How it All Works Now: A Short Christmas Story

{NOTE: This one is from the archives. I wrote this a while back. It’s still one of my favorites, so I post it every other year or so. Please, enjoy, and Happy Whatever You Celebrate}

Once upon a time there was a man who lived in the frozen arctic north.
There was never any real explanation as to why he decided to take his wife and live such a reclusive lifestyle, truly away from the things of man. His wife and the few people in his small non-descript village of origin all agreed that it was a strange move, as he was always a giving man. He loved the people. Around the same time each winter, he would warm the spirits of his village by fashioning toys for the young and necessities for those who had more responsibilities.
It was of his opinion that, by being at the top of the world, he would be able to bring his cold winter joy to the masses. It was also his feeling that the perpetually cold climate would keep the idea of the winter relief in his heart the whole year round.
Being an enterprising person, he took a workforce along with him. Mostly, the people from his original village who grew to share his beliefs. He taught them everything he knew about the various trades he had picked up. He was the sort of jack-of-all-trades but, through practice, his workers became the masters of their own.

Thanks to one of his workers who happened to have an affinity for the ars arcanum of this old world, his sleigh (the nominal mode of conveyance for a snow-covered wasteland) was enchanted to fly. The trick to this magical spell was having enough forward momentum to continuously propel it through the air. Luckily, reindeer were plentiful in areas a bit southerly to his growing encampment.
He started to branch out his operation to bring winter cheer to farther and farther reaches, attempting to visit every small village within his range on one of the coldest days of the year, which then happened to fall on December 25th. It was sheer coincidence that he chose this date. But, he was around long before the Vatican declared this as Jesus’ officially recognized birthday.
He wanted to cover as much ground as possible. Even though he could reach much of the world from his central location, he could not get the entire globe in just one night. It was then that he had other enchanted sleighs created to help him with the work. Having a reputation, he started to train some of the more burly men (being a mountain of one himself) on his usual gift giving procedure. He started to break the world up into regions for these self-made doppelgangers.
Each one, over time, grew their own style, name, and reputation depending on the region. However, nothing beat the original, who still made his own rounds every year.
The idea of gift-giving on what had become more of a religious celebration became so favored, thanks to his influence, that people began giving gifts to each other rather than just waiting for him to arrive. People began to create their own winter cheer and the man couldn’t have been happier. It became the season for giving. So, the man decided to add a bit more mystique to his routine, and only come while people were sleeping. That way, he could give his gifts without being the center of attention. He wanted people to rejoice with their loved ones rather than center everything around his (or one of his lieutenants) inevitable appearance.
After much thought about how to reduce his workload slightly, he decided that adults could buy themselves their own presents and that he would concentrate on pleasing the children. So, his workshop’s efforts were turned fully to construction of toys. They weren’t made by elves, though, that’s just a myth. There’s no such thing as elves. But, there were ancient magics in place that afforded him every other thing of legend. His flight, as previously described, as well as his teleportation and deep, almost bottomless, bag of presents.
Word of how things were going down got around to the public. Legend said that he was but one man by many names, circling the globe in one night, giving presents to all who deserved them. Such a hard working man could certainly use a snack on the road, hence people began leaving milk and cookies out during the night, as well as an occasional carrot for his reindeer. They would need something to fuel their fire if he was to make it all the way.
As the years progressed, the man slowly became known around the world by one name: Santa Claus. His visage was made legend thanks to one very ambitious soft drink company in the early decades of the 20th century. It was around this time that things started to get more difficult.
Mass production was now in full swing. Consumerism kicked into high gear. Kids didn’t want hand-crafted toys anymore. They wanted things that Santa’s workers weren’t familiar with. Things made from plastic and cardboard. Things involving electronics and motorization. It was then that he decided that if consumerism was the only way to please the children, he would have to buy into it.
He sent a few of his more devoted workers off to college to learn marketing techniques and how to track trends. His staff was shifted largely from manufacturing to import/export. The icy village became a business hub with people using phones and later computers enchanted with the ancient magics to buy the toys they would need to meet demand. Santa became less like a foreman of the holiday and more like the CEO of an idea. There was no more working sleigh route for him, as motorized propulsion was now used to get mechanical sleighs bearing his most trusted workers to their given regions for toy delivery. His job was an executive position now.
He had, many years ago, taken advantage of a public creation about the whole naughty-or-nice thing as a way to cut back further on his workload. He didn’t have some kind of crystal ball to do it, though, that would be a waste of the ancient magics. Instead, he set a spy network upon the world which rivals the CIA. They are everywhere and they are watching you to see if you are naughty or nice. This is about the only thing that Santa does at this point. He looks at each questionable case (usually the ones that are up for heaviest debate) and decides whether the child should receive a present. Most of the time, the paperwork was kept off his desk, though. He trusted every one of his workers and still does. They have been with him for hundreds and hundreds of years, thanks to the ancient magics.
So, his marketing department analyzes the trends and figures out what the “it-toy” is going to be this year, they have a presentation involving the big man himself, send the results to the ordering department, and get as many units as they can into the warehouse. This is how, to this day, children get that “hard to find” toy. Sure, their parents sometimes battle it out with other people to get the last one on the shelf and they don’t, yet somehow they still manage to get one under the tree. This is because Santa’s spy network checks warehouse availability and, upon determination of naughty-or-nice, contacts the parents involved for a pick-up. Mostly, they use mall santas (but only the authentic looking ones) as their cheif spies. It’s the best way to find out what specific kids want.
Thing is, Santa doesn’t realize that he sometimes creates the trends and causes more grief for some holiday shoppers. Where do you think all those “it-toys” went? We forgive him, though, because we know that there will be more from the manufacturer soon. Maybe not in time for Christmas, but soon after. And, it’s the thought that counts.

So, every Christmas, Santa still mounts his old-fashioned reindeer-driven sleigh and takes a few laps around the world. When you’re the figurehead of an operation that big, you’ve got to make at least one real appearance.
Remember that he doesn’t help people who don’t believe in him. And, he might have some ancient magics at his disposal, but he can’t give you world peace or any other bullshit gift. That kind of stuff just pisses him off. Ask for something tactile, and chances are he’ll either make one available to someone you know or he’ll get you one himself. He’s not just about kids anymore. Belief is down and, the way the magic works, the fewer people who believe in him, the more of a chance he has of fading away forever.
Keep the big cheese in your hearts this Christmas, kids, and remember he’s got a corporation to run, so you may not see him in person. He may have even had your mom and dad put the presents under the tree for him. After all, gas prices are up, and the motorized sleighs aren’t going to fuel themselves.

—end transmission—

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