THE NORTH POLE, December 19, 2013—”I’m sorry, Santa, but the judge says no. No more spying on children to decide who’s naughty or nice.”
Old St. Nick couldn’t believe it as he hung up the phone with his lawyer. ‘Twas the week before Christmas and all cross the land all his data was shut down. The Santa Network was banned.
“You can use the mail. Kids can send requests. Parents can send letters.” ruled the judge. “It worked in Miracle on 34th Street. We have the mails thanks to Benjamin Franklin and the Founding Fathers. And Santa does respect the Founding Fathers, doesn’t he?”
It was that stupid NSA! They made everybody hyper-sensitive. He would deliver lots of extra coal this year to Fort Meade! What were they thinking, tracking every phone call in the country! And monitoring emails and websites! Not even Santa did that.
Sure, each Elf on the Shelf had big ears and they intercepted not only phone calls but everything said in the whole house … but how else could he make lists of who was naughty and who was nice? After all, it was only about toys!
“Just imagine the potential for blackmail, or for testimony in divorce cases,” the plaintiff’s lawyer had complained to the judge. “If there’s no privacy in our homes anymore, then there’s no privacy anyplace!” Then she called a witness who testified TOYS was actually a CIA program meaning “They Observe You Secretly.”
“And those Santa’s helpers in the shopping malls!” the lawyer railed on. “You never know what the children will whisper in their ears. They might even ask for something dangerous, something that would shoot their eye out!”
The judge had no idea how difficult Santa’s job had become. The jolly old elf didn’t care about all the other information that came through his network. All Santa cared about was what the kids wanted for Christmas. It was complicated these days.
Did they want a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figure? Raphael or Michelangelo? Donatello?
Some kids wanted a doll from Monster High. Others asked for a Fisher-Price Little People Disney Princess Songs Palace. Or a Barbie Life in the Dreamhouse Fashion Vending Machine. Other requests were for the LEGO Super Heroes Iron Man™ Malibu Mansion Attack 76007.
Santa paused, got out his glasses and looked at his notes. Yes, the number was right. The requests were for the Attack 76007. He wouldn’t want to deliver a 76001 by mistake.
He also had to sort out the asks for the Despicable Me 2 8-inch Talking Minion Doll. But Dave or Stuart? Or Singing Tim? And Furby’s are back, with multiple colors and multiple personalities. (“Furby can feel Rockin, Sweet, Hyper, Jolly, or Fiesty.”) And there are dozens of different Nerf guns.
And Skylanders! With at least 70 different Skylanders, you must not make mistakes! It would break a child’s heart if they were set on Sonic Boom and instead they got Stump Smash or Ghost Roaster. That child could be scarred for life. Or if they needed something for the PlayStation 3 and instead got it for the Xbox 360! No! Santa’s head started to throb then, as he remembered the arrivals of the PS4 and the Xbox One.
The judge didn’t understand that being Santa today is all about information networks and data security and the front-end and the back-end and the bandwidth and the user interface. None of that healthcare.gov incompetence for Santa and his workshop! His elves now are trained and certified by Microsoft, Cisco, IBM, Oracle and CISSP. His reindeer are guided by the finest GPS and several of them (Donner, Prancer, Dasher and Comet) plan to wear Google Glasses this year. (The other reindeer wear earbuds and listen to iPods.)
Rudolph had his red nose upgraded. Now it features FLIR infrared thermal imaging and radiates heat. Santa sighed. These were more things that the judge hadn’t liked.
“First, that nose contributes to global warming!” screeched the plaintiff’s counsel. “Next, it’s aerial spying! Once they’re up on the housetop and the reindeer pause, and out jumps dear old Santa Claus, what do you think the reindeer are doing while they wait? Reconnaissance! Their Google Glasses capture images, taken on private property, that will end up posted on the Internet! They’ll be looking in people’s windows, judge. They’ll see you in your kerchief and ma in her cap!”
“And all these overly-trained elves! They’re putting children’s names in a database! How do we know it’s secure? Have their parents given permission for Santa to do this? There’s a child welfare division at HHS; we should at least get Kathleen Sebelius to send over some of her computer experts to look at this. They can fix what’s wrong in no time!”
Santa slumped in his rocker as he remembered the agony of sitting through that trial. But the judge’s ruling was clear, and his lawyer had just confirmed that there was no hope of winning an appeal before Christmas. Relying on the mail was inefficient and many requests would not reach the North Pole in time, but he would do his best.
He thought about the mail. Reading children’s letters had always been one of his favorite things to do. The sweet innocence of the children brought joy like nothing else could.
As he thought about it, Santa began to cheer up. His eyes — how they twinkled! his dimples how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry! He even laughed and his little round belly shook like a bowlful of jelly.
Feeling now like he could overcome any problem, Santa reached for the nearest stack of newly-arrived envelopes. On the top was a letter from his health insurance carrier.
A moment later, out in the workshop, all the elves looked up in shock. They’d never heard such a loud scream before.
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