2017-12-13 / Editorials

The jolly ol’ elf

Other Voices
Mitch Clarke

(Publisher’s Note: This column first appeared in this paper Dec. 21, 2016, edition of this paper.) I was granted an exclusive interview last week with the jolly ol’ elf himself, Santa Claus.

Don’t scoff. This is Santa’s busy time of the year, and there are lots of reporters vying for his time. I heard that Savannah Guthrie was close to getting an interview for the “Today” show, but fortunately for me, she went out on maternity leave before she finalized the details.

I think the biggest reason Santa agreed to talk to me is that he and I go way back, to when I was about 5. I was particularly good that year and he brought me an electric train set

I called his North Pole office at the appointed time, but Jingles, the elf who answered the phone, said Santa was in a meeting.

“They’re putting the final touches on the Naughty-or-Nice list,” Jingles said. “It’s been a tough year for the list. Do you mind if I put you on hold for a few minutes.”

I hoped the hold music would be something from Faith Hill’s Christmas album. It wasn’t. It was “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” Fortunately, Santa didn’t make we wait long.

“Mitch, my boy, how are you?”

I’m well, Santa. Thanks for asking. I appreciate your time today. How are preparations going for your big day?

“Well, it’s been an eventful year at the Pole. The elves had a walkout earlier this year. They got wind that fast-food workers in America were picketing to get $15 an hour, so they staged a brief protest for more money. But it ended peacefully after I reminded them that nobody here gets paid. Shoot, I only get paid in milk and cookies, and Missus wants to change that.”

Why? Leaving milk and cookies for you is a great tradition.

“Oh, she’s become a health nut. She wants all the boys and girls to leave celery and carrot sticks for me so I can lose some weight. She actually expects Santa to be skinny. Have you ever heard such nonsense?”

That does seem a little extreme. But otherwise, is everything on schedule for this year’s flight?

“Indeed it is, my boy. After the protest, the elves worked extra hard to meet our demand, and Blitzen, who heads our transportation sector, has this year’s route already mapped out. It changes from year to year, based on who’s naughty and who’s nice.”

Speaking of the list, can you give me any hints about who’s been naughty and who’s been nice?

“Well, we did just end a presidential election year in America, and I can definitely say that few people involved that mudslinging debacle are on the Good List.”

Yeah, it was kind of ugly.

“One of the candidates threatened to fine me if I didn’t bring jobs back to America, and I had to tell him I’ve never had a plant in America. Thought a time of two about moving there, though.”


“I don’t why in the world I ever chose to put my headquarters at the Pole. It’s so cold here. We considered moving to the deserts of Arizona, but some of my elves aren’t American citizens and I’m not sure their paperwork is in order.”

Well, our time is up, Santa. It was an honor to talk to you. Is there anything else you’d like to say?

“I’d like to wish everyone the merriest of Christmases. … And if you want to leave cookies for me, please go ahead. The ol’ lady doesn’t need to know everything.”

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