ON CHRISTMAS Eve Santa will finally shout "Chucks away" and his reindeer will gather speed and pull his sleigh up in to the sky. It is common knowledge that his vehicle will be packed with gifts for the children of the world.
Less attention has been given to what his lunch box may be packed with. Packed lunches now figure prominently in the life of many primary schools pupils. A class of Primary 1 children were willing to fill in some of the gaps in the knowledge of what Santa's packed lunch box contains.
Adults may feel that this is the case of greed rather than need. Have they not been leaving out mince pies for Santa and carrots for his reindeer for many years? Small wonder the chap is on the portly side.
However, as the Primary 1 pupils pointed out, all adults are not so thoughtful and in addition Santa's huge task requires huge sustenance.
"Santa does get sweeties and wine from people and he eats it but he needs a packed lunch box in case people forget to put stuff out."
"There will be lots in Santa's lunch box because he gets very hungry because he has to go to different places. All the journeys make him hungry and he has to climb down chimneys. Its hard work so he needs lots to eat."
Packed lunch boxes are now a fashion accessory. A packed lunch box can display football team, cartoon character or latest toy craze. Santa's packed lunch box understandably displays elements of Christmas.
"His box would have a snowman on it because it is a Christmasey thing. "
"It would have a picture of Santa, his sleigh and reindeer."
An alternative school of thought felt that the packed lunch box could have an additional function.
"On the top of his packed lunch box there would be a map so that he can look at it in case he gets lost and can't find his way."
With the self-righteousness that comes of being five years old, one child felt it important that Santa's box was placed out of the reach of untrustworthy children.
"He keeps it on a seat and its very high up so that no little bairns can get it and start playing with it or breaking it."
An alternative viewpoint was that Santa would carry his packed lunch around with him. Like many burglars it appears he might fancy something to eat in the middle of a job.
"He takes his packed lunch with him when he goes down the chimney. He mustn't leave it behind because he might get very hungry and will have to hunt on the sleigh for it. He might not be able to find it because of all the toys. "
Santa's elf-helpers were nominated as the packed lunch makers. These are not slap dash workers, forsaking beauty for bulk. Appearance is important.
"They'd make him nice sandwiches with bits of turkey on them."
"They make lots of sandwiches and they use special cutter things and his sandwiches are in the shape of Christmas trees and angels."
Santa's sandwiches require some insulation and not merely from the icy winds in the extremes of the northern hemisphere.
"His sandwiches are wrapped in tin foil to keep them cool because he goes to very very very hot places like Bulgaria and Australia."
Healthy eating is essential for a man who requires to be sustained throughout a long night.
"He'd have a banana because bananas make you fast because they're good for you."
"He'd have some sort of pasta because it would make him work faster to deliver the presents. My Mum says pasta gives you energy so if Santa had some pasta he'd be able to skip and hop and go down the houses very quickly."
Fluid intake was also seen as important and not merely because of possible dehydration as a result of drinking all these complimentary nip and cans.
"He needs some water to keep him cool because he might get too hot because he's got really thick clothes on."
Santa still has the concessionary treat in his packed lunch box although even this could be argued to have a useful effect on Santa's metabolism.
"He would have some fizzy lollies because it tickles your teeth and it would help to keep him awake."
What extra additions would be in the packed lunch box? Health and safety issues figured prominently in this list.
"He would have a doctor's bit in his box in case he hurt himself. He might slip on ice or he might get cut going down a chimney."
"He might fall down the chimney too quickly and he would end up bumping his head."
In addition there is always the nightmarish possibility for Santa that someone, somewhere has thoughtlessly left their fire burning.
"He might get burnt because the fire could still be on or it could still be very hot. He'll need cotton pads, water and plasters or a bandage."
The final items in the packed lunch box are not for Santa.
"Santa has to have water and carrots and lettuce for the reindeers because they get thirsty and hungry because there's too much pushing with their feet to push the sleigh up in the sky to move."
It's a big box, it takes lots to fill it, but then look on the bright side - he won't get tired of what is on his sandwiches. He only has to eat them once a year.
Ally Budge teaches in a Caithness primary.