FEATURE: Annual Santa interview: a feminist Christmas?
This reporter’s annual interview with Mr. Santa Claus (AKA Kris Kringle, St, Nicolas, Pere Noel) took an unexpected turn when Claus ended up remaining silent for the bulk of the conversation.
The interview began normally enough, with Claus fielding questions as to how the North Pole has weathered the previous year’s global economic downturn.
“Well, as much as I’d like to say we weren’t impacted, we’re part of the global community, too,” Claus said. “When the forestry companies falter, for example, it gets hard for us to access enough wood for our workshop – the elves are small, don’t you know, and don’t make the best loggers.”
He said it also casts a pall over festive preparations when the North Pole community knows people around the world are struggling.
“But that makes Christmas, the season of giving and good will, all the more important, so we just need to keep our eyes on the ball,” he said, adding the recession helped put things in perspective for him.
“It reminds me how lucky I am to be relying so heavily on magic and elves … Using your province as an example, I’m very grateful not to be dependant on profit margins in fickle markets; or that I’m not a government relying on tax dollars that may or may not be paid in time for me to live up to my annual commitments.”
Before he could extrapolate further on the matter, though, his wife, Mrs. Claus (henceforth in this article to be referred to as ‘Claus’, while her spouse shall be named as ‘Santa’, to avoid confusion), picked up the telephone extension and, in an unprecedented turn-around, took over the interview.
“Enough, enough of the depressing talk,” she said. “There have been important goings-on up here over the past year, and that’s what you should be talking about.”
When asked to elaborate, she said feminism has found its way to the North Pole, and said the paradigm shift has brought with it some fundamental changes in the way Christmas preparations are conducted.
“Well, it all started with our female elves demanding worker parity – they wanted to have the choice of baking goodies in the kitchen or getting their hands on the power tools in the woodshop (and those power tools do look like fun, don’t they, dear?),” she said.
“Then, of course, the male elves who prefer chocolate to chisels decided to leave the workshop and take their own turn in the kitchen. There have been some burned fingers … and cookies, too, for that matter … but everyone seems to settling in to their new, non-traditional roles.”
She said the reindeer have warmed to the idea as well, despite their frigid locale, with female reindeer slated to help lead the sleigh this year, “Well, dear, it just makes sense, doesn’t it, since they won’t hestitate to stop and ask for directions?”
For herself, Claus said a retirement plan and company-sponsored RRSPs are in the offing, as well as business cards, but not until she’s settled on the title she wants.
“You just wouldn’t believe the logistics involved in keeping track of all these elves, riding herd on flying reindeer, and ensuring Santa is organized and makes it out the door on time and with matching socks,” she said. “Maybe Chief Operating Officer? Or something more simple, like just ‘supervisor’?”
Regardless what moniker she settles on, though, she said she won’t be reverting to her maiden name.
“Heavens no, dear,” she said. “I admire women who wish to retain their own identities, but I’m not so locked into the ideal as all that. I’ve been Mrs. Claus forever, and I’m proud of that identity. It’s just who I am, now.”
She said the feminist perspective has even threaded its way into North Pole recreational pursuits.
“Well, the girl elves have started their own hockey team now, haven’t they?” she said. “And they’re very good …being told you ‘skate like a girl’ is high praise here, indeed.”
“We’ve also started up a petition for those female ski jumpers of yours,” she added. “We want to further the goals of equality around the world, not just here at the Pole.”
She said this is just the tip of a modernization iceberg revolutionizing operations up North, as a marriage of high tech and time-honoured tradition evolves.
“Computerizing the naughty/nice list has been such a blessing – no more ink smudges all over the laundry – although Santa does still check the list, twice, himself in case of computer glitches or mistakes in data entry,” she said. “And MapQuest has been such a help in finding the homes of kids who have moved during the year.”
She said the Internet has been a terrific way to help Pole residents stay in touch with friends and current events in the larger world, while the North Pole tech department is constantly upgrading skills and equipment as they scramble to fulfill the digital/electronic requests on children’s wish lists.
“You should’ve seen the first MP3 player we made,” Claus said, laughing. “It sounded like one of the reindeer was horking up a hairball. But we’re learning.”
Regardless the changes that take place at the Pole, she added, some fundamentals are timeless – like the baseline conviction that, whether naughty or nice, all children are blessings whose presence should be celebrated througout the year.
“And this year, more than ever, we need everyone’s help to ensure the Christmas season is all it’s meant to be,” she said. “It’s been a difficult year for many, and the gifts that really matter can’t be made in a workshop, no matter how much magic we use.
“We still need everyone’s help … we need everyone to offer the gifts of kindness and compassion and generosity of spirit. Inviting a hungry person to dinner, shovelling an elderly neighbour’s walk for them, calling a tow truck for your fellow motorist with a flat tire, being kind to, and patient with, someone who’s having a bad day … those are the gifts that really matter and, sadly, they’re not things we can leave in a stocking. That’s up to you, just as it has always been.”
Finally, she reminded everyone that Santa’s Christmas Eve progress can be tracked through NORAD (a service that began after Santa’s sleigh was identified as an unknown threat and he was almost detained by the military .. now the NORAD Santa tracker enures that no such calamity can ever be repeated), at http://www.noradsanta.org/
From all of us at The Source, we’d like to offer our warmest wishes this holiday season, and our sincere hope that you, our readers, enjoy a prosperous and joyful 2010.