Haha, well it had been on my mind but I figured a week out was OK. I didn't want to be like Macy's or something, trying to start the season right after Halloween. Thanks for the feedback, Fred, and wishing all the season's best to you and to everyone here.
Not that I've heard of, although there was a short story on the old "Just One More Paragraph" fan-fiction site (now sadly gone) on this theme. The story began with the discovery of a dead Santa impersonator with his South Pole sticking out of his pants. I remember it because the author included a wisecrack about it from a character he kindly named "Sergeant Kerin." Anyway the omission is remarkable considering we tend to expect a Christmas episode from any series that lasts 2 or 3 years, and "Columbo" was around, in one form or another, for about 35 years.