Every December, I write a column about spoofed Christmas toys. To get some ideas for the column, I give Santa a call at the North Pole and ask him what little boys and girls around the world are requesting he leave under their Christmas trees.
But this year, it was different. The jolly old soul didn’t answer the phone with his usual “ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas!” He just said: “Clause speaking. It’s that time of year, again.”
I could tell something was wrong. “What’s the matter, Santa? You don’t sound like your jolly old self,” I said.
“I’ve been operating out of the North Pole for hundreds of years, and now I have to relocate my operations … the workshop, the reindeer stable, and the cozy house Mrs. Clause loves.”
“You’re moving from the North Pole?” I asked. “Why? What happened?”
“You know how dark it is up here half the year,” he said. “Well, the elves kept pestering me to get them a TV. So I got them a large-screen satellite TV, and they were watching this program that said by 2050 the ice at the North Pole was going to melt.”
“Look at the bright side, Santa,” I said, trying to cheer him up, “your reindeer will probably love frolicking in the grass.”
“You don’t understand. The South Pole is ice-covered land, but the North Pole is on ice-covered water. If the ice melts, we’ll just sink into the Arctic Ocean.”
“Ooh, that’s not good. Where are you thinking of relocating?”
“Canada and Norway have the closest land; the reindeer all want to go to Norway because that’s where they’re from.”
“I didn’t know that.”
“You never noticed they can’t pronounce their Js and they’re always hollering ‘yumpin’ yimminy, another chimminy’ when they deliver presents? It drives me crazy.”
“Well, Norway is nice if you like salted fish.”
“The problem is Russia claims it owns the North Pole. When Putin heard the ice was melting, he sent a submarine here to plant a Russian flag on the ocean floor.”
“No, Putin believes there’s oil and other valuable minerals in the Arctic, and he’s filed a formal claim with the United Nations under the 1982 Law of the Sea that says a country can claim exclusive economic control over any part of the ocean above the continental shelf that sits next to its borders.”
“Why don’t you move your whole operation to the U.S.? There’s already a town in Alaska named North Pole,” I suggested.
“I love your malls, but I couldn’t make toys in the U.S. I would have to get health insurance for all the elves, and pay them $15 an hour plus quadruple time for working Christmas Eve … And I don’t think they would let my elves into your country. They have extreme vetting now, and my elves don’t have proper papers.”
“That could be a problem,” I agreed.
“PETA would accuse me of cruelty to animals for making my reindeer fly in all kinds of weather; pagans would accuse me of cultural appropriation and try to get Santa hats and Christmas trees banned; the government would want me to give kids stalks of rhubarb instead of candy canes; and OSHA would ban me from going down chimneys.”
“But the people here love you!”
“But your president hates fat people. If he doesn’t get his tax reform package all wrapped up and under his tree for Christmas, he’ll blame me. He’ll probably give me a nickname like ‘Flying Fatso’ and weight-shame me on Twitter. He’ll tell everybody I’m fake. And the next thing you know, little boys and girls will stop believing in me.”
“Well, there have always been questions about how real you are. You have your birth certificate, don’t you? By the way, how are the elves taking all this?”
“I wish I had never gotten them that TV. They love the Science Channel, and now they’re all afraid they’re going to be replaced by robots. And they told the reindeer they’ll be replaced by delivery drones with little plastic antlers.
“Amazon and other internet merchants have gotten pretty good at delivering packages … Some even offer free delivery. They may be fast, but they just drop the packages at your doorstep and leave. We bring them into your house and set them up all nice and neat under your Christmas tree. And all we ask in return is a plate of cookies.”
“You and your crew certainly make Christmas special. I remember how excited I was as a child seeing all those presents under the tree on Christmas morning. A beeping drone isn’t as charming as Jolly Old St. Nick.”
“That was 60 years ago,” Santa said. “It’s not the same today. The kids once wrote me charming letters, and when I went to department stores or a mall, there would be long lines of children waiting to climb on my lap and tell me what they wanted me to bring them. Today, they text me their list — ‘Dude, here’s what to bring me for Xmas.’ And when they climb on my lap, they don’t talk to me; they’re too busy texting their friends and taking selfies with me.”
I tried to imagine Christmas without Santa. “You’re still going to deliver presents this year, aren’t you?” I asked.
“Well, I have been talking to an Internet start-up company that wants to develop a Santa app,” he confessed.
“Nooooooo!” I screamed. “You can’t be replaced by an app!”
That’s when my wife woke me up and told me it was all just a terrible nightmare. She reassured me that Santa and his reindeer would be delivering presents this year, but also reminded me that Christmas is not supposed to be about getting presents from Santa; it is when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, God’s gift to us.
“Does that mean I’ll get the presents I asked for in my letter to Santa this year?”
“Only if you’ve been a good little boy,” she said.