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Deciding Who Has Been Naughty or Nice  By Don Urbanus

           Santa was in a quandary again.  He had survived last year’s ups and downs and near disasters like the lead paint scare on toys made in China.  And because there wasn’t much left of the North Pole, he had moved his toy shop (of the toys he still made) to inside Shasta Mountain in northern California.  He had found that the Lemurians who had been hiding inside the mountain for the last 50,000 years were quite cooperative.  Most helpful of all were the Sasquatchians – a small band of the Northern Bigfoot tribe, who had filled in for the elves when they went on strike a few years ago.  They weren’t very good at building toys but, man, they could really load his sleigh fast.

           Now that fuel prices had dropped Santa didn’t have to worry so much about the price of jet fuel.  For years he had “assisted” his aging reindeer with their task of carrying toys all over the world.  Frankly, he just couldn’t be that sentimental anymore.  He needed younger and savvier reindeer.  Poor old Rudolph, whose red nose had swollen so much from hitting the Peppermint Schnapps, had been replaced last year with Rosy, a petite female reindeer who had an uncanny sense of direction.  Because she weighed so much less than Rudolph, he saved on fuel.  It was a sign of the times. 

          But this year, with corrupt politicians, greedy CEO's, unscrupulous lenders, incompetent bureaucrats, and clueless consumers practically destroying the economy, there was a real overload on deciding who had been naughty and nice this year.  Of course, Santa had decided to cross Dick Cheney off his list altogether.  It didn’t do any good whatsoever giving Cheney a lump of coal.  He was proud of it and displayed it on his mantel where everyone could see.  Some people just don’t get it.

          Santa was agonizing over what to do with George W. Bush.  Here was a Harris poll that had George as one of the top ten presidents of all time.  Another poll taken at the same time had him as the worst president ever.  Santa was in a sensitive position.  He wanted to do the right thing.  Sure, the computers sorted out most of the little people on the planet; they were easy really – right and wrong, good and bad.  It was these high profile cases that kept him up nights.  He called his head elf, Elwynn, over to help him out.

          “Look, Santa,” Elwynn said, looking over his glasses at the poll numbers, “You can’t take polls too seriously.  Besides, I doubt if most Americans could even name ten presidents.  It’s your call, Santa, but I think that you ought to give W. that new chain saw that he put on his list.  I mean, he’s got a lot of brush to clear on his ranch and he won’t have anything else to do.  Anyway, he thought he was doing the right thing even if he did screw everything up.”

          Santa frowned and slowly shook his head.  “And he didn’t bomb Iran like Cheney wanted.  That has to count for something.  OK, put him down for the chain saw.”  Santa flipped open the next file and tossed it over to Elwynn.  “And this fellow?”

          Elwynn squinted at the name on the top.  “Oh, Governor Rod Blagojevich of Illinois?  Didn’t you give him some lotion so he could grow an extra thick head of hair?”

          “I did,” Santa replied, “And because of that they elected him governor.  Now he’s selling Barack Obama’s senate seat out to the highest bidder.  Surely he should get a lump of coal.”

          “Hmm, I see what you mean,” Elwynn said, rubbing his pointy chin.  “A politician trying to enrich himself in office and abusing his power.  An egomaniac declaring his innocence and refusing to resign.  Seems like your typical average politician to me.  What’s your point?”

          “Shouldn’t we make an example of him?” Santa asked. 

          “Well then, you would have to give every politician in the country a lump of coal,” Elwynn scoffed.

          “Well, at least Congress and the Whitehouse are working, trying to fix the economy,” Santa protested.

          “Yes, that’s true,” agreed Elwynn, “but if by working you mean giving away a trillion dollars to investment bankers and speculators who screwed up, then by all means, give them more of what they want.  I don’t know, Santa, you make the big calls here.  Oh, by the way, Mrs. Santa said that you forgot to renew her membership in Curves.  And please don’t forget to get her something for Christmas this year.  I’m tired of covering your… ” Elwynn glanced over where an elf was frantically waving a portable phone in the air, trying to get his attention.  He sighed and strode away.  It was the China phone.  Now what?

          Santa sat there deep in thought stroking his white beard.  He glanced over at one of the storerooms loaded with lumps of coal.  That was one thing he had plenty of.  He thought about all of the kids who might not get any presents or even have a home this year because of all the foreclosures.  He picked up the entire file on his desk and deposited it into the naughty box next to his desk.  He felt a big weight lift off his chest.  Santa took a deep breath and stood up, determined to make this the best Christmas for as many people in the world as he could.

(Printed in the Calaveras Enterprise 12-16-08)


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