Santa's Whiskers

The Secret History of the North Pole

"If events in history are like so many pebbles in a pond, then I’m an avalanche." — Santa Claus

To paraphrase Shakespeare, Santa Claus “doth bestride our times like a colossus”—both literally and figuratively. No single man so dominates a season of the year (from Labor Day to Super Bowl Sunday) like he does. Disregarding what we tell our children, disregarding the two Wars of the Elves which triggered two world wars, disregarding the Great Depression (which he caused), and even disregarding the worldwide flu epidemic of 1919 (which he had nothing to do with), there still is no one who has done so much to ruin such a joyous holiday and turn it into the debt-ridden agony of materialistic overindulgence it has become. Maybe that is why we love him so much.

Geopolitics of the North Pole

The physical environment has always strongly influenced the flow of history, and the North Pole is no exception. For one thing, the North Pole’s cold climate severely reduced the need for refrigerators, which have an unfortunate tendency to fall on top of and kill people. This allowed the Eskimo population to flourish. The money saved from not buying refrigerators could be used to buy guns, a favorite Eskimo pastime, which makes them very dangerous. Also the long winter nights at the North Pole forced the Eskimos to trade light bulbs to the South Pole for extra light trapped by the Antarctic land mass during its equally long stretches of daylight. (This also accounts for the fact that light bulbs resemble penguins.)

The North Pole’s position on the International Dateline gave it Christmas twice per year (December 11 and March 3). This is appropriate since the North Pole also has most of the world’s green crude toy ore deposits. Teddy Roosevelt once described a lump of this ore as resembling “a gang of Gumby’s trapped for three hours in a microwave oven.,” a remarkable statement since he died decades before microwaves, Gumby, or even accurate time-keeping were invented. The point here is that toy ore needs to be mined and worked. Unfortunately, the one available labor source, Eskimos, refused to work in the mines, preferring either to hibernate or shoot their guns at anything that moves or snores.

During the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s when large scale toy mining and processing was taking place, the next closest source of labor for the North Pole toy mines was Canadian Elves who had formed the last wave of migrants from Siberia to America. Central Asia was their ancestral homeland, but in the late 1100s a chain reaction of events starting in Finland displaced them. Finland, of course, was the homeland of the Clowns who, contrary to popular belief, are a highly evolved subspecies of Homo Sapiens Sapiens (i.e., me). In addition to such natural features as their large red noses, shocks of brightly colored hair (to attract mates), and big floppy feet, Clowns are also endowed with brilliant minds and superhuman strength. Despite our desire to portray them as good natured and harmless circus performers, they are extremely dangerous. In 1180 their relentless leader, Jingles the Merciless (1178-1213) forcibly unified the Clowns and launched a campaign of conquest unparalleled in both its brutality and physical comedy. Using such unspeakable weapons as seltzer bottles loaded with Greek fire similar to our modern napalm), and catapults firing giant cyanide cream pies, the Clowns carved out a savage empire stretching from Finland to Vladivostok. The Empire of the Bozos (from the clown word meaning “pie throwing maniacs” even handed Genghis Khan’s Mongol Horde a humiliating defeat. The Mongols in turn crashed into the Elves, half of whom fled into Siberia, the other half to North America, where they lived peacefully until the 1800s.

Elves were well suited to toy mining for several reasons. They don’t eat much. They are small and thus easy to push around. And they have big ears that let them hear any stalking killer penguins, a particularly large and vicious type of penguin that inhabits caves, and toy mineshafts. All that was needed was someone to lead the Eskimos in raids to capture the Elves. That someone was St. Nicholas (AKA Santa Claus).

The Rise of St. Nicholas

St. Nicholas, the thirty-eighth son of an impoverished chimney sweep, was born in Norway around 1850. Large size, both in terms of numbers and bulk, was a family trait. His ancestors had been a special class of Viking berserkers (from the Clown word Bozo) who would jump on enemy ships and tip them over with their weight. How he came to be known as a saint is not completely clear, although most accounts revolve around him visiting Rome as a youth and kidnapping the Pope and forcibly extracting the honor from him.

