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Jim Heffernan column: ’Twas the day after Christmas Eve

Jim Heffernan is a former Duluth News Tribune news and opinion writer and columnist.

Jim Heffernan
Jim Heffernan

Well, he made it. Santa Claus is back at the North Pole after last night’s grueling journey around everywhere delivering lots of toys to girls and boys.

“It was a rough one,” the Jolly Old Elf admitted after landing at sunrise near his cozy cabin and toy factory at the top of the world — not feeling quite as jolly as in the weeks leading up to his annual trek.

Eager to “hit the sack” (not the sack he carries on his back, but his cozy bed), Santa granted an interview before snuggling under the quilts and covers for a long winter’s nap.

“But make it short,” he said. “I’m bushed.”

Why was this Christmas trip such a “rough one?” he was asked.

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“Because it’s different now. Everything’s changed from the old days when I could harness up the reindeer just after dark on Christmas Eve and make my way south, red- nosed Rudolph in the lead in case of fog.” Every direction is south from where Santa and Ms. Claus live.

He said, for one thing, he’s had to worry about the elves coming down with COVID all year while busily making the children’s toys. “We all made it,” Santa said, adding, “I think it’s too cold up here for the virus. But we’re careful. We all wore masks all the time, although it’s hard to get a mask around my flowing white beard. Drives me nuts.”

“Then there’s the consarned clouds,” he went on. “It used to be kind of pleasant up there in the clouds, drifting along in my sleigh, Dasher, Dancer Prancer and Vixen in the lead behind Rudolph, with Comet, Cupid. Donner and Blitzen pulling their weight behind them.”

“But,” he said, “now the clouds are full of words and reports and letters and all sorts of stuff where people store the materials from their computers. It’s a mess up there.”

Asked what sort of stuff he encounters, Santa almost blushed, although his face is so permanently red it’s hard to tell. “You have no idea what people write on their computers and then store it in the cloud. Companies, the government, and ordinary people clog up the clouds with their data. I’ve never had to deal with data before.”

He went on to say all of the data in the clouds is confusing the reindeer as they led the sleigh around the world. “We plowed into the data from the Internal Revenue Service and had a hard time finding our way out.”

“Then there’s this global warming,” he groused. “Believe me, that is not a good sign for delivering gifts to the kids on Christmas.” He noted that with less snow in the future, his sleigh will have a difficult time landing on roofs as he delivers the toys to eager children.

“You don’t see as many polar bears around the yard here either. It’s a mess. It’s just not as much fun as it used to be. I should retire. Hardly anybody believes in me anymore anyway,” he said as he loosened the belt on his huge red bathrobe.”

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“Oh now Santa,” Ms. Claus chimed in. “You’re just tired and you ate too many cookies children left for you along the way.”

The usually Jolly Old Elf indeed was not very jolly at all this morning as he mused about last night’s journey around the world. Not a “ho” to be heard, much less two more ho’s.

“You aren’t going to retire or anything are you?” the interviewer queried.

“Nah, I don’t think so,” he answered. “It’s just that everything’s so changed these days it kind of gets a Saint like me down.”

“Cheer up, Sweetie,” Ms. Claus interrupted. “Here, have an egg nog and you’ll feel better after a good rest.”

With that, Santa turned on his heel and headed for his cozy bedroom for a long winter’s nap. But I heard him declaim as he hit the sweet hay, “Happy Christmas to all and to all a good day.”

Jim Heffernan is a former Duluth News Tribune news and opinion writer and columnist. He maintains a blog at jimheffernan.org and can be reached by email at jimheffernan@jimheffernan.org .

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