BY LARRY WOODY
I'm surprised the fed's Department of Occupational Health & Safety hasn't shut down Christmas.
Can you imagine how dangerous it is to try to land a sleigh on a slick, icy roof on Christmas Eve?
In the dark.
With reindeer slipping and sliding everywhere.
Once the sleigh lands, an overweight old geezer has to clamber out and -- struggling under a load of presents on his back -- make his way across the treacherous roof and crawl down a chimney.
The chimney is sooty, which doesn't help Santa's asthma -- brought on by ignoring decades of government warnings about pipe-smoking.
After dumping his packages, the old codger has to climb back up. Have you ever tried to climb UP a chimney? Me neither, but I'll bet it's not easy.
No wonder Santa only gets out once a year. The rest of time he's in traction.
And how come PETA sits around nibbling bean sprouts and ignoring the rampant Reindeer Abuse taking place right under its nose every Christmas?
Hitching those poor deer to an overloaded sleigh and forcing them to fly through a freezing winter night while Santa cracks a whip over their nether regions -- it's enough to make you weep in your tofu.
There's even a red-nosed faun pressed into service. Instead of frolicking in the forest with Bambi, poor little Rudolph -- despite his inflamed nasal condition -- has to spend Christmas Eve guiding a sleigh through a blizzard on a night when the FAA ought to suspend all flights.
Santa doesn't spend much time inside each house -- just long enough to straighten his aching back and scarf down some cookies and eggnog loaded with enough sugar and carbs to clog a moose's arteries.
His haste is understandable. The average Christmas living room is a death trap. Over in the corner totters a sap-oozing conifer ready to explode into an inferno if one of the gadzillion electric bulbs shorts out.
To aid the conflagration, stacks of paper-wrapped cardboard boxes are piled under the tree, along with a snarled snake's-nest of frayed electrical cords.
One spark and an icy roof won't be a problem any longer. Rudolph's nose won't be the only thing that glows on the new-fallen snow.
No wonder Santa is in a hurry to scramble back up the chimney.
As dangerous as all of this may be, the REAL Christmas hazard doesn't occur until a month or so later when Dad opens the envelope containing the credit card charges.
When the bill arrives it's a good idea to have a paramedic standing by. (Shopping suggestion: a defibrillator makes an excellent Christmas gift. Make sure batteries are included; you don't want to keep Dad waiting while you run to the store.)
Despite all the hazards, we continue to celebrate our yuletide traditions. But I'm sure eventually the federal government will feel compelled to step in and impose a long list of regulations designed to protect us from ourselves.
Either that or put a tax on Christmas.