Because of his size, Nicholas (and the rest of his family, for that matter) were ill suited for chimney sweeping, so it remains a mystery why that was traditionally the family profession. In fact, in 1877, young Nicholas got caught in a chimney, a sight that attracted a large crowd of spectators. His solution was both ingenious and lethal. By eating huge amounts of food, his body mass expanded to the point that the chimney exploded, killing 37 people in what has been known ever after as the great chimney massacre. Nicholas was committed to an insane asylum, not just for the killing, but also for thinking he could fit in a chimney in the first place. Son afterward, he jumped a guard, flattened him, and fled to the North Pole.

The Eskimos made St. Nicholas their leader after he mowed five of them down in a gunfight and promised the rest vacations in Florida. (He actually sent them to Cleveland, but they didn’t know the difference.) Then, from 1882-85 he launched a series of savage raids into Saskatchewan (“Land of the Big Ears”) where he rounded Elves for working in his toy mines. It was at this time that the Elves gave him the name Santa Claus, most likely a Cheyenne word meaning “fat man with a whip”.

The First War of the Elves (1900-01)

But a new problem arose: Canadian Elves may not eat much, but they are picky eaters who require the finest of French cuisine. With Elves dropping like flies from self-starvation, Santa launched a new set of raids, this time into Quebec to get French chefs (1889-92). Meanwhile the United States had been watching events with growing concern and in 1900 invoked the Monroe Doctrine against the “Norwegian Nemesis” as the press called Santa. (Contrary to popular belief, the Monroe Doctrine didn’t get its name from US President Monroe. Rather, it was the maiden name of Santa’ wife.) What ensued was the First War of the Elves (1900-01).

Although it seemed to most that the United States should win an easy victory, Santa’s terrible arsenal of “toys” (typically known as toys of Mass Destruction, or TMD) gave him a decisive edge. For one thing, the Eskimos had harnessed and trained killer penguins to use spiked clubs and fight in packs. In addition, there was Santa’s alliance with the Clowns who had been on the run since the breakup of the Empire of the Bozos in the 1600s. Because Santa himself was 1/16th clown, the Clowns elected him Grand High Bozo and followed him into battle with all the ferocious defiance of death known to their kind. In addition to their catapults throwing giant cyanide cream pies, and seltzer bottles that shot Greek Fire, the Clowns deployed their newly developed tiny tricycles armed with Martian death beams. Last and most decisive, was Santa’s domestication of the flying reindeer who, when hitched to the heavily armed D-1 combat and Delivery Sleigh, proved to be the ultimate weapon of the day.

Early attempts to domesticate the flying reindeer met with limited success. Elf trainers first tried to ride their backs, but were too small to see over the antlers. Next they sat on the reindeer’s head and tried to steer them using the antlers as a sort of handlebars. However, the elves’ tiny feet dangling down blinded the reindeer, causing them to crash into trees (a most puzzling phenomenon to historians, since there are no trees at the North Pole). Finally, the elves tried hitching the reindeer up to a sleigh, and the S-1 Combat and Delivery Sleigh was born. Given Santa’s weight and the heavy arsenal of toys such sleighs had to bear, teams of eight tiny reindeer had to be used for each sleigh. Although its turning radius was extremely wide, the S-1 was lightning quick (literally) and more than a match for the hydrogen-filled zeppelins the Americans used against them.

The American army marched northward, totally unaware of the disaster about to befall them. Suddenly, hundreds of Elf-driven sleighs swooped out of the skies, pouring bombs and razor sharp candy canes on the bewildered and stunned Americans. Then a merciless barrage of cyanide cream pies sent them retreating into hordes of killer penguins who had infiltrated their ranks disguised as household servants.

The First War of the Elves was such a total and unexpected defeat for the United States that American history books never mention it. However, the Americans being a resilient lot, were determined to get revenge. First they developed the airplane in 1903 to combat the flying reindeer. Then in 1914, they cleverly manipulated events in Europe to start World Wa4r I, merely as a testing ground for the airplane’s combat capabilities.

The Second War of the Elves (1927-8)

In 1926 the United States invoked a toy embargo against Santa to provoke him into war. The resulting Second War of the Elves (1927-8) reversed the decision of the first war. The airplane proved to be much more maneuverable and easier to mass-produce than the slowly reproducing flying reindeer. Fake Santa’s put in Canadian shopping malls confused the Elves and disrupted Santa’s command structure by giving absurd orders that the elves mindlessly obeyed. Finally, the Americans cleverly planted peppermint candy canes in the Elves’ rations, giving them terrible tummy aches that made them cry.

