From time to time I have the opportunity to interview some of the more interesting people from around the world. Given that it’s Christmas, I am especially thrilled to be able to interview Santa Claus. While I can’t divulge details, I can say that I was taken to Santa’s “workshop.” In truth it is far more of a modern, high efficiency factory, heavily automated and computer driven.
“Santa, it’s so kind of you to take time to talk with me at such a busy time of year.”
Well, I’m really not taking time. As you can see, I’m still working, but after doing this for so many years, talking and working at the same time is hardly a challenge.
“In any case, I appreciate it. I see that most manufacturing up here is automated. I always thought that it was the elves who made the toys.”
That was fine when the world was not so densely populated, but these days we have to use every modern tool in order to keep on top of things. Most of the elves are into design or research and development. One elf with a reasonable CAD/CAM system can design, test and finalize 20 or 30 different toys per year. This includes everything from the original idea, through assembly and packaging. Besides, after a while hand-painting dolls gets a little old, so they’re much happier.
“This has to be an extremely expensive operation. How are you able to pay for all the Christmas presents for all the children?”
We actually don’t pay for all the presents. You look at the average Christmas morning and parents buy their kids the bulk of the presents, with Santa making up the rest. For the less fortunate children the Marine Corps “Toys for Tots” and other groups are a lifesaver. However there are still a lot of gifts that we handle.
Years ago we were able to operate using loose change dropped under couch cushions and money people let in old purses or pockets. You add that up throughout the world and it really adds up. The elves were quite good at locating that kind of funding. However, it doesn’t make sense to let this factory sit idle for over half the year, so we keep it running making a variety of other products that are sold through regular retail chains and on the internet.
“Santa, that sounds like good business, but how do you get your products from here to the retailers?”
Mainly by shipping through China. We stamp “Made in China” on the bottom, load it into shipping containers and then get it on ships going to America, Europe or wherever. The Chinese get a handling fee, of course, plus our products help them in earning a reputation for quality. When someone in China cuts corners or uses lead based paint, they not only bring Chinese manufacturing bad publicity, but the leaders know it could lead to us taking our shipping elsewhere. India would love to take it over, and I get a call from Brazil at least once a week. For now, though almost everything goes through China January through September.
“Is it profitable to do that?”
Absolutely! Elf labor is absolutely free. When you’re seven or eight hundred years old, you probably already have owned anything and everything you could ever dream of. Besides, if one of us thinks of something we really want, we just whip it up in the factory. Outside the factory are the living areas, so eating and sleeping is covered. Given the travel we do on Christmas Eve, no one wants to travel for pleasure. The expensive part is raw materials, but the containers of toys and other goods we send through China come back filled with wood, metal, plastic, electronics and whatever else we need. We’ve even got a nice little nest egg tucked away should we need it.
“What about the actual delivery system. How are you able to get all the toys and gifts delivered in one night?”
Everyone pitches in on delivery. You think FedEx or UPS is impressive? You’ve never seen elves on a mission. Everything is bar coded, scanned and routed automatically ready for loading on one of the sleighs. Year ago we figured out that we could set the sleighs up so that the sleigh driver would look just like me. Each elf takes a sleigh to his route so we can divide and conquer. We work east to west to take advantage of the different time zones. Needless to say, we’ve pretty much got it down to a science.
“Why is it that people don’t see your sleigh in the sky?”
What? You think you folks invented stealth technology? On Christmas Eve I could be six inches away from you and you wouldn’t know I was there. Well there was one time that I ate roasted garlic before leaving, but that’s another story.
“Like you said, you’ve been doing this for a while.”
A l-o-n-g while!
“So what do you do when you finish the deliveries? Do you just fall into bed? Do you chill for the rest of the day?”
Ho! Ho! Ho!
You forget that Santa Claus means SAINT Nicholas! On Christmas morning the elves and I go to church and celebrate. We kneel down and thank God for Jesus’ coming. We thank Him for giving us a reason to celebrate this holiday and we thank Him for the reason we get to make all the children so happy!
Merry Christmas and Peace on Earth to People of Good Will!