Santa Claus circa 2011, a tragedy in rhyming couplets
Welcome to my Christmas hub for 2011. My gift this year is this humble ballad, the story of Santa Claus in these trying times. I hope you enjoy. May you have a wonderful holiday season and a prosperous and happy new year. -- Lynda
Santa Circa 2011 -- Or how times got tough at the North Pole
The dapper man stretched out his wrist, peeked at his Rolex, sighed and leaned back in his leather chair,
Played with his tailored lapels, rubbed his chin, picked his ear, ran his fingers through his gel-spiked hair,
Rolled his eyes to the heavens and back, cleared his throat with a loud “ahem,” moved his lips and spoke.
“Mr. Claus, I don’t know how we can assist. Change career now? This must be some kind of joke.
Rather late in the game, don’t you think? You did state your age at eight hundred and sixty three!
We at Executive Assist can only do so much, you know. I think you must agree
Your advanced years; you’ve attended no school and your resume – I’d have to term it unique.
I would be derelict in my duty if I did not advise you your prospects are quite bleak.
Good day, Mr. Claus.” He nodded toward the door and his polished fingers flipped closed the file.
For the first time he looked the other in the eye and the two sat quiet for a while.
The bearded, haggard man, Santa Claus by name, sat stunned and still, both eyes rapidly blinking.
He breathed in gasps. His face drained white. He clutched his chest and shouted, “No, sir! What are you thinking?
This Christmas thing just can’t go on!” He jumped to his feet and shouted, “High time it ended!
I can’t go on like this. I’m oh, so tired. I’m broke and seriously over-extended.”
Like a balloon with a leak he lost his air, sat down and bowed his head. “I know how this sounds.
I need a job, Mr. Rich, a real job. My pockets are empty. I’ve lost ninety-three pounds!”
He pulled out his waistband one full foot and patted the drooping flesh inside. “Do you see?”
But, Mr. Rich just sat still with an index finger on the button marked “Security.”
“Don’t,” pleaded Claus, collecting his wits and tucking in his shirt. “I’m not deranged.
Don’t you see? It’s not Christmas to blame.” He groaned and swiped at a tear. “It’s the world that has changed.”
“What I see,” said Rich “is this venture worked for centuries and you ran it into the ground.
In three decades, you’ve gone deep into debt. What did you think, that you’d magically rebound?
You borrowed and borrowed without a single thought as to how it would ever be repaid.
Your expenses grew astronomically. Projected income growth was – shall we say delayed?
Your balance sheet is lopsided, all liabilities. Assets? Pray tell, where did they go?
Your business was Christmas, after all. How could you lose? Don’t tell me business was slow.
It’s clear that as a manager, you suck. So, how dare you grovel now, whine, wail and lament,
To say you’re tired, broke and unfed, to throw yourself on my mercy and beg for employment?”
“Please,” whispered Claus, plucking at Mr. Rich’s Armani sleeve. “You must listen. Give me a chance.
There are mitigating factors at play in my plight. I’m but a victim of circumstance.”
“A victim?” sneered Rich. “What are you a man or a worm? Real men are in control of their lives.
Or are you looking for a welfare handout like the rest of the so-called ‘poor and deprived?’”
“I came looking for work,” Claus replied heatedly, getting his dander up. “Not charity.”
“All right,” said Rich. “I’ll hear your tale.” He checked his watch, once again. “I’ll give you to half-past three.”
Santa stroked his neat, newly-trimmed beard, wondering where to begin. “There was a time, long ago
When most people were grateful for the simplest of things, when the children ask me to bestow
A doll, mittens or warm socks, a ball, pencil and paper, a toy train, skates, a spinning top
And each child asked for only one thing. Back then, everything was made by elves in my shop
All to be hand-delivered by me. You know the story, the sleigh, the twelve flying reindeer…
And the folks, poor but generous left us food and we gathered enough to feed us a year.”
“Yes, yes,” interrupted Rich. “They were simpler times, better times. Yada-yada-yada. So?”
