Over Easy: Capitalism, Santa-style

  • Dan Mackie (Courtesy photograph)

For the Valley News
Published: 12/13/2019 5:36:24 PM
Modified: 12/13/2019 5:36:11 PM

After a Black Friday haul of over $7 billion for U.S. retailers, the question at the top of everyone’s mind is, of course, how is Santa going to top that?

Here at the West Lebanon Institute for Santa Studies, our top analysts are analyzing — because that’s what they do — the changing role of Santa in these changing times. They are full of questions: Is Santa’s operation recession-proof? Does Santa have a succession plan? Was Santa hurt by the Great Beanie Baby Boom and Bust?

The answer to the latter: Yes, but Santa has a series of magical warehouses to store his massive Beanie Baby stockpile until they are back in style. “Santa always takes the long view,” says a source close to the polar powerhouse described by poet Clement Clarke Moore, the man behind one of the earliest confirmed Santa sightings, as a “right jolly old elf.”

Moore also reported in the 19th century that Santa Claus, alias St. Nicholas, had “a little round belly that shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.’’ Years later that drew a “statement of concern’’ from the Journal of the American Medical Association. A JAMA editorial said excess abdominal fat is tied to various health risks, including heart disease, cancer and dementia, and is “no laughing matter, even when the action of the subcutaneous fat resembles a gelatinous substance subjected to humor-related vibrational forces.”

The public’s fears (generalized anxiety) were relieved by a statement from the North Pole that explained that Elven candy canes and hot chocolate are “infused with antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids” that lower cholesterol to such an extent that Santa’s mortality risk is remarkably low, better than that of any other figure drawn from myth or reality. Santa also does considerable strength training, to aid in hefting toy-laden sacks that are well beyond human OSHA standards. “He could play right tackle for the New England Patriots right now,” said an elf health specialist. “I mean it, they could seriously use him.”

Holiday observers, called Santa-ologists, believe he is a hands-on manager involved in everything from data collection (toy requests), intelligence gathering (the critical list of boys and girls who have been bad or good) and training of flying reindeer. Donder and Blixen are said to be “getting on in years,” and may soon be replaced by Liam and Noah. Traditionalist elves are said to be unhappy about the transition to contemporary names, but one grumbled that the “official policy is ho-ho-ho and we have to hollen mín mouths.” That roughly translates to “shut our traps,’’ according to an online Elvish translator.

North Pole sources discounted rumors that Santa seriously considered a deal to have Amazon exclusively handle deliveries. According to a source close to the talks, “Jeff Bezos (Amazon CEO) couldn’t wrap his head around free overnight delivery, and free gifts, to good little boys and girls.” Bezos proposed requiring the purchase of Amazon Prime memberships and other stipulations to drive future profits, but “Santa doesn’t work like that,” said the source. And Bezos apparently seemed too fixated on Santa’s round-the-clock data collection. “Amazon wants to know when you’ve been sleeping, and know when you’re awake. There’s a creep factor.”

Which brings up an intriguing point about the North Pole operation. As far as analysts can tell, it generates no actual revenues — never mind profits. There could be significant losses after accounting for the cost of answering voluminous correspondence, dealing with personnel expenses (highly tenured elves), and wear and tear on the globe-trotting sled, which flies at hypersonic speeds and has traveled millions of miles.

There’s serious conjecture that Santa may have a secret network of financial advisers who alert him to investments to subsidize his generosity, and lower materials costs. Years ago it was thought that shell companies linked with the North Pole had interests in leather supplies for baseball gloves and materials in China needed for porcelain dolls. But now speculation centers on investments into rare earth metals essential for technology.

“Santa knows many leaders in finance and industry who were good little boys and girls, and can draw on a deep reservoir of goodwill,” said a source who asked to remain anonymous because he fears, even as a mid-career professional, being placed on an official naughty list. “You may have moved on from Santa, but Santa never moves on from you,” he said.

Of course, other business and finance leaders received “nothing but coal” when they were young, said the source. “I bet you can guess at a lot of them. Some went into the coal industry, ironically enough, or areas like pharmaceuticals and offshore tax havens.” And yes, many went into politics.

Closer to home, institute researchers couldn’t gain access to North Pole data that would reveal which Upper Valley cities and towns have the highest percentage of children receiving the coveted “good’’ rating. However, their own polling suggests that residents of each community — without exception — think they rank at the top. Though that is not realistic, it seems in keeping with the spirit of the season.

Asked for an official response to speculation about Santa and his global philanthropic empire, the North Pole responded simply with “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

That’s just like Santa: preserving an air of mystery — and always taking the high road.

Dan Mackie lives in West Lebanon. He can be reached at dan.mackie@yahoo.com.

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