Santa Clause, or How Not to Contract Out Christmas

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
Originally written against the clock for a flash fiction competition. Now tidied up and slightly extended.

Submitted: December 02, 2016

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Submitted: December 02, 2016

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Santa Clause, or How Not to Contract Out Christmas


 

Born in March 270AD, Saint Nicholas was beginning to show his age. Despite sleeping for ten months a year, and only waking in late October to supervise packing sleighs, in recent years he had found it difficult to stay alert until the last reindeer was unharnessed and released onto the mossy tundra on Boxing Day. His old bones ached, and his mind started to wander as he fought to keep awake. He relied more and more on his lead reindeer for navigation, and judging by the colour of Rudolph's nose his problem with alcohol fermenting in the animal’s stomachs was getting worse each year. He cursed modern shop bought mince pies with their high sugar and fat content.

But last year he had an idea. He would contract out the order assembly and present packing. After putting the job out to tender he chose Amazon, with their huge automated warehouses. This year he could just pick up the furthest loads from local depots, together with a computerised route printout, as he made his way round the globe. He would send his most trusted elves out to monitor the gift selection and wrapping processes, just for peace of mind. Now he could stay in bed until a few days before his first deliveries to Holland on December 6th. A whole extra month in the Land of Nod. What could possibly go wrong!

On December 1st he woke to the sound of elf bells coming upstairs. A diminutive helper opened his bedroom door with his back, and rotated to face him. The smell of Greek coffee and halva from the tray dispelled any remnants of sleep as he sat up and stroked his beard away from his mouth. A second elf came in, and stood behind the first. Santa instinctively focussed on the second elf, he was using the first to hide what he held in his hand.

“What have you got there?”

“Only some paperwork for the Dutch presents. There are a few items to resolve.”

“What sort of items?”

“They've packed bowls instead of Bols, kippers instead of DeKuyper... And you do not want to know what they've packed instead of Speculaas.”

“Yes I do!” he roared.

“Spectacles!”

Santa sank back into his bed. As a religion, Speculaas consumption came a close second to Hageslag, or Sprinkles, in Holland, and even eclipsed it on his special day. If every Dutch family got up to find a pair of ReadySpecs beside their coffee pot, instead of their favourite spicy chocolate biscuits for breakfast then there would be riots.

He pushed his breakfast away, and dragged himself out of bed.

“Get me a call to Seattle!”

Half an hour of shouting at Amazon directors later, he put down the phone and reached for his cold coffee. The thick black liquid was even more bitter cold, so he grabbed a halva and chewed. But he felt better. Amazon might give his squeaky voiced helpers the run-around, but they quickly buckled under when he roared down the phone at a decibel level that split eardrums.

In the event December 6th went passably well. A few minor scrapes, and a Mercedes A Class in a ditch swerving to avoid a meandering Rudolph, as his nightly intake of refined sugar fermented like a brewery in a hurry. But no worst than any other year.

December 19th in Eastern Europe went much the same: if you discount holiday snaps instead of Schnapps, and trying to get a Lada down a chimney instead of a case of lager.

And so the big day came. All the reindeer had polished hooves, shiny bells and immaculately brushed hides. Sleighs were piled high and that familiar silvery tinkling filled the air as impatient heads were tossed.

After an early tea he filled his flask, and walked down to the stables. Amazon's truck was just driving away, and the elves were proding the sleigh to ensure the load was secure. There the Chief Elf grinned as he handed St Nick the Amazon route printout, and scampered off to open the giant stable doors. There was a light snow in the air. Not enough to be a problem, just a little to provide the right atmosphere. A perfect night for the job in hand.

Starting in Vienna to give himself an extra hour when he crossed the time zone into England later that night, he parked on his first rooftop, and slid down to fill stockings. As he came out of the fireplace he looked around for his first mince pie and glass of port.

Nothing!

He looked for stockings pinned to the chimney breast.

Again nothing!

He looked around the room. No decorations, no Christmas cards. Just a seven branch candelabra on the table, and a copy of the Jewish Chronicle on a footstool.

For the first time in 1650 years he panicked.

He'd been given the wrong list. For a bulky man he was surprisingly nimble, and he was out the chimney pot and into the sleigh before the soot hit the hearth. A quick scan of the printout showed names like Stein, Fischer, Goldberg and Levy. He was staring at a list of Hanukkah gifts. Not his department at all, and should have been delivered days ago. The next few minutes roaring into the elf-phone were later reported on Radio Arabella as a freak local thunder storm. Eventually Amazon Directors were hauled away from office parties and instructed to sort it out. Fortunately the presents were correct, just an IT cock-up with the delivery list! But there was no obvious way to get a new printed list to him, and a return trip to the North Pole to pick it up would take far too long.

It was the Chief Elf who saved the day. He got all the elves to dial mobile numbers at random, until Santa heard a ringing in one of the sacks in the back of the sleigh. St Nick rummaged for the box. Yes! An Apple Smartphone! He ripped open the packaging, and emailed back to the North Pole. A few minutes later the first page of the proper list arrived in his in-box.

So if you were expecting a Smartphone for Christmas, and it turns up late in a torn box, with a flat battery and soot stains all over the screen and keys then do not complain. Just be grateful that you have been instrumental in preventing thousands of children from being disappointed on Christmas Day.


© Copyright 2017 James Court. All rights reserved.

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