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When my kids were littles – which was a long time ago…

…they always left a Diet Pepsi and cookies for Santa.

Yes, I was a bad dad; I convinced them that the whole milk and cookies thing was a scam and that Santa really liked Diet Pepsi.

I was not, and never have been a milk drinker, and TLW was all opposed to pouring the milk back in the carton after it had sat out all night and we both thought it a waste to pour it down the drain, so – as I drank mass quantities of Diet Pepsi at the time, Diet Pepsi it was.

They bought it, so win-win.

I always wondered why the littles had to bribe Santa with milk and cookies since his one job is to bring toys to all the good little girls and boys.

So of course, I had to do some research.

Much to my surprise, it’s not all that cut and dry, there are theories out there.

And you all know how much I love conspiracy theories; again win-win.

Some think it is linked to the real Saint Nicholas.  During the feast of Saint Nicholas, which is December 6, kids would leave food and drink for the sainted one and all who attended him.  The whole sleigh and eight tiny reindeer thing had not come into to being yet.

In turn, while the kids slept, Saint Nicholas would leave gifts where the food had been.

Then there are those who believe it goes along with the Christmas tree.  The Germans would decorate a paradise tree with apples, wafers, and cookies.  This tradition, as Christianity spread across Europe, would morph into the Christmas Tree and over time, when decoration came from the dime store and not the family kitchen, the wafers and cookies would move to a plate for Santa to snack on.

And then there’s the Norwegian Theory.  Of course the Norwegians have a theory!!

Norse mythology to be exact.  Folks would leave hay and treats for Odin’s eight legged horse, Sleipner, hoping the god would stop by during his Yuletide hunting trip.

Some might say the eight legs morphed over time into eight reindeer and the treats for Odin’s freakish mount would become treats for Santa’s ever so frisky sleigh pullers.

Eight legged horse; what was that guy smokin’?

This story, as the Norwegians conquered parts of northern Europe was passed on to Dutch children who still leave treats for Father Christmas’ horse.

That’s just a few.  There must be 50 or so out there ranging from possible to impractical.

The idea of milk and cookies for Santa didn’t really take off in the US of A until the Great Depression.  Economic hardships touched nearly every home in America and parents who were hanging on by a thread wanted to teach their kids to share even in times of poverty.

They were telling the kids it was important to give to others as the kids hoped for some small gift from Santa.

So this Christmas when your littles leave milk and cookies for the fat man, tell them why.  They aren’t bribing Santa; they are giving as he goes along the way.

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