Thursday December 22, 2011 | 02:44 PM

That Santa. He's a giver.

The man labors all year in an isolated factory in a frigid land for the simple purpose of delivering a bit of gift-wrapped glee to the children of the world.

That makes him a swell dude.

That also makes him the sort of altruist whose mere existence makes the rest of us look bad. Even the supremely charitable among us seems to pale in comparison to Father Christmas. (What's that? You painstakingly whittled 37 palm-sized jungle cats to cheer a dozen toyless, orphaned children? How sweet! Of course Santa took care of the other 1.9 billion kids - hand-delivering wonder and delight around the the globe in the same time it took you to decide which pants to wear - but I'm sure those twelve orphans loved their stick animals!)

Next to Santa, no one can win.

What we need is a holiday hero who makes us look better. We need a figure whose avarice is so extreme and whose countenance is so abhorrent that even the cheapest of cheapskates will be cheered in his home on Christmas morning.

We need the Yule Goat.

The Yule Goat - much like Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas, Kriss Kringle and Santa - is a Christmas symbol that's seen its fair share of metamorphosis. Recognized in Scandinavia and Northern Europe, it's believed that the Yule Goat once symbolized the goat slaughtered during the pagan winter festival of Yule. Nowadays, it's a Christmas ornament made of straw.

But in its heyday, the Yule Goat was seen as "an ugly creature that frightened children and demanded gifts at Christmas," according to folklore.

Now that's the kind of Christmas celebrity we misers can get behind.

A re-gifted basket of Pert 3-in-1 shampoo won't seem so bad compared to a rabid goat that shows up Christmas morning to scare your nephews and steal your HD TV.

The Yule Goat is like that misbehaving, misdemeanor-amassing cousin whose presence at Christmas makes all the otherwise underachieving relatives feel like saints.

I've always liked that cousin.

Yule Goat, you're welcome in my house anytime.

About the Author

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Shannon Bryan, content producer for MaineToday Media, likes exploring Maine - from mattress races to cardboard boats, she's into the weird stuff.

Karen Beaudoin, online editor for MaineToday Media, likes knowing the important things - like who's just opened their deck for a sunny afternoon beer and what Portland's eclectic set of street performers are up to.

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