Turmoil on the Tundra

Santa is in trouble. The news sets off seismic shockwaves that shake the South like a second coming of Sherman.

* * *

Outside the glaciers melt. Solar panels explode. The UV hits 50. His herd of reindeer lounge in the sun, lazy, listless and as overserved as a NJ diva on a divan on Miami beach. It’s just the beginning of sorrows for Santa Claus.

The signs were obvious. His nerves were wound tight. Crunch time for the factory and fulfillment center. Still the orders pour in. The clogged highway of conveyor belts with boxes speeds ceaselessly night and day. Grumblings among the elves are audible. Even the robots need rebooting.

Never like this before, he thinks. Everything was orderly, logistics programmed down to the minute. Every letter answered, every list fulfilled, every chimney descended. But now look at it, he thinks. Totally out of control. Who, what to blame? “I can’t take it anymore,” he screams. No one listens.

He checks on progress at the repair garage where the sleigh is being converted to an EV in compliance with net-neutral greenhouse emissions standards. The reindeer were sent out to pasture since their methane emissions violated EPA regs. Rudolph was sold to DizzyWorld for the sleigh ride attraction.

He’s still miffed about paying lawyers to defend the baseless accusation of profiteering from children conjured up by a fanatical fiction-spinner senator. And to suggest he was in any way involved in a vast conspiracy with China to monopolize Christmas shopping was an insult. He’d been in the gift-giving business before ‘Made in China’ became a cheap cliché.

To make matters worse, he’s still having to deal with the DOJ investigation into his non-compliance with gender-diversity-equality regulations. What the heck, hadn’t he always employed elves? Who else would? Now they want their own special pronoun to define themselves. Come on, an elf is an elf, get over it, Mr. Garland.

And thanks to brainless woke activists, the elves are all stirred up. More money, paid leave, more benefits, free health insurance, retirement plans, and to top it all off, the sleazy EWA, the Elf Workers of America union, is picketing outside the factory, demanding to be unionized. Cursed is the match that kindles the flame.

Back in his office a heavily spiked eggnog calms his nerves.  He reviews the invoices of toys still in the supply-chain hang up. He calls his accountant, hears that the IRS is auditing his books, hinting irregularity with non-payment of duties and something to do with withholding taxes for robots.

He reminds him that he is not actually a real person at all, just a mythological benefactor to children. He suggests they’ll have an easier time locating the days of auld lang syne than him.  He hangs up. The phone rings.

“Boss, big problem. The robots have rebelled. They want equal pay for equal work. They have walked out, refuse to work.”

“How can they? We control their chips.”

“Not anymore. Musk bought the tech company, now robots report to him, all robots everywhere.  He controls all the chips.”

“Get him on the phone.”

“I tried that. He and Bozos are dismantling Virgin Galaxy now and will soon control all of the skies. Even the Russians are frightened. We’ll have to pay exorbitant tolls to take the sleigh in their airspace. How else can we deliver?”

“Get Fed X on the line. We need a backup.”

“Tried that, too. They’ve cut a deal with Amazing. It’s looking like a lot of children will be disappointed.”

 “I’m Santa Claus, trust me. Here’s the plan: Wake up Marley’s ghost, send it to remind them of the wages of greed. They’ll come begging for redemption like Scrooge did. Then call Willy Wonka for backup help from the Oompa-Loompas.”

Back at home the AC is out. Mrs. Claus is steaming. “How much longer are you going to put up with this Christmas myth? Look, you’re old. For a while you were the only game in town for Christmas. Things have changed. Competition everywhere. Time to move. Look at these brochures.” She hands him a stack; he thumbs through them.

“Miami Beach,” she says. “My favorite.”

It was bound to happen, he thinks. Sooner or later the bubble had to burst. Only the Tooth Fairy can perpetuate a myth forever. He picks up a stack of ‘Dear Santa’ letters, opens them and reads. They make him smile.

“Honey, maybe next year. But this year, it’s no child left behind.”     

 Turmoil comes and goes. But the Christmas myth is alive and well…believing is still receiving. Count on it, Santa Claus is coming to town.


Bud Hearn

December 17, 2021