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The Children’s Battalion–Santa and Guns, 1916


I don’t know the Illustrated History of Santa and Gun Gifts, but I guess that a book could be written if one already doesn’t exist.  Well, that or something associating Santa with unusual, or questionable, gifts in his bags of joy could be made into something, something disappointing.  I’m not that person to collect those sorts of images because I have always held Santa in very high esteem, and I don’t care to have too many of those images floating in my mind, exploiting some dark corners of unknown memories, disturbing the happy bits with unneeded and unwanted visual info.  But, well, these pictures below, found in the December 1916 issue of the uncommonly-seen journal, Illustrated World, provides a little glimpse into the manufactured desires of kid-wishes for toys during wartime, and so I’ll pass them along.  These things do tell us something about the period–like the famous multiple images of Santa hanging cigarette carton Christmas ornaments (seen here in the post on Gift Porn, 1954), or a smoking Santa stuff a stocking with a box of Lucky Strikes–so it makes sense to make sense of them.
I guess kids have fairly well always wanted toys (or not) guns for Christmas,  gifts from Santa, or at least so long as Santa has been around or identified as so, and to see Santa with a rifle would not be so unusual, especially given that this was deep into the second year of the bloody Great War.  (I have another interesting image here, somewhere, showing Santa distributing presents to British troops in trenches, riding a tank, but presently I can’t find its stack in a stack of stacks.)
Perhaps the issue of playing with guns and cannons and so on was a way of easing fear and distress during wartime;more

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