Santa Claus Doesn’t Feel Like It

“Mr. Claus. Santa Claus, Santa. Nick?” the receptionist whispered into the man’s ear, gently waking him up. “You’re next,” she added. 

“Did I fall asleep?” the large man said with a grunt. It wasn’t a question. 

He got up from the armchair with considerable difficulty. He straightened his beard with his hand, got a good grip on his large belt and pulled up his pants. Then he opened the door to the office.

“Welcome, and … merry Christmas!” said the man sitting in a large leather armchair. He had a salt-and-pepper hair, and he was wearing dark glasses, a moss green sweater, and cappuccino coloured corduroy pants. 

“Please, Doc, don’t even mention that word. You know that’s why I’m here,” said Santa, and lay on the couch without saying another word.

“That’s right, my apologies. Old habits die hard. Please, take off your coat, you can hang it over there, and lay down on the sofa. Oh, you’re already there,” Doc said. 

Doc’s name was Robert Schwartz, and he wished Santa Claus would call him Bobby, not Doc, but he didn’t want to say anything to him. If Santa wanted to call him Doc, then Doc it was. 

“OK, I’ll grab my journal. What seems to be troubling you?”

“Besides the usual work-related stress?”

“Besides that.”

“You know, Doc, this is the first time in a long time that I’m handing out more coal than presents.”

“You mean there are more naughty than nice people?”

“That’s right, Doc.”

“And how does that make you feel?”

“Not great.”

“Are you sure people aren’t just wishing for coal because of the energy bills? Coal is probably a popular present this year.”

“Still. Is that smart. It’s December 23, and we still don’t have snow at the Korvatunturi. We should have loads of it.”

“I thought you lived at the North Pole.”

“I know. A lot of people do, but I live in Finland. That’s beside the point, though. It’s the first time I’ve felt like this. I feel like I never should’ve taken the job all those years ago.”

“Take the job?”

“It sounded so … glamorous. See the world, they said. Everybody will be excited to see me, even leave me gifts. And I’d have a great place up north where nobody could find me. A staff that would obey my every word. Long life expectancy. And great hours!”

“But, who gave you the job?”

“The previous guy.”

“The previous guy? Are you telling me Santa Claus is like Doctor Who?”

“Or The Phantom or the The Dread Pirate Roberts from The Princess Bride, but the same general idea. I was chosen to carry the torch, so to speak.”

“And now you can’t leave? Why would you want to? You do see the world, and you do have a great staff, right?”

“Been there, done that, Doc. Been there, done that. When I took the job, as a young…er man, it was exciting. Every August, I began to count down the days to Christmas, then every September, then October. This year, I can’t wait for Dec 26 to roll around.”

“I see. Have you ever considered that maybe you have bi-polar tendencies? No pun intended.”

“That would’ve been a really neat pun, Doc, had I lived at the North Pole. And no, I haven’t. I’m just tired. So tired.”

“How long have you been doing it?”

“180 years.”

Robert Schwartz stopped writing. He took off his glasses, and wiped them clean. 

“That’s a long time.”

“Tell me about it, Doc.”

“And this is the first time you’re feeling this stress?”

“That’s right.”

“Maybe you need some time off?”

“Maybe. Although, I already take most of the first six months off.”

Robert Schwartz took off his glasses again. He leaned back in his chair and stared at the ceiling. He had worked with world-class athletes and Wall Street brokers – people in high-stress environments but this was new territory for him. 

“I’d like to be the best Santa there ever was, but I’m beginning to think I’m not cut out for the job. It seems pointless. Nothing I do matters,” Santa continued.

“That’s not true, and I know it for a fact. My kids wait for you. Right now.”

“With all due respect, kids aren’t the problem, even though Anna and Hanna are right at the top of my nice list. It’s the adults that get me down. They don’t care about Christmas anymore. They wouldn’t even notice if stayed away one year.”

“And how does that make you feel?”

“Pretty fucking bad, Doc. Sorry, I didn’t mean to swear. I makes me sad, and worried. Anxious.”

Roberts Schwartz picked up his journal from the floor. The shock of hearing Santa curse had made him throw it up in the air. 

“What I hear is that you feel you’re not appreciated. That you don’t matter,” he then said in a surprisingly calm voice. 

“Yeah,” Santa said, and sighed.

Robert Schwartz stroke his goatee for a while, deep in thought.

 “Can you give me something for it? A drug?”

“Have you ever watched It’s A Wonderful Life? It’s a movie about George Bailey who feels the same way when he gets a chance to see what the world would look like without him. And he realizes that he does matter. We all matter in our own way. You have your elves and the billions of people who expect to get a visit from you once a year.”

“I have been thinking of increasing the number of visits. Expand the brand. If Santa came twice, of three times a year, maybe people would appreciate him more,” Santa said. 

He was quiet for a while. 

“You wouldn’t want to take the job?”

“The job? Me? Become Santa Claus?” Schwartz said.

“Why not? You can see the world, everybody will be excited to see you, they’ll even leave you gifts. And you’ll have a great place up north where nobody can find you. A staff that obeys you every word. Long life expectancy,” Santa said. 

“I don’t think I’m the right person. I’m sorry. I think you’re perfect.”

“You think so?”

“Absolutely. Even the naughty people want to see you, I’m sure. And you know what? For that short moment, they’re not naughty. They want to be nice. So there’s hope. But without you, there’s no hope.”

“You think?”

“I know it!”

“Fine, I’ll do it.”

“That’s better but … say it like you mean it!”

“FINE! I’LL DO IT!” Santa said and slapped his hands together.

“Do what?”

“I’ll deliver presents to children of all ages around the world. Of all ages,” Santa said, and winked. 

“And how does that make you feel?”

“Pretty good. But now, I have to run. Merry Christmas, Bobby. And thanks.”

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