“My point being,” Claus said. “It was a trade: food for elf-made goods and a jolly ho-ho-ho.
It was a simple operation with Mrs. Claus and me and a hundred twenty elves.
Who needed capital? Not us.” He smiled a wistful smile. “We were happy then, just ourselves.
As the world grew, so did we. More elves and -- though I hate to admit it -- I hired a double
To help with the distribution and another and another… still, we had no trouble.
Not until the sixties, when the lists of wants and wishes started getting right out of hand,
Each child wanting more and more, exotic things, patented things, things from beyond our North Pole land:
Chatty Cathy dolls, Barbie and her house and car, those Beatle records, Hot Wheels and GI Joes,
And Scrabble games – they’re copyrighted – eight track players and hi-fi sets. You think elves make those?”
“We contracted the designs, bought manufacturing rights, paid royalties and franchise fees,
Production reports audited by CPAs -- do you know what they charge? And attorneys --
Oh, the damn attorneys wouldn’t let me sign a thing without a comprehensive review.
The bills poured in. I mortgaged the shop with a banker’s help, at interest of 6 point 2.
Then one enterprising fellow from Japan -- Yoshi was his name -- said, ‘This is ludicrous!
By the time we train all your elves, re-tool your machines -- such a cost! -- and add in all the rest,
It’s more cost-effective if we make the goods because our workers are remarkably cheap!
With their pension funds, medical plans and union scale, your elf labor costs are too steep.
I assigned half the elves to maintenance and contracted with Kugumori in '79.
Mr. Rich, you understand I did what I had to do for the good of the bottom line.
“As the years went by my problems grew. My elves continued to make those old-style toys,
Tin drums and xylophones; baby dolls and blocks; wooden soldiers with tiny guns, once loved by boys.
The elves built them well which is more than I can say for the factory-made toys from abroad
But no one wanted those things anymore. They wanted the other, no matter how slipshod.
If baby grew ill from a bad paint job, if Bobby ate a piece, if the talking doll for Sue
Stopped talking the first day or Jack sliced his thumb on his fire truck, who did they blame? Me, that's who.
Not the factories. Oh, no. And I faced suit after suit, court costs and plaintiff's legal fees,
So I had to borrow again for the benefit payments owed my idle employees.
Things got so tight I had no choice and listened to the proposition that came from Shanghai
Who said, “We can do it much cheaper for you. Check around; ours is the lowest price.’
“And things got worse. How would you like to see a typical wish list from 2003?
‘Dear Santa, I want a three dimension, high density, fifty-two inch, wide-screen TV,
A new iPod, an Apple tablet with lots of apps, a Blackberry and a brand new Wii
With the virtual mall and a dance routine, and -- I almost forgot -- another Barbie.’
Multiply this by six billion or so; ergo my need for two trillion on loan.
On top of this, my poor faithful elves, with no work and no paychecks started losing their homes.
Stuck in the shelter with nothing to do, they began drinking beer and smoking crystal meth.
I’m ashamed to tell you, one or two of the eldest gave up completely and starved to death.
Now I ask you, what kind of man would I be, if I did nothing for them and let them die?
So, I asked Beijing to loan me a further six billion at a rate of three point five.
“I started a stimulus plan to help my elves: rescue rafts for drowning polar bears.
For great changes had come to our North Pole home where once we had lived free in the frigid air.
Our winter mornings, once so cold, crisp and clear had turned warm and humid and downright foggy
And our buildings sank right up to the windows as the permafrost melted -- soft and soggy.
I wrote to Washington and asked, ‘Can you help us, please? Send in your engineers, that Army Corp.’
‘Don’t be silly,’ they replied. ‘There’s no such thing as climate change. Fool! Don’t listen to Al Gore.’
So I spoke to him, this man Gore, explaining our dire plight, but all he said was ‘I told you so.’
I went to the UN, pleading for help. They're still talking about it as far as I know.
I reminded Canada we were in their domain. The Prime Minister said, ‘What bad luck!’
After two years’ study, they recommended we move to a building in Tuktoyuktuk.
