is fresh in their minds. Additionally, there’s simply no time to communicate with teachers over break as there is during the school year. Sure, one can try an email, but if I were a faculty member, I probably wouldn’t respond — after all, winter break is for students and teachers. Speaking of teachers, rather than having to grade quickly and submit comments in the four-day weekend after exams, grading can happen at their leisure over break.
I’m not suggesting that administration should dismantle midterms like MCPS (Montgomery County Public Schools) has done. No, I’m just stating that from a student’s perspective, I’d like to have the peace of mind that nothing is looming in the distance after break. Rather than force students to spend time studying over break — thus, after all, defeating the purpose of a “break” — I believe that administration should at least consider moving exams to benefit students.
This article has been removed per request of the author.