“Yes, I did, elf. I have some bad news,” Santa said. “I have to lay off half the staff. Cost reductions. We have to stay competitive in this global economy.”
Competitive? Competitive with whom? The elf was confused. As far back as anyone could recall, there had been only one Santa Claus.
“But it’s Christmas, sir,” the elf pleaded. “Must it happen now?”
“Actually, that’s the way it’s usually done, elf,” Santa replied. “And next year I’m moving the workshop to China.”
The elf was stunned. “Isn’t there any alternative, Master Claus?” Moving the shop would devastate the North Pole economy, seeing as how Santa’s Workshop was the only economy in the North Pole, save for the reindeer livery.
“Not really,” said Santa, a bit glum. “Everything is pricey these days.”
“But what about quality?” the elf asked. “We cobble the finest toys in all the world—no small parts to swallow, and not one drop of lead paint in anything we make. Surely that must account for something?”
“Evidently, safety is a cost no one wants to pay for anymore,” Santa said. “Look, it’s not just you elves who are being affected. I’ve already let two of my swiftest reindeer go. That’s gonna slow down deliveries. Fortunately, all the foreclosures mean fewer houses to deliver to this year.”
“What’s going to become of us?” the elf asked.
“My advice is for you elves to retrain into other lines of work,” Santa said.
“Other lines of work? What other lines of work? We’re tiny elves. There’s no circus coming to town anymore. And there’s no talk of a ‘Wizard of Oz’ remake.”
“Well, all I can tell you is that I’ve started taking courses in refrigeration,” Santa said.
“What about Christmas?”
“What about it?” Santa asked. “You think anybody who believes in trickle down economics, privatized Social Security and drilling our way out of oil dependency has room left in their thinking for still another myth? Face it, elf, we’re going the way of the dinosaur and the wooly mammoth.”
The elf shook his head sadly. “I remember when those were some of our most popular toys, Santa. Those were good times, sir.”
The elf suddenly had a spectacular thought. “We are the good times,” he said. “We represent the good old days. Let us be that for all the people who still appreciate those simple values.”
Santa brightened. “You know, elf, you’re right. Every day the world loses sight of what those days represented and could represent again. Tell the elves we’re staying put. I’ll get Dasher and Comet back from that tannery. We’re back, baby!”
But Santa had overlooked one detail: Mrs. Claus owned half the Night Before Christmas business. When she learned of his decision, she scolded him. “Santa Claus belongs to the stockholders, not the good old days. And stockholders demand dividends, not Easy-Bake ovens, G.I. Joes or electric football.”
Within days, Mrs. Claus found a buyer for the entire operation in the Arab Emirates. The new owners began funneling Santa’s mail to the Arctic Call Center in Tibet. Santa eventually found employment as a pitchman for Kirstie Alley’s new weight-loss program, while his chief elf achieved fame when he married Britney Spears.
Reid Champagne recalls waking up one Christmas with sugar plum fairies actually dancing on his head.