From the new and improved Santa Claus

Essay by Lou Bendrick

Christmas – December 2002 – Colorado Central Magazine

To: Residents of Western Region, North America

From: First Assistant to Kris Kringle

THIS COMMUNICATION is to inform you that Christopher Kringle, aka, Saint Nicholas and Santa Claus, henceforth known herein as Mr. Claus, has made several changes to your subscriber service. Mr. Claus will not be arriving by “a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer” this year because of an outbreak of chronic wasting disease. Please note that this outbreak was completely contained, that there was no “dashing,” and affected reindeer, specifically Comet and Cupid, were quarantined. The public was not threatened at any time.

The rest of Mr. Claus’s “coursers” remain free-range, antibiotic- and hormone-free. However, Mr. Claus’s sleigh air-worthiness certificate has been withdrawn by the Federal Aviation Administration, pending replacement of these reindeer. This recent development, in combination with the fact that wood-burning stoves and fireplaces have been eliminated from many communities by clean-air restrictions, means that the “little old driver” will be walking door to door.

In deference to noise ordinances and out of concern for Mr. Claus’s safety, rest assured that there will be no “clatter” whatsoever — no need for anyone to “spring out of their bed to see what is the matter.” Needless to say, there will be no “prancing and pawing of little hooves.” Because of an unfortunate incident last year when Mr. Claus was mistaken for a “peddler just opening his pack” and arrested for not having a business license, Mr. Claus stands ready to present a valid photo ID at each and every house.

There have been instances during past years of counterfeiting of Mr. Claus’s likeness. Anyone claiming to be Mr. Claus who does not have a hologram-imprinted photo identification can expect to be contacted by the Service Mark & Copyright Department and to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Please note that as a professionally-retained spokesperson for Ho-Ho-Fast Meal Replacement Shakes, Mr. Claus no longer sports a “little round belly that shakes like a bowl-full of jelly.” Also, because of a new employee-grooming policy at Santa’s Workshop, Inc., he no longer wears a chin beard “as white as snow” or has facial hair of any sort, but rather is neatly shorn, his hairline falling no more than one inch below his collar.

In response to the threat of legal action by People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, Mr. Claus has agreed that he will no longer be “dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot.” His attire, which is not “tarnished with ashes and soot” out of concern for spreading second-hand carcinogens, is a berry-colored fleece-lined parka with a water-proof and breathable shell complete with adjustable hood and drawcord hem.

A recovering alcoholic, Mr. Claus no longer glows thanks to his “nose like a cherry.” Nor will there be any “smoke encircling his head like a wreath.” The North Pole, we are happy to report, is a smoke-free, drug-free workplace.

We are asking that the general public refer to Mr. Claus’s colleagues on the Christmas Performance Team not as “elves” per se, but as “People of Diminished Stature” or “People With Vertical Opportunity.” Please note that the North Pole is an equal opportunity employer and we do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender, or stature.

ALTHOUGH MR. CLAUS seriously considered the President’s request to patriotically spend our way out of this recession, he will no longer be distributing toys because of a continuing problem with product recalls and several pending product liability suits upon which we cannot comment. Therefore, Mr. Claus will be distributing SantaSnax, our freshly baked, wholesome bran muffins. These delicious, nutritious holiday treats are wheat- and dairy-free and have only two grams of unsaturated fat per 3.5-ounce serving. Children ask for them by name.

These muffins will be placed in stockings rather than under Christmas trees. We are unable to provide trees this year due to the recent United States tariffs applied to Canadian softwood imports. All-natural 100 percent dye-free cotton stockings made by indigenous Peoples of Small Stature are available at K. Kringle Enterprises, LLC or $19.95 plus S&H. Please place your order no later than midnight on Dec. 23 in order to guarantee delivery by Dec. 25. All major credit cards accepted.

This memo was produced on 100 percent recycled paper — 10 percent post-consumer content — and printed with soy ink. And oh yes, Happy Holidays!

Lou Bendrick is a contributor to Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News in Paonia, Colorado ( She lives in western Colorado and thanks Clement Clarke Moore, author of “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” for inspiring this column.