"This has been coming for some time now," Kringle told reporters at a recent press conference. "We've always been a non-profit organization, but unless we make drastic changes, we'll no longer be able to provide children with the service they've come to expect."
The biggest change will be the discontinuing of Christmas Eve delivery of presents and goodies. This will allow Santa to sell his Icemaster Turbo SL-500 Sleigh and also terminate the employment contracts of his reindeer staff.
"This was a tough decision," said Kringle. "But the reality is, no one is allowed to see me making the deliveries anyway, so if we just ship gifts all around the planet, the impact on our customers will be minimal. FedEx has agreed to give us a substantial discount on shipping costs, so when you balance that against the expense of sleigh maintenance and the housing, feeding, and upkeep of our reindeer, we'll come out ahead."
When asked what will become of Santa's legendary sleigh, Kringle replied, "We're putting it up for auction right after the holidays. The Icemaster is a one-of-a-kind vehicle, equipped for both land and air travel. The ultra-super-sonic engines allow it to cruise at Mach 7, and its stealth mode feature renders it invisible to enemy radar. Slap a few missile launchers and a bomb bay on that sucker and it will undoubtedly become the linchpin of some lucky nation's air force. We're starting the bidding at fifty million dollars."
The revelation that the sleigh is powered by engines, not reindeer, came as a shock to members of the media. When asked to explain, Santa said, "The reindeer are purely cosmetic, used mainly to support our company's image. What magic would there be in Santa Claus soaring through the sky in a supersonic sleigh? No, Donner, Comet, Vixen and the crew are simply along for the ride."
Santa's elves have not escaped the proverbial head-rolling either. Currently, Santa Claus Enterprises maintains a staff of over five thousand "vertically challenged" employees who work year-round to build toys for children all over the world. However, with today's kids becoming more and more sophisticated, the demand for generic, hand-made gifts has decreased to practically nil.
"Look, what kid wants an airplane carved out of wood or a skillfully-crafted red wagon when they can have a laptop computer or an iPad?" said Santa. "We're going to keep five hundred or so elves to work in our I.T. department, where they'll be ordering products from Nintendo, Sony, Apple, and other manufacturers for us to send off to the good boys and girls. Everyone else is being let go. Even at minimum wage, the savings will be significant."
Santa went on to say that he was going to have to make some changes in his own day-to-day activities as CEO. "I'm still going to be making a list, but now I'll only be checking it once. I figure, if one or two naughty kids slip through the cracks, it's not that big of a deal. And no more 'seeing you when you're sleeping.' I've got better things to do, if you want to know the truth."
|Kringle and Salaben, in happier times.|
"This is total frickin' elk dung," said Salaben. "Laying off ninety percent of your entire manufacturing staff is just insane. Most of these guys have been working at the North Pole since they were teenagers. Their fathers were toy-makers, their grandfathers were toy-makers . . . it's a legacy around here. And now Kringle is just gonna put forty-five hundred elves out in the cold? It's not like there are a lot of other employment opportunities for them up here above the Arctic frickin' Circle. You ever see a homeless elf? Break your heart, man."
The Global Reindeer Association (GRA) had no such concerns about their laid-off members.
"Not a problem at all," said Dasher. "It's not like the fat tub of figgy pudding ever paid us anyway. He kept us locked in a stable all year, feeding us hay and oats. Like we were HORSES or something! Firing us? More like liberating us, if you ask me."
Asked if the timing of Kringle's announcement might negatively impact the upcoming Christmas, Dasher replied, "Nah, fat boy timed it perfectly. The elves can't do squat because the toys are already packed up in the warehouse, and we reindeer are just decoration to begin with. What are we gonna do, strike?"
Comet, though, has other ideas. "Oh, it's gonna have an impact, all right. Starting a week or so ago, I've had a couple disgruntled elves bring me nothing but burritos and prune juice for every meal. Come Christmas Eve, I'm gonna be packed to the antlers with turd bombs. Let's just say I'm gonna make an impact on most of North America."
In related news, the Wall Street Journal reports that stock in Santa Claus Enterprises (SNTA) has dropped 35% in the wake of recent events, trading at $28.03 per share at the close of business on December 14.