(This post originally appeared here at Christmastime 2012. But it wears well.)
Because you have been such a loyal friend of Christmas, I wanted to write a personal letter to try and explain the sad news I’ll be announcing at a press conference tomorrow. Virginia, I’m retiring. I’ve already deleted my database, put the sleigh up on Craig’s List, and changed forever into civilian clothes. Mrs. Claus and I have sublet our cottage here to a Russian drilling crew (they insist they own the North Pole anyway) and we’ve sold the workshops to a Chinese toy manufacturer. For ourselves, we’ll be moving to Malta, at least for awhile. There are at least some remains of civilization on that island; the health care system is top notch; and the climate may well help my arthritis.
Virginia, I know this may seem like an abrupt and drastic move but, trust me, I really had no other choice. I’m deeply saddened to think of the heartbreak the cancellation of Christmas will bring to good-hearted supporters like you. Yet I also believe that the true friends of Christmas will sympathize with my plight. I have, of course, been grieved and frustrated over the increasing commercialization of the holiday. That’s been going on for decades. But the demands from the children of the last couple of generations have driven me over the edge. You and I both can remember when you were thrilled and very grateful to receive a doll, a Laura Ingalls Wilder book, and some candy. Your brother felt the same way that Christmas when I left him a football, some Lincoln Logs, and a couple of oranges. But now children are absolutely insatiable. You simply cannot give them enough. And even a magic bag isn’t without a bottom.
And then there are the kinds of presents they crave! There’s no way I can leave them the horrid things they ask of me. Little girl dolls dressed in sexually suggestive outfits. Grotesque and gory video games. Rap music which glorifies savagery against women. Movies full of blasphemy and brutish violence. There’s no way I could give an impressionable child such nasty, noxious things. And as a result, I’ve lost a big chunk of my market share. Back in the 1950’s baby boom, I really had to hustle to keep up with demand. But, in recent years, my trip takes a quarter of the time because I have so few children who want the presents I have to give. To keep from laying off the elves, I’ve kept production high but we have completely run out of storage space. Our overstock of board games, baby dolls, puzzles, fire engines, books – I could go on and on – is crushing us.
But the present crisis, Virginia, has arisen from still other matters -- key among them being a vociferous committee of elves which started with grumbling, then moved on to organized protests, and ended up by forming unions connected, respectively, with the AFL, the SEIU, and the Teamsters. The subsequent demands from union leaders are not only irrational, they are downright immoral. For instance, I refuse to allow, under my name, the manufacture of gifts which I believe to be decadent and culturally destructive. Nor will I provide health coverage plans that would cause me to violate my religious convictions. Virginia, I shudder to think of the hard-working elves who have been loyal to the spirit of Christmas having to sign up for unemployment but the troublemakers have left me no other option. So, alas, I am shutting down Christmas altogether.
The fun, the festivity, and the faith is gone. Even if I could somehow solve the market share problem and the labor problem (big ifs, indeed), there are plenty of other matters also pressing hard against Christmas. You know about some of these, Virginia, like the movements of secularism, paganism, and consumerism that insist traditional Christmas give way to Holiday Break, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, Black Friday, and so on. But you probably haven’t heard about the harassment coming at me from those who claim (without genuine scientific evidence, I might add) that the pixie dust that I’ve used for centuries has dangerously depleted the ozone layer. And there’s the increasing clamor of animal rights groups who argue that the pace required to travel the whole world on Christmas Eve constitutes reindeer abuse.
And, Virginia, unless you noticed it on Drudge, you also wouldn’t know about the post-election Executive Order from the White House. It insists that American children receive X amount of presents regardless of whether they’ve been naughty or nice. Reads the order, “An equitable redistribution of wealth cannot be achieved if the recipients are to be judged by merit, initiative, or moral character. A just society is an entitled society.”
Yet that wasn’t the only change that the White House order contained – not by a longshot. I was informed (in no uncertain terms) that were I to persist in gifting American children there were several other requirements. I had to slim down. I had to decry the practice of children leaving me and the reindeer cookies or anything else that wasn’t within the First Lady’s dietary guidelines. I had to stop smoking. To help out the atrociously inept Post Office, I had to agree to a subcontract which would cede to them 1/3 of my U.S. deliveries. Furthermore, I had to yield authority of all North Pole operations to OSHA, EPA, NRLB, HIPA, IRS, the UN, and other alphabet agencies to be named later.
And, one more thing, I had to change the color of my red suit to blue.
So you see how things stand, Virginia. Post-modern forces have long made it extremely difficult to practice Christmas in its traditional, warm-hearted ways. But those forces no longer constitute influential pressure alone, they have now become intolerant to the point of coercion. Christmas has been a wonderful blessing to the world but the powers that be are now forcing it to become the antithesis of what it was. I cannot be a part of that evil evolution. So, yes, Virginia, there still is a Santa Claus. But Christmas…Well, Christmas itself has passed away.