We packed it all up, elves, shop, reindeer and all, at a cost of five million, maybe more,
But my wife said, ’Enough! I want a divorce and enough money to move to Ecuador.’
That was the year one of my Santa doubles took a short cut over Afghanistan
And a flying drone patrolling there sent a report: ‘Intruder possible Taliban.’
They fired a missile and shot him down, sleigh, reindeer and all landing in a big blazing pyre.
Later, I received a telegram: ‘Sorry. Collateral damage caught in friendly fire.”
All the other Santa doubles quit. Under the circumstances, that was no big surprise.
To make matters worse, all the reindeer came down with mad cow and had to be euthanized,
So I asked for bids on delivery fulfillment and subcontracted with UPS.
But that ate up my margin and I had to take yet another loan at high interest.
“Then one fine day those men from Beijing came to call, carrying a large computer report.
They said, ‘Santa, we’re concerned with this debt. It just gets worse and worse,’ and I had no retort.
‘We think,’ they said, most politely, ‘you should make changes here, embark on an austerity plan.
We must insist. Your luxurious life and prolific spending is bringing down our yuan.
Look at these lazy elves. Their welfare payments are three times what we pay our hardest workers.
Why should we continue to foot the bill to support all these useless, pointy-eared shirkers?’
I looked around that dreary warehouse, Mr. Rich, and the strangest thoughts came into my head,
My dead reindeer, my departed wife, and my poor elves sound asleep upstairs, ten to a bed,
How tired and beaten I felt, of the strife and the struggles, all that money spent and for what?
Were we better off than we used to be? Were we happy like this? Most certainly we’re not.
“I looked those industrialists in the eye, swore to myself and said, ‘What a load of crap!
You must think me a fool of the worst kind, and I played the part when I stepped into your trap.
But now I see clearly, and I tell you this, it’s over. I’m done. I have naught left to lose.
Who has gained from this scheme? Me? My elves? Your slave workers? Hell, no! We’ve all been royally screwed.
Are the world’s kids happier? Did we bring them joy? No, only the gifts of avarice and greed.
Sirs, I see it is yourselves who have amassed all the wealth from this Christmas insanity.
Whatever I owe you is a spit in the sea compared to the sales you have made through me,
So, let us call it square. Christmas is yours. Here is the signed deed. Take it and let me go free.’
They were shocked and surprised, speechless at first, then one said, ‘We’ll restructure the loans that are due,
But, this venture is worthless without your trademark. Think, Santa; Christmas is all about you.’
“Did you quit?” Rich asked in an impatient tone, “even though they offered a generous fix?”
“I did,” said his guest. “Earned enough cash to settle my elves by selling the rights to my face.
I bought them a spread in central BC, and they founded an organic communal farm.
It was the least I could do considering… Well, I never intended to do them harm.”
His voice dwindled off and his face sagged in pain as he remembered the elves’ miserable past,
But he recovered himself and straightened up. “Mr. Rich, there’s a question you haven’t asked.”
Rich ostentatiously checked his Rolex and shifted in his chair. “It’s now fifteen to four.
I’ve given a quarter hour more time than I promised. I don’t think I can give you much more,
But if you can make it quick, I’ll give it some thought. What is this query I missed?” he replied.
Santa leaned forward, hard purpose in his eye. “You asked what I did, but you forgot to ask why.”
“Perhaps, I don’t care.” Rich played with his tie. “You’re a loser, Santa. That’s clear from your tale of woe.
Incompetent to say the least. You had it all and you lost it. That’s all I need to know.
But if it will get you out of here and on your way, I’ll ask. Enlighten me. Tell me why.”
“They were wrong when they said Christmas was all about me. The whole venture was based on a lie.”
Santa hit the desk with his fist and yelled, “Has the world forgotten how Christmas was begun
With a promise of peace on earth, good will to man, and saving grace with the birth of the One?”
“Oh, that,” sneered Rich, “maybe good on a greeting card, but what does it do for the GNP?
Listen old man, today it’s commerce makes the world go round and nothing in life is free.
