(Editorial note: This continues a series of North Pole Christmas tales first published in 2010. Two years ago, Santa Claus was purchased in a leveraged buyout and renamed Santa Inc., Ltd. The story picks up early Boxing Day morning, 2018.)

“Phew, Dasher, that’s over for another year. I just wonder how long this gig can last. Sleigh landing zone 4-B was totally mush and the others are down to nothing but barren tundra what with this climate change thing.”

“Yeah, Dancer, and yet new Santa thinks it’s all a ‘hoax.’ ”



“Don’t you think it’s a little hard to miss, what with his sons shooting dying seals flopping around on the exposed ice flows?”

“Dancer, we’ve sure had a string of bad luck for the last eight years; first all the regular reindeer, except the two of us, died or retired; then Rudolph dragged Santa down that nuclear cooling tower he thought was a chimney; and that whole leprechaun caravan hoax.”

“Yeah, just good people looking for jobs. And they turned out to be a lifesaver, what with so many elves retiring. But it was a hoot while it lasted. Remember, ol’ man Rumplemintz had a conniption: ‘What do leprechauns know about making lists and checking them twice?’ he asked. ‘Other than sneaking up and kissing pretty girls or sitting on rainbows they have no applicable job skills.’ But old Santa said ‘We can’t know that for sure. I mean at some point they did accumulate a pot full of gold.’ It’s a crime new Santa is threatening to pull their green cards.”

“And don’t forget the special counsel investigation calling Santa Inc. fake news and pointing out the logistical impossibility of a single sled delivering millions of toys around the world in one night without outside collusion. I’ll be happy when that thing is finally over.”

“But Dasher the biggest blow was this damn hostile takeover.”

“Yeah, then they saddled Santa Inc. with crushing debt, sold off assets and moved the headquarters and customer satisfaction call center to Saudi Arabia to discourage customers seeking satisfaction.”

“Thank goodness the SEC got us back to the North Pole; I nearly sweated my antlers off over there. But I’ve still got doubts about this new corporate Santa. He knows absolutely nothing about making toys. Oh sure, he tweets about how smart he is, but everyone knows how much he lies. And what accounts for his bizarre attitude about climate change?”

“Well Dancer, I’m hearing he’s conspiring with Putin that when things get hot enough in the Arctic they’re going to build a lavish tropical beach resort in Murmansk.”

“Oh well, remember, Dasher, it’s the holidays and we need to count our blessings. The new reindeer, Abe, Jose, Abdula, Latricia, Little Dove and Shu Lay, have worked out just fine even if they weren’t what you called ‘our own kind’ when they first arrived. You’ve actually come to love them. And isn’t that what the holidays are all about?”

Incidentally, the pot of gold remains missing under mysterious circumstances.