Troubles in Toyland

The Santas we see on corners and in department stores are apocryphal. Many are quite up front about their imposter status, claiming that they are "Santa's Helpers" or "visitors from the North Pole." But others--especially those that sit in department stores and terrorize small children--insist that they are the real St. Nick, and everyone knows that there's only one of him.

In order to prove this point, I recently journeyed to the North Pole to conduct an exclusive interview with the one and only real Santa Claus. Upon arriving in the arctic wasteland, I quickly spotted a candy-striped house with a wisp of smoke rising from the chimney. Trudging toward it through the ice and snow, I heard a chorus of high-pitched angry voices. As I approached the source of this racket, I discerned a circle of tiny persons, marching determinedly while chanting, "Elfin power, elfin power!" I crossed the picket line and was assailed with snowballs.

I finally reached the door of Santa's house, knocked and heard a faint, "I'll get it. Ho, ho, ho." Soon a portly gentleman dressed in a typical red Santa suit opened the door.

"Hello, sir," I said. "I'd like to interview you."

"Well, come in, come in," he beckoned. The room we entered was filled with partially assembled toys and unwrapped packages.


"So you're here to interview me. Well, sit down," chuckled Santa as he patted his leg. I took out my notebook and pencil and sat on his knee. "Go ahead with your questions, son. Ho, ho, ho."

I felt compelled to whisper in his ear. "What's going on outside?" I asked.

"Why it's snowing. Ho, ho, ho!" roared Santa. Then he added, "Just a little North Pole humor, son."

"Why are those people picketing?"

Santa's demeanor changed. "Well, my boy," he pouted, "the elves are on strike because I won't give in to their demands."

"What do they want?"

"They say they're tired of wearing little elf suits and funny hats. I say the outfits add atmosphere to this awful, boring place. They also want to be called 'recreational engineers.' Where's the charm in that? And they don't want to work on holidays. Do they think I enjoy flying around on Christmas Eve?"

"Is there any hope of a settlement before Christmas?" I asked.

"No. They won't even listen to me anymore," Santa moaned. "They say I talk down to them."

"How are you going to get the toys ready on time?"