Smile Politely

Santa the Refugee

The American Geological Union is set to announce today that, among other things, Santa is basically screwed.

Technically, they are announcing that our northern ice cap is continuing to melt at an alarming rate. But since there is no land at the North Pole, it begs the question: What is Santa going to do when the ice beneath The Christmas Village cracks open and swallows up everything children hold dear?

Will Santa become like the Dalai Lama, forced to travel the world as head of state in exile, advocating for a return to his homeland in the form of emission reductions? Will he become an embittered expatriate revolutionary, vowing to use his magic powers to muck up any climate-changing wheels of industry? Or will he simply retire, get a time share in Barbados and enjoy some well-deserved rest?

One thing we do know is that Santa is too important to the economy for the captains of industry to simply let him sink into the sea. Marketing hotshots and test focus groups will be put to work to create some new Santa myth. Hollywood will cement it with a new DreamWorks classic describing the full backstory. This may seem far-fetched, but keep in mind that children don’t know anything about history, other than remembering that they don’t like those green “vegetable” things so much. They are easy to trick.

So, at first, we’ll probably move Santa to a mountaintop somewhere that still gets plenty of snow. When the earth warms up enough that snow disappears altogether, we’ll invent a magic mountain with magic snow. Maybe we’ll move Santa inside the mountain and his elves will become dwarves (although we’ll also have to change the nature of dwarves from being selfish diggers of gold and treasure to sharers of gold and treasure).

In fact, it’s high time we stopped conflating Santa with Jesus and started conflating him with Gandalf. Kids will no longer get presents, but Santa will promise to keep them safe from Orcs, Goblins and Uruk-hai. And one lucky kid (or hobbit) will get to wear the ring of power and have dominion over all the world for one year.

Perhaps that’s a little dark. Harry Potter’s world is a much better choice for a kid’s Santa myth. We’ll announce that Harry Potter is not really the son of James and Lily, but the product of a misguided dalliance between Lily and a young, strapping wizard named Kris Kringle. James was going to quietly divorce her, but a ghost named Dumbledore tells him he needs to support Lily, because Harry will grow up to defeat all evil. After that, Harry and Ginny move to Hogwarts and turn it into a toy factory. Once a year Harry Kringle rides forth on his broomstick to distribute toys and candy to all the good boys and girls of the world.

But alas, these stories could never happen. Copyright laws are simply too strict. Perhaps we should simplify, dispense with anything involving cold, and move Santa to a desert. Magic flying camels can pull Santa on his Very Large Persian Rug. Perhaps Wise Men could bring Santa gifts every year, which he then distributes. The possibilities are endless. Plus, we will need more myths set in the desert in our new climate-changed world.

One thing is certain though: Santa will not move to the United States. A foreigner bringing in hordes of funny-looking, undocumented workers to undercut our manufacturing base will not play well with unions or pure-blooded American patriots. And consumers prefer our sweatshop labor unseen and safely overseas. The fruits of Santa’s labor are welcome here, but the man himself only gets a one-day visa.

Fantasy aside, it will be interesting to see what happens over the next generation, as this Santa dies and another takes his place. I guess the important question is one your own grandchildren might ask: What did you do to try to save Santa’s Winter Workshop back when it mattered?

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