The victors forced the harsh Treaty of the Tundra on Santa in 1929. Santa could keep his toy mines and slave empire, but his air force was reduced to one sleigh and his eight smallest reindeer (a clause he flagrantly violated). He must also pay a crippling indemnity of free toys each Christmas to all the good children in the world. In the famous “Big Top Clause”, the Clowns were dispersed to circuses across the world and forced to do cruel parodies of themselves while their families were held hostage in nearby trailers. Two of these Clowns, Ronald the Ripper and Rambo MacDonald, escaped with some wild dogs from a circus in southern California and started a well known hamburger chain.

The Treaty of the Tundra had far-reaching and unforeseen effects. In order to meet his huge toy payments, Santa called in his loans from Swiss Banks, and act that reverberated across the Atlantic by triggering the Stock Market Crash and Great Depression. By 1934,, most toy mines and refineries had shut down, throwing Christmas into a crisis. Santa’s response was swift and effective. First of all, he spread rumors that he did not exist, thus pressuring parents to buy toys to keep their children happy. Secondly, he met with American business and signed the “November Contract, which established the practice of “shopping days early” starting right after Thanksgiving. These measures spurred toy sales and increased profits to vastly exceed the cost of Santa’s toy indemnity each Christmas. Santa was back in business, and the world started to emerge from the Depression.

World War II and World Domination

Then came World War II (1939-45), started by Adolf Hitler (who had been a very naughty boy, only getting coal in his stocking each Christmas). Among his victims was Santa’s native land of Norway, which caused Santa to shift from toy production to that of weapons. It was probably the most decisive development of the war and would have a profound effect on the direction of toy production after 1945.

With the war over, Santa’s profits skyrocketed to new heights. The terms of the November Contract successively expanded the Christmas season to Halloween (the October Contract in 1973), Labor Day (the September Contract in 1984) and Super Bowl Sunday (the January Contract in 1987). Negotiations are now underway to extend it further to Valentine’s Day. Much stricter behavior standards plus electronic surveillance of all homes and public buildings allowed Santa to severely restrict the number of children getting free toys and cutting into his profits. Children in communist countries were automatically excluded, largely because of Santa’s personal dislike of his distant cousin, Joseph Stalin.

In 1982, Santa moved his headquarters to Oak Brook, Illinois, next door to the headquarters of his old Clown ally and hamburger tycoon, Ronald the Ripper. Pipelines pump raw toy sludge from the North Pole to the United States where toy factories, cleverly disguised as military bases and missile silos process this sludge into toys. The leftover toy slag is processed into guacamole and sold in a popular taco chain, which Santa also owns. Distribution of toys is done by Santa Clones who undergo a rigorous program at Camp Santa outside of Birmingham, Alabama. Here they are trained in how to dress and act like Santa, use a whip and various sorts of automatic weapons, and fly the S-20, the latest version of the combat and delivery sleigh. Santa Clones have been traditionally recruited mainly from ex-convicts and the seedier elements of society. This initially created a problem of Santa Clones looting and trashing people’s homes every Christmas Eve. In 1953, the same year Stalin died, Santa signed the Tollhouse Accord whereby Santa Clones would refrain from looting any homes where there were cookies and milk left out for them.

Operating from American military bases and aircraft carriers, the corps of Santa Clones can easily deliver all their toys in one night to the estimated 280,000 good children in the world. This surprisingly low figure is the result of a loophole in the Treaty of the Tundra that allows Santa to set the standard of what constitute a good boy or girl. The specific terms of these criteria remain a highly classified state secret.

Concern about depletion of toy ore reserves led to a failed attempt at mining Martian toy ore, which unfortunately turned out to be radioactive. The movie, “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” is based on this attempt, although the only authentic footage of Santa in the film is of the battle scenes. The rest of the movie is totally ridiculous and should not be taken seriously.

Overall, the future looks bright for Santa as he maintains an iron grip on our throats and wallets. As the popular song warns:

“He’s bringing his elves 
and his S-20 Sleigh 
He’ll get you so fast 
There’s no time to pray 
Santa Claus is coming to town”

​Copyright © 2007 Chris Butler