Memo from Santa: About that Christmas bonus . . .

By Julie Winterbottom
Friday, December 25, 2009

TO: All Employees of Santa's Workshop and Associated Businesses

FROM: Santa

RE: Restructuring

As many of you know, our business, once thought to be recession-proof, has been severely affected by the current economic crisis. The worldwide downturn and global changes in manufacturing and transport have led me to a very difficult decision: Effective Dec. 26, 2009, we will be closing the main workshop facility and scaling back or restructuring most of our other operations. While this transition will be painful, I believe it is the best way to stem our losses, reinvigorate the Santa brand and, ultimately, move the business into the 21st century.

The problems we have faced in recent years have proved insurmountable. You're all familiar with our difficulty in obtaining sleigh parts, the increasingly incomprehensible requests from spelling-challenged children and injuries sustained in faux fireplaces, to name just a few.

In the past 12 months, Mrs. Claus and I have worked tirelessly to save the business and avoid cutbacks in staff. We spent weeks working out a merger with the Tooth Fairy, only to have the deal fall through when TF Inc. insisted that I be replaced with a younger, "less cholesterol-driven, more ethnically ambiguous" spokesperson. Company officials also demanded that I retire the phrase "ho, ho, ho" (which they seemed to think was disrespectful toward young women). I of course could not agree to such drastic alterations in the brand.

In the end, we had to face the facts: In the words of the consulting firm we brought in, "It is simply not feasible in today's economy to run a business where 90 percent of the gross income arrives in the form of eggnog, cookies and re-gifted fruitcake."

I want to thank all of you in advance for your hard work heading into the 2009 season and apprise you of the changes that will be implemented immediately after our final deliveries are made on Friday, Dec. 25:

The Workshop: About 20 percent of the elf workforce will be taking early retirement. Half of the elves left on staff will remain on the payroll but will work out of their homes, using their own machinery. The other toymaker positions will be eliminated. Elves whose jobs have been eliminated will receive generous severance packages. They will also be eligible for a free training program designed to help them transition into new careers, including but not limited to custom shoe repair, mascot work and sales assistance at roadside Christmas Villages. Elves who wish to remain at the North Pole are welcome to apply for positions in our Santa Goes Green Foundation's "Teach a Polar Bear to Swim" initiative.

Delivery Operations: In 2010, we plan to launch a Web site that will provide an alternative to traditional sleigh-based delivery service. The online service will include Santa's Lap (a chat function) and a virtual stocking that can be filled with e-toys. Users can also follow Santa via Twitter as he makes his rounds.

Since we expect our traditional sleigh-to-chimney business to drop off, we will be reducing our reindeer staff. Dancer and Vixen are leaving to pursue careers in a burlesque show in Las Vegas. Rudolph has received a grant to launch a "green" energy company, the first ever to harness electrical power from a nose. The rest of the herd will be employed by Santa's Workshop during the high season only. They will relocate to New York during the off-season to supplement their incomes by filling in for vacationing carriage horses in Central Park.

"Dear Santa" Division: This division will close, as we will no longer accept letters at the North Pole. All snail mail and electronic mail will be routed to our new customer service contractor in New Delhi.

In closing, I want to thank each and every one of you for your centuries of service. Please join Mrs. Claus and myself at 4 p.m. today in the employee lounge for an eggnog toast to all your hard work.

Julie Winterbottom, former editor in chief of Nickelodeon Magazine, is a freelance writer in Brooklyn. Her e-mail address is winterbottom.julie@yahoo.com.


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