This is a reprint of an article first published in 2014 in The Grape, Oberlin's best and only alternative newspaper.
Santa's whole factory is in disarray. There are thousands of elves milling around aimlessly, in a stupor of disbelief and denial. One is convinced he's in Lord of the Rings, I think that one in the corner is exclusively quoting Tony Cox from Bad Santa. And of course, there are a few hundred who are stuck in an endless loop, saying, "Harry Potter must not return to Hogwarts!" The reindeer, too, are swimming in existential crises after losing their jobs. Dasher was last spotted posing nude for Hallmark illustrators, Prancer and Dancer have a new reality show called, "Can't be Reined," Donner hasn't changed because no one remembers Donner, and Rudolph has miraculously scaled a flight command tower, striving to be an airport navigation light, though he's not even a blip on their radar. And Santa Claus has perhaps suffered the most devastating ego blow of all. He tried to deal with the pain of unemployment with an "eat, pray, love" approach, but like Tobias Funke, got rather preoccupied with the "eat" portion and has since been nursing an eggnog 24/7, secretly using drone technology to send himself hundreds of cookies per night, even delving into the fruitcake in a fit of desperation and self loathing.
What is this dystopian future, you ask? Well, Game of Drones, as I like to call it, refers to the emergences of the Amazon backed service "Prime Air," which will allow couch-ridden consumers to click and receive their orders within half an hour. What could be wrong about this service that caters to our increasing need of instant gratification and absolute lethargy? Ask mailmen, drug dealers, Dominos delivery people, and Edible Arrangements how they feel about being outsourced to a joystick controlled mini machine. It is no wonder that the mailman of our collective imaginations, Santa, has struggled to cope with the reality that he is no longer the most efficient vessel in which to spread yuletide joy.
In a world of drone delivery systems, an unemployed and underappreciated Santa listens to Adele, weeps, leans his head against the window of the toy factory and wistfully fazes out on the North Pole tundra. While he could easily spiral further into his eggnog and cookie abyss (gateway drugs), thankfully Donner arrived in the (St.) Nick of time. Donner returned to the factory to find a desolate, lone Santa, collapsed in a puddle of of half-assembled plush toys. Donner nudged Santa with his ordinary nose, to which Santa asked, "Who are you?" Donner fed him shortbread and water until he was coherent, his eyes becoming less glassy. With a renewed focus, he looked up at Donner and asked, "Who are you?" But even though Santa couldn't, for he never could, recognize Donner, he was touched that someone still cared about him.
Since Donner's "intervention" Santa has been getting his life back in order. A small bird (a partridge, sans pears) told me he's been taking time to explore the possible business ventures he could pursue. Perhaps he'll publish one of the many autobiographies he's been working on, such as "Down the Chimney: A Tell All" or, with his recent health kick, "Farm to Table Christmas." How about the all spokesperson roles he's been offered? He's seriously considering being the face of the "Space Bag" enterprise, where he'll host a two hour QVC special titled, "Organization for Dummies: How I fit the World's Presents in One Bag." On the other hand, he's always wanted to be a part of the facial hair competition circuit, where he's a shoe-in for the "Full Beard" section.
So this holiday season, remember the good old days. Fondly recount waiting for a sleigh to inexplicably fly through the night sky. Remember the excitement surrounding a stranger wedged in your chimney, with hopes of engaging in hostile cookie negotiations. Take a hint from Phil Collins and know that you too can feel it coming in the air tonight. Just know that what's in the air isn't a flock of reindeer, but a fleet of drones, with tinsel-tied presents dangling from their metallic claws.
'Tis the season!