Santa’s War Journal: December 24th, 2021 — Entry 78,666
Christmas Eve, twenty twenty-one, promises to be Santa’s most difficult evening in quite some time
Christmas Eve, twenty twenty-one. It promises to be the most difficult evening, of the most difficult year, in quite some time. For so many reasons, it didn’t have to be like this.
The year started off with such promise. A year ago today, at what we thought — foolishly — was the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, hope glittered on the horizon. Pfizer had just received Emergency Use Authorization for its mRNA vaccine. Albert Bourla made the nice list, in a big way, to the tune of tens — perhaps hundreds — of millions of dollars. Moderna and Stéphane Bancel weren’t far behind. Sinterklaas Global Enterprises was an essential business. Our team comprised of essential workers. Soon we’d all be inoculated. We just had to pull through the final crucial two weeks of the holiday season.
And we did. By many metrics, Christmas twenty-twenty was the most successful in our organization’s long history. Travel restrictions spurred us to all-time record revenues. We spread cheer during the darkest of times. We brought smiles to the faces of children, who’d known only fear and isolation, in that most harrowing of years. Sure, on the bottom line we’d lost money, but we’d made a difference.
The aftermath was when things started going south. On New Year’s Day, I felt a tickle in my throat. Then a cough, imperceptible at first, then lingering, then cacophonous. After, the deluge: fever, aches, joint pain, difficulty breathing — the full gamut. The test results were a formality. I’d contracted Covid-19. I was awash in guilt. There was no telling how many billions I’d put at risk.
I preemptively checked into an Oslo hospital. The first week was tough, but not as bad as feared. As a high-risk patient — elderly, obese, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, fibromyalgia — my outlook was, frankly, grim. But the staff were excellent. It was a fearful time, but I was in the best of hands.
The second week didn’t go quite as well. By day nine, my blood oxygen levels were corpselike. I was intubated and ventilated. Pumped full of steroids and monoclonal antibodies. One rogue nurse even shot me up with hydroxychloroquine for good measure. Couldn’t hurt, I figured.
I slipped into a coma on day fifteen. On day twenty-five Mrs. Claus considered pulling the plug. Something stopped her, I don’t know what. Maybe it was divine intervention. Maybe it was dumb luck. On day thirty I was conscious again. My body had found a way to turn the tide. Santa would live to fight another Christmas.
In early February, successive PRC tests confirmed I was negative for SARS-CoV-2. Sixty-three of my jolliest pounds had evaporated. I received my first Pfizer jab shortly after. In three short weeks I’d be bulletproof against Covid. I was free to go home. Unshackled, for the first time in a long time.
Amazon’s fourth quarter revenues — aided heavily by Sinterklaas — were record-setting. Earnings missed consensus expectations, however, which Bezos attributed to “the extraordinary global business climate.” I made a brief appearance on the conference call to assuage investors. The vaccine rollout was in full swing. Economies were opening up. The new roaring twenties beckoned.
Then came the text. The board was having an emergency meeting and I needed to be there in person. I took Bezos’ private jet for a quick stopover in London, visited the Queen, then flew direct to Seattle.
The meeting was short and bitter. The board said I was a liability. They said I’d lost a step. Said I was old fashioned. Out of touch. Unequipped to navigate the digital age. Sinterklaas may have been the engine behind Amazon’s retail sales explosion, but that counted for little. EPS and operating cash flow were down, and investors demanded accountability, I was told.
They zeroed out my incentive comp and reclassified me as an “independent contractor.” I was given a rolling one-year deal with renewal solely at the board’s discretion. Even Santa Claus had been reduced to just another cog in the gig economy machine.
Spring break was well-timed. The pandemic was subsiding. And I needed a respite. Things were finally getting back to normal. Sinterklaas’ vaccination rates were lower than I’d hoped, but business fundamentals were solid. Things were looking up.
Then Delta hit. At first nobody knew what to make of it. The Atlantic’s Ed Yong — he was such a good boy last year I gave him a Pulitzer — laid it all out for us. Things were about to get way worse, he warned. And then they did.
By July our entire supply chain was in shambles. Forty percent of the Elves were infected, or forced to quarantine, throughout the summer months. Our lagging vaccination rates never improved, fueling a surge of absenteeism, hospitalizations, deaths, and backbreaking insurance bills. We were hemorrhaging cash. And just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, the Great Elvish Resignation further accelerated.
By early fourth quarter, more than half the Elves had quit or died. The reindeer squadron was decimated. Vixen had been sidelined with long Covid for months. Donner and Prancer succumbed to Delta during the summer surge. We’d lost Olive to fentanyl and Rudolph to QAnon. Blitzen got twenty-five-to-life for impaling a capitol police officer during the insurrection. Dasher, Dancer, Comet, and Cupid labored on. Exhausted, exasperated, enraged. Sinterklaas Global Enterprises was coming unglued.
My own family wasn’t spared, either.
Mrs. Claus caught breakthrough Delta at Jack’s Halloween party. The combined effects from her first bout with the OG coronavirus entirely deprived her of taste and smell. She’s been withdrawn ever since. No longer baking cookies or pies. Just rocking alone in her favorite chair. Knitting. Waiting, apparently, to fade away.
Frosty self-sublimated during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. His note said he was fed up with government inaction on climate change.
And still, there’s no rest for the weary. Inflation is now running rampant, chewing into Sinterklaas’ margins, and driving up costs at the worst possible time. Jay Powell — I’m going to personally ensure he gets a bag of coal for the rest of his worthless life — spectacularly failed his two jobs. There’s zero chance we turn a profit this season. Retail sales are plummeting while people justifiably tighten their belts. The Christmas magic appears to be fading.
Which is why, tonight, the stakes are as high as they’ve ever been. But I’ve overcome worse odds. I still have four reindeer. I still have my sleigh. And I still have the drive. The board can piss off. All the money in the world won’t stop them from being miserable twats. The shareholders can revolt. Let’s see how they like the forthcoming Weimar Republic-style hyperinflation. Everyone else can eat horse paste.
Because my name is Santa F. Claus, and the holidays are my domain. So onward we push. Through Omicron. Through economic calamity. Through surging crime rates. Through the death of representative government. Through whatever comes next.
It’s Christmas season, motherfuckers, and I’m coming to town.