Good will to man? Puh-lease. Just give him a credit card. He’ll run it up at Christmas and then,
You’ve got him. He’s your slave. You old fool, that was really the whole point of the Christmas game.”
“Fool? Yes, but not so blind as you. I can’t decide if you’re a devil or merely a stooge.
You remind me of an old friend of mine - maybe you’ve heard of him, went by the name of Scrooge.”
Santa rose, gathering the last of his pride. “You want me gone and I’m happy to oblige.
It’s clear you can’t help me and I must be on my way. Please direct me to the nearest bridge?
I’ve not eaten in three weeks and I owe a lot of cash – two trillion to be precise.
As you say I’ve no chance of work, I see bankruptcy and suicide as my only choice.
Good by, Mr. Rich and thank you for your time. I sincerely hope one day you’ll see the light."
He walked to the door on trembling legs and turned to say”Merry Christmas all the same. Good night.”
Rich turned to his computer screen and checked the market’s close. His stocks were up. He murmured, “Sweet.”
Filled with thoughts of his mother’s turkey dinner tomorrow, he went down and into the street.
Today Christmas is in the hands of a giant conglomerate, thanks to bail out funds from TARP.
The CEO, Mr. Huang Lee, a Wharton MBA has executive skills honed sharp.
He put the deal into turnaround with an experienced team, took an office in Shanghai,
And was pleased to report that by his second year, S & P rated Christmas very high.
Mr. Rich did not fare so well, killed by a speeding cab and a driver from Pakistan.
He went to Hell, but he’s all right, accepting his well-earned fate and doing the best he can.
He sits on a long bench with a bunch of good-old-boy pals who used to work at Goldman Sachs
And they love to swap stories about the Wall Street days while waiting their turn upon the racks.
Rich tells them all about that day when poor Mr. Santa Claus came to him begging for work.
They laugh -- a rare sound down there -- punch each others shoulders and agree. “What a stupid old jerk!”
As for Santa Claus, true to his word, he went looking for that bridge with full intent of death.
As he was about to jump he turned his face skyward to say “I’m sorry” with his last breath.
“For what?” said a voice so strong, so sweet, so kind, so full of love, it could only be the One.
Santa jumped back, peered left and right, saw no one there but answered all the same. “For what I’ve done.”
“What was that?” asked the One in such a tone of compassion that poor Santa hung his head.
“I stole your day. I don’t know how, but I did. Trees, red suits, greed, gluttony, debt – pah!,” he said.
“You didn’t do that,” the One replied. “Those damn money changers did, using your name for gold.
It hurts when the good you meant for the world is used for wicked things – believe me, I should know.
You wanted to bring joy to the world; so did I. You are good. I can see into your heart.
Go forth and tell them what you’ve learned.” The One sighed. “It will be hard. They are not very smart.”
Santa applied for and received a government loan, went to school -- chose the seminary.
And now he preaches the truth at the First Baptist Church in the center of Tallahassee.
He’s still poor, ‘tis true, but not destitute. Those student loans are a heavy burden, you see.
He figures the debt (including interest) will be cleared by the start of next century.
Happy, healthy, fit and trim after five years at Weight Watchers, his new life is austere.
He’s a vegan these days. He can’t abide the thought of meat remembering those sick reindeer.
He teaches his flock to live for the spirit, to share and eschew this cult of acquisition
Fox News calls him “far left” and a communist; they said he should come under inquisition.
Bill O’Reilly offered to do just that, asked Kris Klaus (the name he now uses) to debate
But was taken aback when Klaus said, "Bill, don't be their pawn. See the light before it's too late.”
December 5, 2011 -- Lynda M Martin
Christmas hubs past
- Santa Claus Inc -- an outsource story
From Christmas 2010 -- With 6.8 billion people in the world, 2.4 billion of them children, Santa (Nick Claus) simply had to make changes. Clara Claus, his wife and CEO walks us through the world of Santa Claus Inc -- a short video
- A politically correct greeting and wishes for this holiday season
From Christmas 2009 -- A politically correct -- very politically correct! -- greeting.