It is well past breakfast time. Santa is still in bed. The bearded guy with a big belly and an appetite to match is usually up by dawn for his first meal of the day.
A worried Mrs Claus peeps into the bedroom to check on him.
“Claus-y, are you still asleep?” she asks as she barges in. “Wakey-wakey. Christmas is not far off.”
“Ye-es I’m up,” Santa replies. “Haven’t slept a wink. Worried sick about how I’m going to make this year’s trip safely.”
Planning his flight path is becoming more of a nightmare each year, with long-running wars ravaging the Middle East since the early nineties. Just as the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic seemed to be coming to an end, war broke out in the Ukraine. The latest in Israel-Gaza has made it even more perilous to travel over conflict-ridden zones to India before heading to Australia.
“Taking detours to avoid flashpoints is forcing Rudolph and his reindeers to have early starts, and the extra flight time is sapping their energy,” Santa laments.
“I understand,” Mrs Claus replies in sympathy. “But even during the two World Wars, with all of Europe so bleak, you never failed to go on your annual mission to make the children happy.”
This is Santa’s busiest time of year. His to-do list is almost as long as his naughty and nice lists. There are toys to craft, supply chain logistics to maintain, carbon emission levels to study, and an army of elves to roster. Plus this year, with cost-of-living pressures, penalty rates and demand for higher wages to negotiate.
Not to mention, it’s getting more and more challenging to monitor the endless requests from the little ones around the world. Gone are the days when kids took recourse to their trusty postal service to deliver handwritten letters to the North Pole.
“It’s hard to keep up,” Santa complains. “I’m receiving messages via email, SMS, WhatsApp, Messenger, and DMs on all manner of social media platforms, even X-rated ones.”
“No, that’s just X,” Mrs Claus educates her husband.
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The elves are also reporting a declining standard of spelling and an aversion to writing full sentences. The impact of technology… U C what I mean? LOL.
“And also,” Santa says to Mrs Claus. “Talking about the kiddos, it’s breaking my heart to see so many of them losing their lives in these senseless conflicts created by grown-ups with no tolerance for each others’ faiths. It’s supposed to be a time of goodwill! I don’t even know what to give them.”
“Have you tried Googling for ideas?” Mrs Claus says helpfully.
“I have,” Santa replies, even sadder. “Retailers’ shelves come up – stacked with plastic replicas of AK47s, water pistols, and the like. I’m scraping the barrel here for ideas!”
Mrs Claus strokes his arm. “Claus-y, when it comes to making children happy, you’re a class act. I’m sure you’ll think up something extra special this time.”
“Got it!” Santa exclaims, jumping out of bed. “Miniature Cricket World Cup trophies for every kid in India, to make up for a national loss!”
Mrs Claus claps her hands in glee. “Wonderful, Claus-y! Turn them into hats, so it goes straight to their heads… and, er, not under the feet. And what about Aussie kids?”
“A mini bat each!” Santa’s on a roll. “Because their two batters MAXImised their chance at the semi-final, and helped to get aHEAD in the end!”
“My captain!” gushes Mrs Claus as they dash downstairs to get the team started.