What do kids write to Santa when they aren’t sharing their Christmas wishes? Well, they ask Santa for a job.
We’re not sure who puts them up to it. But it is a question that perplexes even the most brilliant elves at the North Pole (that would be me…oh, and Santa, of course).
We have to ask ourselves: why would a kid want to be an elf?
But a lot of them do. It is the most regular question we get at the North Pole when it isn’t Christmas. Santa, how can I become an elf?
Let me tell you something: if there is any job an elf wants it is to be a kid. After all, we see the world of kids far better than kids see the world of elves. Kids live with skateboards and dolls and farp and video games and twinkies. Elves live with countdown clocks, quotas and one big hairy deadline every year.
Why would a kid want to trade being a kid for being an elf?
I’ve never understood the appeal of becoming an elf. Of course, I’ve done it for years and have known no other life. But everywhere I go — except at the North Pole — I’m a rock star. Just because I’m an elf.
“Oooooooooohhh,” people will say. “You work for Santa! You work at the North Pole! Wow, the perfect job.”
How would they know? Do they even have a clue what an elf does?
Take, for example, the elves working Santa’s Stables. That’s where all the girls who write to the North Pole want to work as an elf. They think the reindeer are cute.
Reindeer aren’t cute. They poop. Anything that poops isn’t cute.
Any kid who gets a puppy for Christmas learns that lesson by New Years. Being an elf in Santa’s Stables literally stinks. Reindeer are messy and they are nervous. Have you ever been around a nervous animal? It is a little scary.
When a reindeer is young they don’t know what to be afraid of. So they are afraid of everything. That means you can’t make any sudden moves around them. No loud noises either. Everything has to be really, really calm. If it isn’t, they go crazy and kind of bounce off the walls. Especially when they learn to fly when they are young. A bug could come into the barn and the next thing you know there are a dozen reindeer circling the ceiling looking for a way out.
I recall one time I was visiting with Elf Victor while he was observing some baby reindeer. I accidentally sneezed because baby reindeer are kind of fuzzy and it tickled my nose. But when I sneezed it scared all the babies and they all started crying. At once. All 478 of them. All that baby reindeer fuss made me really nervous too. It is not good to be afraid to sneeze.
So, you see, an elf’s life is not easy.
Take, for example, an elf working in Santa’s workshop. Think about that place. What a stink pit. The place has tools and sawdust and hammering and melting plastic and all manner of noise going on — all the time. There is no stopping. If one elf takes a break another elf slips in behind him to take his place. They have to do it that way or else all the toys don’t get made.
Just as an experiment I worked in Santa’s workshop for a whole day last Christmas. It was two days before Christmas and they needed help so I showed up in my toolbelt and went to work. My job was to put heads on the dolls. (Hey, someone has to do it).
It was a terrifying experience. I would pick up a doll head and stuff the head backwards onto the neck and then twist it into place. Each time I would wring one of those little necks these big open eyes would greet me. It made me feel like a terrorist.
So, you see, there’s nothing glamorous about being an elf.
Well, except for one thing.
And it is the same thing that makes a fireman like his job. Or a nurse. Or a really good school teacher. Or anyone where something good comes from their effort. At the end of the day, no matter what kind of elf job we have, we feel good because we’re doing something good.
But you don’t have to be an elf working for Santa at the North Pole to feel that way. There are lots of jobs that accomplish that. So I guess it is safe to say that I’m still perplexed – why would a kid want to be an elf?
I decided to take the question to Santa himself, to ask him why kids want to be elves. Santa took one look at me and laughed. “Ed,” he said, “Do you like your job?”
“Of course,” I said.
“No, Ed,” Santa chided me. “Could you really see yourself working everyday doing something else?”
“Like what?” I asked.
“Well,” Santa said. “How about fixing cars?”
“Heavens no” I said.
“How about driving a snow plow?” he asked.
“No” I said.
“What about being a baseball player or a singer or a rock star?” Santa asked.
“No way,” I said.
I thought about it. “Those things just don’t sound interesting to me, Santa.”
“That’s right,” Santa said. “Now, if you’re a kid and you like being a kid, who has the best job in the world? Someone like me, who wears a red suit year round and travels all over the place…or someone like you who makes toys, lives at the North Pole and gets to work for Santa Claus?”
I think I’m starting to understand a little. Santa says a kid wants to be an elf because it allows a kid to remain a kid. I’m not sure I understand that idea. But I do know this:
Elves wear itchy underwear. We have to. And there isn’t a kid anywhere who wants to do that.