I grew up in the era when we talked about the Russians and the Chinese as the crowd we wanted to shy away from.
They were communists.
When I learned geography in grade school, we called that great big country "Red" China. I was in a bookstore in Athens when I was a teenager and saw a copy of "Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung." I looked around to see if anyone was looking before I picked it up. I then had second thoughts and went into the restroom and washed my hands with soap and hot water.
Now, most of the stuff sold at retail stores comes from China.
I am a little young to have first-hand memory of Nikita Khrushchev banging his shoe on the podium and declaring "We will bury you."
The Soviet leader I remember most is Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev, who had the thickest eyebrows of any human being I have ever seen. If they ever exiled him to Siberia, he could have stayed warm just wrapped up in those eyebrows.
I spent the first half of my life being told these were bad guys. As I understood it, they all wanted us to wear gray clothes and black shoes and march to the beat of the same drummer.
When it comes to the Chinese and the Russians, I am reminded of Ronald Reagan's words, "Trust...then verify."
There is a published report this week that the Russians are sending a submarine deep underneath the North Pole and are going to plant a Russian flag on the bottom of the ocean to claim it for their own.
The North Pole?
Wait a minute. What is going to happen to Santa Claus? What about the elves and the reindeer?
The North Pole was a place that belonged to the whole wide world, just like Santa.
He was ours to the extent that he would come about Thanksgiving to big stores like Rich's and hang out and listen to our Christmas lists.
But the North Pole was that universal place where Santa would read the letters of children in every language and would fly around the world on Christmas Eve to make their dreams come true.
Turns out the Russians want the North Pole for oil located deep beneath the sea.
The wonderful land of candy canes and twinkling lights is going to look like West Texas.
What is the world coming to?
The Russians want to take over the North Pole.
The poor elves are going to have their elf hats replaced with one of those Russian jobs with the ear flaps.
The Russians are also real partial to that high kick marching, which could be very difficult in curly-toed shoes.
The cookies and milk will be replaced by borscht, that awful beet soup, and vodka.
If you think you have trouble putting stuff together on Christmas morning, just imagine what's going to happen when you have to trust that job to a bunch of drunk elves.
And what about the flying? When Santa comes flying into U.S. airspace on a Russian flagged sleigh, that will surely bring out the Air Force. How can kids be expected to sleep when Santa's being tailed by a fighter jet.
This is pretty scary stuff.
But I have faith in Santa. He hasn't let me down in 46 years. He's been living up there next door to the Russians forever. If the choice is Santa or the Russians, my money is still on Santa. You get 'em big guy.
Harris Blackwood, a native of Social Circle, is on the editorial board of The Gainesville Times. Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org