Sub's Christmas party once again had the great honor of hosting probably the most celebrated guest of the oh-so-festive Yuletide. Santa Claus had come to town, a month early I might add, and once again opened his gift-sack for the philologists in need. This year, however, it was time for him to pass the torch. Better Than Sliced Bread took the chance to exclusively interview Santa on the dark, but cozy, November night. Santa has already graced the Sub Christmas Parties for twenty long years, but says that it has always been a pleasure and taking time off from his schedule has been easy. After the opening of the Nort Pole branch, the workload has been lighter and Korvatunturi's never been too far away from Sub.
Despite the eternal demand for gifts, the global financial crisis has taken its toll on Santa's business. Mrs. Claus has given him a hard time, as the elves are wont to go on strike and the elderly couple have had to do most of the shipping preparations by themselves this year. Luckily, North Pole is usually outside the turmoils of the financial world and Korvatunturi has so far shared Finland's triple-A rating. Still anything can happen, Santa admits. For him, the euro is the better choice for the gift-giving business and he, unlike elderly elves V. Äyrynen and S. Oini, does not remember fondly the days of the Finnish Mark.
When asked for advice to the English students for years to come, Santa grows ponderous. After deliberation, he stresses the importance of consistency. Teachers should encourage early on the students' choice between American and British English – to him this is as important a difference as that between Santa Claus and Father Christmas.
Santa will not elaborate on the subject of competitors, saying only that Santa's the one who is fat and jolly. He has never personally met Father Christmas, but adds, on a quaintly philosophical note, that they both have their nativitanal niches to occupy.
On the subject of changes in human history, Santa has a lot to say. According to him, things have gone forward during his multi-millenial lifetime. He praises technological advancements, but admits that the pace can be challenging. Personally, he was appalled that the obituary comic of Steve Jobs at the gates of Heaven had St. Peter the first iPad even though number two had long before been available!
Businesswise, advances in technology have had an effect even on Korvatunturi. Elf work schedules and inventories are easier to manage, but the realities of today's children have had their share of adding to Santa's worries – according to him, their wishes are sometimes near impossible to fulfill.
Finally, BTSB asked if Santa had any last greetings for English students and Sub at the end of his awe-inspiring term. ”Sub will find somebody,” he says with a smirk and adds that the prospect of a woman Santa should be taken seriously. We come to the agreement that humanism, after all, is all about breaking boundaries. And who'd break more boundaries (of space and time, for instance) than dear old Santa Claus.
For Better Than Sliced Bread, Esko Suoranta
“A Final Visit From Saint Nicholas” Printed with Santa's permission and wished by all BTSB not to ever become reality.
'Twas the night before Christmas and one thing was clear that old Yuletide spirit no longer was here inflation was rising; the crime rate was tripling; the euro in crisis; and our duties were crippling;
I opened a beer as I watched the TV, with Calton and crew singing “Star Boys” off key; the kids were in bed, getting sleep like they should; or else they were stoned, which was almost as good.
While Ma with her ball-point was making a fuss 'bout folks we'd send cards to who'd sent none to us; “Those ingrates,” she thundered, and pounded her fist; “Next year you can bet they'll be crossed off our list!”
When out in the yard came a deafening blare; 'twas our burglar alarm, and I hollered, “Who's there?” I turned on the searchlight, which lit up the night, and, arned with my handgun, beheld a strange sight.
Some red-suited clown with a white beard immense was caught in our eight foot electrified fence; he called out, “I'm Santa! I bring you no malice!” Said I, “if you're Santa, I'm Telly Savalas!”
But, lo, as his presence grew clearer to me, I saw in the glare that it just might be he! I called off our doberman clawing his sleigh and, frisking him twise, said, “I think he's OK.”
I led him inside where he slumped in a chair, and he poured out the following tale of dispair; “On Christmas eves past I was jolly and chuckling, but now 'neath the pressures, I fear I am buckling.”
“You'll note I've arrived with no reindeer this year, and without them, my sleigh is much harder to steer; although I would like to continue to use them, the wildlife officials are convinced I abuse them.”
“To add to my woes, vehicle inspection dropped by and told me my sleigh was unsafe in the sky; I now must wear seatbelts, despite my objections, and bring in the sleigh twice a year for inspections.”
“Last April my workers came forth with demands, and I soon had a general strike on my hands; I couldn't afford to pay unionized elves, so the missus and I did the work all ourselves.”
“And then, later on, came additional trouble – an avalance left my fine workshop in rubble; my no-risk insurance was worthless, because they had shrewdly slipped in a 'no avalance' clause.”
“And after that came the taxman to audit; the government claimed I was out to defraud it; they finally nailed me for six hundred grand, which I paid through the sale of my house an my land.”
“And yet I persist, though it gives me a scare flying blind through the blanket of smog in the air: not to mention the hunters who fill me with dread, taking shots at my sleigh as I pass overhead.”
“My torn-up red suit, and these bruise and swellings, I got fighting off muggers in multiple dwellings. And if you should ask, why I'm glowing tonight, it's from flying too close to a nuclear site.”
He rose from his chair and he heaved a great sigh, and I couldn't help notice a tear in his eye; “I've tried,” he declared, “to reverse each defeat, but I fear that today I've become obsolete.”
He slumped out the door and returned to his sleigh, and these last words he spoke as he went on his way; “no longer can I do the job that's required; if anyone asks, just say, 'Santa's retired!'”