A message from Santa Claus

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To the child of this house,

It is with great sadness that I have been forced to cancel your Christmas delivery.

After a lengthy review of our financial circumstances, and with a view to ensuring the sustainability of Christmas going forward, Mrs Claus and I have decided that you shall have no presents this year.

Please be comforted to know that our decision was not made because you were naughty. On the contrary, the reports reaching us here at the North Pole indicate that your behaviour this year has been irreproachable.

But these are difficult times, and sacrifices need to be made. That means no presents for you this year.

We didn’t make this decision without considerable soul-searching, and we looked closely at a number of options, including making Christmas user-pays for all children. Our chief accountant has long argued that if children wish Father Christmas to visit their house, then they ought to pay for the privilege.

However, we have decided for the time being not to charge for Christmas. Instead, we have decided on a targeted approach towards the giving of gifts. The upshot of this is that your family won’t be receiving any Christmas cheer this year.

I’m sure you’ll have a number of questions for me about this decision, so please allow me to explain how I decided who will receive gifts this year and who won’t.

Following a lengthy period of consultation with officials from the North Pole’s Treasury Department, we commissioned a working group earlier this year to investigate how Christmas could be made more sustainable. The findings of the working group established that children from poorer households tended to cope better than those from wealthy homes when Christmas presents were withheld. The research clearly shows that poor children are more accustomed to going without, and so are able to adjust more quickly to deprivation than their richer counterparts.

It is for this reason that we have decided that the only children getting presents this year are the rich ones.

I’m sure that this will seem unfair to you, especially on top of the cancer diagnosis your sister recently received. And I have seen the way your stepfather comes home drunk and violent most nights, and how most of your family’s meagre resources are squandered by your mother at Sky City. It’s a pity that you can no longer look forward to at least one day of the year not being filled with misery, but in your short life you have learned to cope with disappointment and despair, so I have no doubt that you will manage somehow.

Consider in contrast what would happen if little Giles didn’t get that new iPad or Xbox. He would be heartbroken, because for the first time in his life he wouldn’t get what he wanted. The confusion would be too much for the poor lad, and he would be inconsolable.

Obviously, we would like to think that in a few years we will be in a position to review our decision, with a view to reinstating Christmas for all children. But I don’t want to give anyone false hopes. It costs a huge amount of money to put Christmas on each year, and the labour costs alone are astronomical. You may think that those cute elves toil for the sheer love of Father Christmas, but that could not be further from the truth. Our workers have become unreasonable in their wage demands, to the point where we have found it cheaper to outsource most of our manufacturing to China.

Moreover, our income has barely kept up with expenditure, which is why we are making cutbacks this year, and we don’t expect any immediate turnaround in our financial performance within the next three years. We invested very heavily in the US derivatives market and were completely wiped out when the crash happened in 2008, so we have a long way to go before our books are back in the black.

So please be assured that, while your Christmas may well be a miserable one, in one household at least there will be great joy. Little Giles will get his iPad and Xbox, and a new bike and skateboard, and for at least a short period of time in that boy’s life (before he grows bored of his things and throws a tantrum) he will be happy. Whereas your misery at getting nothing will be short-lived, because it will be replaced with the misery of knowing that Dad is drunk and is going to take the belt to you.

You seem like a smart child, and I’m sure you will understand why we have chosen to miss you out this year. But the sacrifice you and others make will ensure that Christmas remains on the calendar for at least some of the world’s children. And that should fill you with abundant festive cheer.

Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas!

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