# Santa’s weighty problem

“Oh my goodness!” exclaimed Mrs Claus, as midnight approached on Christmas Eve. “I swear you put on more weight each year! You do give those reindeer a really hard time, you know.”

“Nonsense my dear!” responded Santa. “I doubt I weigh any more than last year. Anyway, my reindeer are more than capable.”

“We must check your BMI,” explained Mrs Claus.

“My what?”

“Your Body Mass Index. I’m sure it’s way too high. Now don’t argue, just get on the scales!”  Santa duly stepped onto the bathroom scales, and looked down at the reading.

“Hmm, a bit under 110 kilos. What was I last year?”

“Only 95, and that was after you had just had dinner. Now let’s measure your height.” Mrs Claus ran a tape measure from her husband’s head to the floor. “One point eight metres. Now let’s see – 110 divided by 1.8 divided by 1.8 again – for heaven’s sake, Santa, that’s 34! Getting on for severely obese, and to think last year you were only overweight. This really does not look good for your health, and you can’t expect those poor reindeer to take off with the weight of you AND all the children’s toys.”

“It will be fine, m’dear. Just you see. Now wish me well, and I’ll see you in the morning!” With that Santa put on his bright red coat and trousers and headed out the door, where he found his sleigh fully loaded and ready to go. The reindeer were already pawing the snow anxious to get started, while the elves were finishing their last round of checks that all was secure. “Right, Dasher and Dancer, right Prancer and Vixen, let’s be going. Onwards Cupid, Comet, Donner and Blitzen. Where’s Rudol – oh, here he is. Come on Rudolph, you’re holding us all up!”

With all reindeer in place, Santa gave the signal to be off. But the sleigh barely moved. Not even nine reindeer could gain enough traction in the snow.  “Come on my reindeer, we need to go faster, or there will be a lot of disappointed children in the morning!”

“Er – er – we can’t seem to move fast enough for take off,” ventured Rudolph, “The sleigh’s too heavy. We will have to leave some toys behind. About 30 kg should do it.”

“Leave toys behind?! That’s impossible! Think of all those children who would wake up tomorrow morning with empty Christmas stockings. Can’t you try a bit harder?” This time, the reindeer pulled with all their might, but still they couldn’t reach take-off speed. “Oh deary me, what am I going to do?” sighed Santa. “How can we get to take-off speed and yet take all toys with us? Well my elves, do you have any ideas?”

The chief elf, who only weighed 40 kg, came up with a plan. “I could pilot the sleigh for you,“ he suggested. “But I would need directions.”

“I like that idea,” whispered Rudolph to the other reindeer. “That would make the sleigh 70 kilos lighter. We could easily pull that.”

Santa pondered the chief elf’s suggestion. But he was very apprehensive about the idea. What if, in spite of directions, the elf got lost, and started delivering the wrong toys to the wrong children? What if he delivered toys meant for good children and instead delivered them to naughty children who didn’t deserve any? “No, chief elf,” said Santa after many minutes of deep thought. “I don’t think that would work. Too risky. We will have to think of something else.”

By this time, it was getting close to midnight. Santa, still sitting on the sleigh, realised that if he didn’t find a solution very quickly, he was never going to be able to deliver all the toys before the children woke up on Christmas morning. Just as he was starting to think that, for the first time ever, no child in the world was going to get any toys in time for Christmas, there was a bright light in the sky.

Swoosh, swoosh! There in front of the sleigh stood a kindly old lady with a magic wand in her hand. “I see you have a bit of a problem!” she observed.

“Who are you?” said Santa, very startled at this apparition.

“I am the fairy godmother of the world’s Body Mass Index. And I see that yours is going to cause a lot of grief for you and, more importantly, for all those good children who deserve their toys.”

“Can you help me?” pleaded Santa.

“Well,” replied the fairy godmother. “I can – but you will have to promise me something.”

“Yes, anything, just tell me what to do!”

The fairy godmother continued. “As I understand it, your BMI is almost 35. That’s bad – really, really bad. I can reduce it to around 25. For that though you will need to shed about 30 kilos.”

The reindeer, overhearing the conversation, looked up expectantly at the fairy godmother. “That would be right for us to be able to take off,” said Rudolph. “Could you do that for us?”

“Yes I can – but Santa, you will have to promise me, for the sake of your reindeer and your health, to try to keep your BMI to under 25 for ever more. Oh, and I’ll tell Mrs Claus to stop feeding you so much. Can you keep this promise for me?”

“Oh yes, fairy godmother, if it means that all the children will get their toys. Yes indeed.”

“Very well,” said the fairy godmother. “Close your eyes and count to ten.” The fairy godmother did a quick wave of her magic wand just as Santa did indeed close his eyes and count to ten.

When Santa opened his eyes, the fairy godmother had gone. Suddenly he noticed that his red coat was very loose about him. When he stood up, his trousers nearly fell down! All the reindeer laughed at this. The chief elf was also trying hide a large smile across his whole face. “Be quiet, you reindeer!” Santa exclaimed. “It’s not nice to laugh at Santa because his trousers nearly fell down. The same goes for you, chief elf!”

Rudolph quickly stopped laughing. “I think it’s time we must go,” he said to Santa. “It’s only one minute to midnight.”

“Yes indeed,” replied Santa. “Are all you reindeer ready?”

“Yes!!” they all chorused together.

“Then let us be off!”

With a great big effort, all the reindeer pulled as hard as they could, and the sleigh built up ever more speed. “V1!” called out Santa. A few seconds later, and Santa again called out, “Rotate!” The sleigh lifted off and rose into the night sky just as the clock was striking midnight. All the children in the world got their toys in time for Christmas morning. And to this day, Santa has kept his promise to keep his BMI under 25.

And you should try to as well.

## Author: UK Metric Association

Campaigning for a single, rational system of measurement

## 3 thoughts on “Santa’s weighty problem”

1. Michael Glass says:

I like it! It’s fun and it’s educational, too. Could it be illustrated and published?

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2. johnf says:

@Michael Glass:

Something we could certainly look into. Not for this Christmas though…

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3. Martin Vlietstra says:

Here are two pictures that are out of copyright:

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