Friday, December 21, 2012

Poor old Santa

Dear Virginia,

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 a while. 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. Virginia, 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 1950s 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 organised 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. . .  

I didn't write the above, as you will gather from the American references in it. It was written by an American friend of mine, Denny Hartford. I lifted it from his website. You will enjoy reading the rest of it here.

Christmas may not be the same as it used to be. Although I do think people have a little more openness, a little more friendliness, a little more, if you like, of a spirit of goodwill during a couple of days over the holiday. That we ought to try to preserve.

If Christmas isn't the same as it was, I hope that doesn't prevent me wishing all of you a happy Christmas?

Just a brief postscript: I am minded that the Babe of Bethlehem is the one sure hope this world has. May many come to know the reality of that this Christmastide.