Thu | Aug 17, 2017

The Special Ones

Published:Saturday | December 20, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Jose Mourinho is not the only 'Special One' at the Chelsea Football Club in England. One in five children surveyed at a mall in England believes that Jesus plays for Chelsea and is probably one of the new stars signed by Mourinho earlier this year. This puts Chelsea not just at the top of the table but the head of it as well.

There was a story about a kid who saw a sign and thought that Jesus was Chelsea's goalkeeper. The sign said, "Jesus saves." Actually, half of the children, aged between five and 10, also believed that all the festivities on December 25 are in honour of Santa Claus, whose birthday we celebrate on that day.

Even more astonishing is that about 35 per cent of the children believe that Jesus was born in the South Pole (the other half, the North, belongs to Santa). Getting things even more mixed up, one in every 10 of the kids is convinced that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was in the stable in Bethlehem when Christ was born. They're not too sure about Olive. Well, since the song refers to Olive in passing as "Olive the other reindeer ...", who obviously was not very nice since she used to laugh and call Rudolph names, it is not surprising that she was left out.

WAZE to Bethlehem

So how did Rudolph get there? Well, unlike the shepherds, he flew. About 25 per cent of the British kids knew that some shepherds found Jesus but believed they had help from superior technology. They used Google Maps. What about the Three Wise Men? While the survey did not ask the children about how the Wise Men kept faithfully to the path, despite field, fountain, moor and mountain, most of them seemed to know that they followed a star. Whether it was a male or female star is another story. What it boils down to is that there are different WAZE of getting to Bethlehem.

Incredibly, 27 per cent of the British children believed that Mary gave birth to Jesus in a church. Which means that for some of them, their image of what happened must be pretty wild. There is Mary in church, Joseph probably in the manger to ensure that the relationship remained stable, so Jesus the Chelsea footballer would not be traumatised, especially since he had to deal later in life with the temperamental Mourinho, who might be there already trying to sign him early while shepherds, with smartphones and laptops, shuttled between sites and Santa, being pulled by Rudolph and jeered by Olive, attempting to get there with his gifts for Christ before the Wise Men arrived, or even taking the place of Jesus as the birthday boy despite their being poles apart.

While we are not sure what gifts Santa had in mind for Jesus, many of the kids were pretty clear on what the Three Wise Men brought from afar. They said that instead of gold, frankincense and myrrh, the men were wise enough to bring some very useful stuff - a wand, tiara and wings.

There are some kids in the survey who have serious doubts that Jesus plays for Chelsea. In fact, some argue that Jesus is an astronaut. Others insist he is a contestant on Britain's 'X-Factor' television music show. Not all kids are so naive or uninformed. A Mafioso's son sat at his desk writing a Christmas list to Jesus. He first wrote, "Dear Baby Jesus, I have been a good boy the whole year, so I want a new ... ." He looked at it, then crumpled it up into a ball and threw it away. He got out a new piece of paper and wrote again, "Dear Baby Jesus, I have been a good boy for most of the year, so I want a new ... ." He again looked at it with disgust and threw it away. He then got an idea. He went into his mother's room, took a statue of the Virgin Mary, put it in the closet, and locked the door. He took another piece of paper and wrote, "Dear Baby Jesus. If you ever want to see your mother again ... ."

The basic 'facts'

It is really difficult to understand that out of a thousand British children, so many would not know the basic 'facts' of Christmas. In fact, while some people may argue that as a matter of fact the facts are not necessarily facts, but stories that children might be better off not knowing, there are still some who see the traditional Christmas, with its mix of the Christ tale and the Santa stories, the blend of religion and fantasy, the White Christmas of Bing Crosby, as positive.

Long ago, when I was a boy going to an Anglican school learning and acting out with my class the story of the birth of Jesus, practising the carols and singing them at the annual concert, waiting expectantly for the Christmas treat, looking forward to my bun and 'sweet' drink, it was a happy time. Even now, we still continue the tradition of reserving Christmas for family.

I no longer go to the Midnight Mass at the nearest Catholic church, but Christmas continues to be special, with the occasional break for reflection and thanks. Santa is a myth. Some people think that Jesus is, too. However, mixing them up and believing that Jesus is a Chelsea player is really going too far. Mourinho already thinks he's God.

Remember that Jesus is a pacifist and advocates turning the other cheek. That means we have to rule out Arsenal. No way HE would have anything to do with a team known as the Gunners. Spurs? No. HE is all for people coming closer together and representing a common cause. In other words, HE is for one-ness. So if he ever becomes a footballer, there is only one club Jesus would play for - Manchester United.

n Tony Deyal was last seen asking, "How does Luis Suarez like his Christmas lunch?" Bite-size.