2007-12-13 / Sam Bari

You can't beat a system you can't understand

The ubiquitous Mr. Claus
By Sam Bari

When I was a kid, life was simple. You wrote a letter to Santa, filled it with lies about how good you had been for the past year, and truths about all the cool stuff he should bring you for Christmas because of your alleged goodness. Yes, I said "Christmas" because I don't care about anything political, correct or not. If Christmas offends you, go read the comics.

Anyway, then you put the letter containing the ridiculously long list of things you felt you deserved in an envelope, addressed it to Santa Claus, C/O the North Pole, stuck a 5-cent stamp on it, dropped it in the mailbox and hoped for the best.

If any of the stuff you asked for arrived on Christmas morning, you breathed a sigh of relief. "Whew! Fooled the big guy again," I used to say. That was back when life was good. Obviously, times have changed.

Back then, you asked for things like bicycles, trains, wagons and ice skates. You did not ask for Mitsubishi plasma TVs, Sony Play Stations or Microsoft X-Boxes. They hadn't been invented yet.

Kids didn't care about brand names. As far as we were concerned, Santa made toys all year, jumped in his sleigh on Christmas Eve and delivered them to children all over the world - end of story.

Sure, we asked a few questions now and again to clear up a little skepticism concerning the Santa Claus phenomenon, but it was no big deal.

We asked questions like: How can Santa make enough toys for kids all over the world in one year?

The answer was simple and obvious: Santa had elves who helped him in his giant toy manufacturing plant at the North Pole where he didn't have to worry about labor laws, benefits, or workers' compensation.

Today, the questions are much harder, more complex, and some require intensive research in order to be accurate. At least that's what you probably tell your kids. Since this pressing problem of baffling questions about Santa is causing enormous difficulty for many concerned readers, our crack research team, the Googlamaniacs, have compiled a little guide to help you out with the weirder questions.

From concerned reader Elvin Murdoch, of Lake Tulahula, N.D.

Q: My kid wants to know where Santa is going to live after the North Pole melts due to global warming. He also wants to know what's going to happen to his toy shop.

Googlamaniac A: Santa hasn't lived at the North Pole for years. He lives in a condo on a Florida beach. He has outsourced all manufacturing to industrialized Third World countries as well as Japan, Taiwan, and China, where labor and materials are cheap and plentiful. Tell him not to worry about a thing. Santa's got all bases covered.

From concerned reader Fran Turkle, of Humbolt Flats, Okla.

Q: My son wants to know if Santa has a distribution agreement with Sony, and if he does, what do they pay him for his endorsement?

Googlamaniac A: "Yes" to part one and "Big Bucks" to part two.

From concerned reader Elmo Felsenhoop, of East Gravelswitch, Arkansas.

Q: What's with Santa Claus anyway? Why can't he be like the Easter Bunny and the Great Pumpkin? Nobody ever sees them. I've never seen anybody dress up to be the great pumpkin, and the only likenesses you see of the Easter Bunny are in stuffed toys and on greeting cards. I can't turn around without running into somebody dressed like Santa. No wonder kids have a hard time believing.

Googlamaniac A: Are you tryin' to tell us that a rabbit living in a hole in a place called Wonderland is more credible than the fat guy? Get a life.

From concerned reader Irma Twittle, of Farnsworth, Iowa, who has a similar concern.

Q: Santa has three different websites. A company called Imaginary Greetings, Inc., in a town named Santa Claus, Indiana, manages one of them. The old guy is everywhere. What are we supposed to tell our kids? They see him on the Internet and on television at the same time. Then they go to a department store and he's there, too.

A: Obviously, Santa Claus has a better publicist than the rabbit or the pumpkin. As you said, he's ubiquitous.

That pretty much does it. We can always depend on the Googlamaniacs to slave for nanoseconds to answer the hard questions. Now they need lunch and the afternoon off. They're exhausted. It isn't easy bearing the burdens of a system we can't understand.

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