SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK
Santa Claus had a ritual, one he followed every year after he finished delivering gifts for all little boys and girls. It involved whiskey.
His main elf assistant, Evergreen Iciclepears, poured him two fingers, and started to walk away with the bottle. Santa snapped his fingers. “Keep ‘em coming, Iciclepears. I just delivered 1.6 billion presents.”
(Evergreen Iciclepears’ real name was Charles Anders. But Mrs. Claus, who was always sound asleep when Santa got home from his big business trip, had renamed all the elves to make them sound more festive. The Elves accepted this because North Pole work paid well and had great benefits – including dental – but privately they called her Cranberry Cuddlecane.)
Alcohol was not all of Santa’s routine, of course. After the reindeer were taken care of he went straight to his big easy chair, pulled off his boots, and stuck his aching tootsies in a tub of hot Epsom salt water.
Then he took three ibuprofen, which he always found waiting for him on a tray full of other items, brought by Nutmeg Sugarlights and placed right by his chair. (Her real name was Josephine Hendrickson.)
The other stuff including soothing eye drops, because even with the sleigh’s windshield that screaming wind tended to dry his eyes out. Then there was a cough drop, for similar reasons, and some antacid, because in the space of twenty-four hours he’d eaten approximately 450,000,000 pieces of candy and cookies.
Once he was settled, Forest Tinselstockings came in with the anti-static brush. (His name actually was Forrest – Forrest Gump, no relation. Since that Tom Hanks movie came out he kind of liked his new name.)
You see, Santa delivers all those presents by means of a space-time wormhole tesseract, a device given to him in 1032. At the time Santa, using his magical reindeer, could easily get around and deliver gifts to all the good children. Just the same, a strange man arrived at Santa’s home in the Forest of Burzee – literally inside his home, materializing in a small blue box and calling himself The Doctor.
The Doctor informed Santa that he’d someday need some time saving devices, and gave him a Bag of Holding (which proved to be bigger on the inside) as well as the tesseract. All he asked for in return was for Santa to make him a power tool he could use to open doors and make routine physics calculations with, but that would still fit in his pocket. The Doctor took his new screwdriver and went on his way.
Within a few decades Santa realized he’d need those items. First of all, he just didn’t have the heart to give toys only to good kids, despite the protests of his Chief Naughty Judge, Toadstool Chocolatecake. Now out of a job, Toadstool moved south to England, where he fell upon hard times and took a servant job after changing back to his original name, Dobby.
Second, Santa could not predict the ability of the human race to … shall we say, expand. He originally served a population of a 250,000,000, which seems like a lot until you subtract adults and then divide by bad kids. The Viking kids almost never got presents, but up north they appreciated the coal.
So Santa used the devices, and as a result Forest – Forest Tinselstockins – had to use the anti-static brush every December 26th. It not only helped static, it also removed tachyon particles that became attached to Santa’s wool clothing and beard during the trip. If not for that treatment, at random intervals Santa would find himself flung to a very hot planet circling the star 40 Eridani A, where absolutely no one believed in Santa and his jolly nature was seen as quite illogical. Getting back to Earth was a pain.
My point is that Christmas was a very stressful time for Santa Claus, even more stressful than for anyone else. At least Santa had a team led by the trusted Merry Toffeebaubles to get the lights untangled and strung up. (Merry’s real name is Mary; she considers herself lucky, especially since her last name used to be Weirenkawoski.)
So he had his Jack Daniels, his over the counter meds, his foot bath, and his combing. He’d relax with a couple of glasses of the good stuff while listening to gentle, soothing songs sung by Blueberry Embercane (previously known as Elvis). Planning for next Christmas started on December 27th, so the relaxation time was very important.
Later he’d be checked over by Dr. Gingercane, who had a degree, maybe ironically, from The University of Hawaii. Santa always had various scratches, bruises, and the occasional burn, and dog bites weren’t out of the question. He hadn’t been seriously injured since Saddam Hussein tried to shoot him down in 1989, and that was just a little shrapnel.
“Merry Christmas, Santa!” said Evergreen Iciclepears after Santa had, shall we say, warmed up a bit. “Preliminary indications are that it went very well this year.”
“Well, I got back with all the reindeer,” Santa replied. “So yes – Merry Christmas, indeed. Is breakfast almost ready?”
“Oh, absolutely. Partridge Emberwine is cooking up all your favorites. So, do you have any New Year’s resolutions?”
Santa paused to think. “Well, back in 1914 I resolved not to give gifts to bad kids anymore, but I just couldn’t stick with it. In 1964 I resolved to lose weight, but the wife wouldn’t allow it. ‘The kids expect a fat Santa!’ she kept saying. Who could foresee this health craze? Now she wants me to get a Wii Fit.”
Leaning back, he sighed. “I guess I’ll just resolve to keep going … and maybe, someday, if they come to understand giving enough, more of the bad kids will become good kids.
“Now, let’s get to that breakfast – I’ve got my early massage scheduled.”