Elf Ed ZacharyNorth Pole

It Ain’t About a Bird

Santa gets to see every letter sent to the North Pole eventually. But he has a lot of help in answering the thousands of letters that he receives each week. He’d love to answer each one personally, but he just can’t.

And, in many of the letters, the things people ask can clearly be answered by someone else “in-the-know”. In the case of the North Pole, they can be answered by an elf.

I am one of the lucky few with that assignment. But I only answer certain kinds of letters to Santa. That’s the way it works here with the mail. Certain elves answer certain letters.

For example, Elf Ernest gets what we call “the happy mail”. He handles delightful letters from little girls who put smilies on their signatures. They will actually seal each letter with a kiss and then label the back of the envelope with S.W.A.K., like it is some sort of goody-goody code. Ernest gets the easy questions, too. Not only can he sugarcoat things in a dozen different languages but it seems that Elf Ernest can do it with a straight face. The big galoot.

There are others here at the North Pole who handle thornier issues brought up in the mail. Elf Denise answers a lot of letters from Moms and Dads, for example. And Elf Angie handles other adult letters from people like teachers or newscasters. Elf Spencer handles questions about the technical capabilities of Santa. And Elf Oswaldo fields questions about the reindeer.

As for me, I get the kooks.

I get letters from weirdos who explain why there can be no Santa. Yep, believe it or not, there are actually geniuses out there who deny Santa’s existence and then write to Santa to explain how he just doesn’t exist. How would you respond to such stuff? I tell you, it tries my very soul to deal with such stupidity.

I even get letters from wackos who are anti-Santa. These are people who think Santa is real and that he’s a bad idea. Now, don’t try to figure that out. These folks are not only anti-Santa. They also stand firmly against crosswalks, the Boy Scouts and homogenized milk. Freaks, one and all.

I also get the complaints. When someone writes to complain about the paper a gift was wrapped in, I handle it. If someone gripes about tracks that Santa leaves on the floor accidentally, I deal with it. If Santa lands a little hard on the roof and wakes up the dog, it is my job to smooth things over.

In a nutshell, I handle the letters from the ungrateful.

If someone is unhappy with Santa, is it my job to remind him or her gracefully that gratitude is actually a virtue. Sometimes, there is simply no easy way to say that. And sometimes, the letters they write are so mean that I’m grateful there is no way for me to do it nicely. I mean, how dumb is it to write a snotty letter to Santa? Some of these folks deserve to be called idiots.

Take, for example, a letter received recently from some moron in California. This clown — from Southern California, no less writes to say that Santa should avoid flying in California because reindeer pollute the skies. According to him, the air quality or rather, the lack of it in California is Santa’s fault. Now how in the world can he assert that? Is he actually doing emission testing …um,…on reindeer?

I did a little checking and the fact of the matter is that our eco-minded friend is the owner of three cars, a boat, a motorcycle and a pair of jet skis. He also didn’t get the helicopter he asked Santa for last year. Now, I happen to know why but I am sworn to not say. But let’s just mention that instead of being thankful for what he did receive, this guy took Santa to task for what he did not.

And that, folks, is why I wanted to, once again, explain Thanksgiving to you. Perhaps if you get in the spirit of that great day which, not so coincidentally, falls about a month before Christmas on the calendar you’ll be a little wiser in your written communications with the Big Guy.

Yes, I said Thanksgiving. Here at the North Pole it is the most cherished, most precious day of the year. It is bigger than Halloween. It is more sacred than Mother’s Day. It is even revered beyond the most holy day of Christmas.

Oh, I hear you gasping out there. Now, before you all start writing cynical letters of protest giving me more mail to answer this year than ever before — let me explain why.

First of all, Thanksgiving has got nothing to do with food. And for those fiscally-minded folks who argue that Thanksgiving is great because it takes care of a whole house-full of people for under a hundred bucks, guess again.

It has nothing to do with money or saving it — either.

Thanksgiving, at least here at the North Pole, has everything to do with a human attribute that is, frankly, rarely cultivated or invoked — though many through the ages have tried. Spiritual leaders, presidents and kings, rulers and magistrates for generations in lands across the world have, on several occasions, declared days or even seasons of Thanksgiving. But most never seem to get the hint.

Thanksgiving without respect to religion or race or country of origin can be universally observed. A brief moment to recount what is good and right and lovely in this life is something that cannot divide us. In fact, the pure celebration of such a day can only bring out the best in each of us, in spite of our differences. Not even the great day of Christmas can lay claim to that.

And that is why Santa loves it so much. For those who take it seriously, Santa sees them being at their very best. With the right-minded participants of Thanksgiving near him, Santa is a witness to the highest standards of human kindness to human beings.

Perhaps our most recent season of tragedy will help us to look at Thanksgiving with a little more seriousness this year. It is truly too bad that such things must happen to humble us into seeing Thanksgiving for what it is. It is too bad that Thanksgiving rolls around each year and that this year, it means more. It should mean a great deal to us each year.

And if you’ve read my comments on Thanksgiving this far, it means the letters from wackos I will be receiving this year will be way down. And that’s just one more thing to be grateful for.

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