A Message from Claus Inc.


Ho ho ho! Santa Claus here, just checking in from headquarters at the North Pole to let you know about some changes we’re making. This recession has hit us all a little hard, and like everyone else, we’ve had to adjust. But don’t worry! I’ll still be bringing presents to all the good little boys and girls on Christmas Eve, just as I’ve done every year since Clement Clarke Moore created me in 1823! I’m still a right jolly old elf! We’re just making some minor changes.

First of all, I will now be 25% less jolly. Being jolly requires energy, which requires calories, which requires food, which, frankly, we’re a little short on lately.

On a somewhat related note, I regret to announce that Blitzen is no longer with the team.

Now, my accountants tell me that part of the reason Claus Inc. is hurting right now is that as it turns out, I have no discernible source of income. Man alive, I don’t know how I overlooked that. Seems obvious, doesn’t it? Sure, in hindsight. But when we first set up shop here at the North Pole, we were able to get by on nothing more than children’s wishes, Christmastime magic, visions of sugarplums, and food stamps. That system won’t cut it anymore, though, so we have to adjust a few things.

Effectively immediately, I will no longer be delivering presents to non-Christian children. A lot of atheists, agnostics, and non-observant Jews have been suckin’ on old Santa’s teat for a long time, and I’ve let it slide. But I can’t afford it anymore. From now on, if you don’t actually believe in some significant portion of the original Christmas story, I’m not coming to your house. I’m not saying you need to go to church every Sunday. I’m just saying no more of this generic “celebrate the spirit of giving” crap.

And don’t even get me started on “Chrismukkah.” Pick a side, folks! Ho ho ho!

Traditionally, I’ve punished naughty children by leaving lumps of coal in their stockings — which is pretty ridiculous, considering what it costs to heat my cottage these days. I might as well be leaving them lumps of gold! Starting this year, naughty children don’t get squat, not even joke gifts, not even socks. And we’re broadening the definition of “naughty,” too. Let’s be honest, a lot of you little bastards have been slipping through the cracks. You’ll be monsters all year long, then suddenly act sweet starting around Thanksgiving, and so I’ll cave in and bring you something. Uh-uh. That’s not gonna cut it anymore. No more of this deathbed repentance.

I’m talking to you, Jayden Rasmussen, age 6, in Sacramento! You may have temporarily suspended your reign of terror as the neighborhood’s most foul-mouthed brat, but I’m not falling for it. You might as well give up the charade and go back to being a bully, because Santa is not coming to your house this year. Start behaving now, and see if you can last until next Christmas, and then we’ll talk.

And you, Molly McIntyre, age 8, of Tampa? Becoming a mean girl already? A little young, aren’t you? I’ve seen the way you talk behind the other girls’ backs in school. I don’t care how many good deeds you pretend to do for your mother this month — I know you’re only doing it to get on my good side. And I don’t have a good side anymore. I can’t afford it.

We’ve streamlined things back at the workshop, too. Had to let a few elves go. It was awfully sad. You know how my belly shakes when I laugh, like a bowlful of jelly? Well, it shakes like that when I cry, too. A lot of those elves had been with us since the company was founded, but we had no choice. Had to lay them off. It’s made things a little awkward, since we had to evict them from employee housing, too, and they don’t have anyplace else to go. It’s not like you can just take a bus from the North Pole down to Toronto and get a job at Starbucks. So there are all these homeless, unemployed elves hanging around Santa’s Village, living on the picturesque cobblestone streets, begging for spare change, spending everything they get on eggnog, getting into brawls, abusing the reindeer. It’s very sad.

I’m also scaling back on the types of presents I can deliver. Do you have any idea how hard it is to make an Xbox? In the old days, we’d make toy trains and dolls and Lincoln logs, and the kids were happy with that. But now I gotta bring in consultants every year to re-train the elves on how to build these crazy new toys with microchips and megabytes and whatnot, and it costs me an arm and a leg. No more of that. From now on, if my elves can’t build it with cobbler’s tools, you can’t have it for Christmas. So take your wish list and cross off anything that starts with a lowercase “i.”

Finally, I know this won’t go over well, and I’m hesitant to even bring it up, but I feel I don’t have any other choice. You know how you tend to leave out milk and cookies for old Saint Nick to munch on when he comes to visit? Well, would it kill you to leave out a few dollars instead? It’s not that I don’t appreciate the cookies, because surely I do! It’s a lovely gesture. But at every single house? I may be chubby, and I may laugh a lot, but I’m not a stoner. I don’t need to eat 10 million cookies in one night. And what I DO need is to pay for the elves’ healthcare plan.

Look, everyone in the industry is making cutbacks. The Easter Bunny is laying all the eggs himself this year — and believe me, that’s not gonna be pretty. Jack Frost was already downsized due to global warming. And the Tooth Fairy has had to reduce her payout amount by 30%. A lot of kids have started hanging on to their teeth as an investment, hoping to cash them in when prices go back up. That’s smart. It’s good that children are thinking about the future. I wish I had! Ho ho ho!

[ Though it did cross my mind for Santa to ask Congress for a bailout, I quickly rejected it as obvious and unfunny. Jokes along those lines became overused several weeks ago. I knew they’d really been beaten to death when I started seeing them in the newspaper comic strips — kids with lemonade stands saying they need a bailout, etc. When the comic strips get around to making jokes about a current event, you know it must really be played out. ]