An Entry in Santa’s Diary

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Whatta year it’s been. It seems like I no sooner finished making my ’01 deliveries when it’s time to make up my list for ’02.

Lemme tell you I’ve had some rough rides this decade. You think Christmas Eve ’94 over Sarajevo was a candy-, cane sleigh ride? It brought back to mind the perilous days of World War II. You shoulda been with me over London – Christmas Eve’4l.

Yeah, like I say, this year has been a mess. I shoulda known I was in trouble when Mrs. Claus got a job offer from the FedEx folks – VP of Polar Operations, they offered her. And to sweeten the kitty, they threw in Northwest Canadian Operations, too. Guess what they were after? Not her nimble mind, but the packaging, distributing, and networking secrets of our operation. We’ve been in business almost 200 years, you know. And I figured out that hub secret in the late 1890s. You think it’s easy to deliver a billion gifts in one night? Then eat a billion cookies, and drink a billion egg nogs without crashing into a ‘roof top?

Sure, they made a mouth-watering offer to Mrs. Claus. Pay and fringes that made me and

my non-profit operation look like small potatoes. But Ma~a turned them down. After all, she’d signed a non-disclosure and non-competitive agreement with me a hundred years ago. I’d have taken them to court faster than they could get a package from Memphis to New York. And can you picture a judge or jury finding against Santa Claus? Ho, ho, ho. That ended that.

But Mama wasn’t the only trouble. Those animal-activist people came up in April. Worried

about the reindeer, you know. Were the pens big enough? Were they getting a balanced diet? Stuff like that. The workload worried them, too. I mean there’s a billion Christian kids in the world and there’s only a 4-5 hour delivery window on Christmas Eve. By what “cruel and oppressive” technique did we drive those gentle reindeer – none of whom had work permits? They didn’t seem concerned about a pudgy senior citizen who lowered himself down a billion chimneys in the same time period. I tried to explain that there was a miraculous side to the business involving a special holiday time warp decreed by the boss. Kinda like the way he bends time in space. But I’m not sure they understood. “See ya in court,” was their final statement.

“Merry Christmas,” I shouted back. I just can’t believe Donner and Blitzen would testify against me. No sooner had I waved goodbye to my litigious visitors when the FDA, OSHA, and FAA folks showed up. All carrying briefcases bulging with enough regulations to choke a paper shredder – but not one copy of Dicken’s Christmas Carol. They had blizzards of questions. What was the age of the reindeer fleet? Were there any illegal immigrants among the elves? If a kid ate a leg off one of my dolls, would she suffer from indigestion? There was also a lady from the Justice Department with a cherry-red nose who was worried about tasteless jokes about Rudolph’s cherry-red nose.

But the climax to their investigation came when they asked to see our payroll records. “Well, there’re no payroll records,” I explained, “because nobody gets paid.”

The Department of Labor guy made a spastic motion like Blitzen had jabbed him in his hindquarters. “That’s against the law,” he said. “You’re the worst violator on record of minimum wage legislation!” Then they all started jabbering about non-profit corporations, Chapter S partnerships, and Small Disadvantaged Business (the elves, you know). “We’ll see you in court,” they chorused as they filed into their government 747.

“Ho, ho, ho,” I shouted.

Me and Mama went back to the workshop. After all, I’m only a simple manufacturer and distributor of toys. And I don’t have a legal staff. Maybe next year we’ll skip the whole delivery thing and attend one of those government seminars where they teach you compliance techniques.

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