A Modern Christmas Story

Santa Claus gathered his dozen or so elves together late one Friday afternoon and said, “No need to come to work on Monday, fellas. I won’t need you anymore.”

The shocked elves turned to each other in disbelief.

“Why not?” asked Shinny Upatree.

“Because over the weekend I shall be installing a shipment of robots. They will do your jobs faster and be so much cheaper, too. Unlike you lot, they’ll also work 24/7.”

The elves protested, but to no avail, and they trooped out of the workshop despondently.

Outside, the reindeer were grazing. Dasher looked up and, seeing how depressed they looked, asked what the problem was. When they told him, he said, “So what are you going to do?”

“What can we do? Toy making is all we know.”

“That sucks.”

The elves began to troop off, when Shinny said, “Hold it! We may be powerless on our own, but…”

“But what?” asked Dasher.

“If you were to help us by refusing to work unless we got our jobs back…”

The other reindeer had been following the exchange intently, but when Dasher turned to consult them, they suddenly developed an interest in the grass on the other side of the paddock and shifted away.

“There’s your answer, I’m afraid. Sorry, Shinny, I wish we could help, but you know how it is…”

And so the elves went home to tell their families the devastating news.


A few weeks later, Santa called his reindeer together.

“I don’t need you to pull my sleigh this year. I’ve found a better solution,” he announced. “I’m taking delivery of a brand new sleigh, the Tesla Zipper Model K, the fastest sleigh in the world.”

The animals were stunned. Not needed! How could that be?

Comet said, “Wait a moment, you’ll still need us to pull it.”

“No, I won’t. This sleigh is fuelled by powerful electric batteries.”

“What about Rudolph? You’ll need him to guide your new sleigh.”

“Rudolph has been superseded. The Model K has the latest GPS. All the toys will be delivered just as before.”

Santa walked off, leaving them to digest the depressing news.

“We should have stood by the elves,” said Dancer. “Now we’re all in the same boat.”

Prancer pawed at the ground. “We can’t let Santa get away with this. First the elves, and now us.”

Dancer agreed. “Let’s talk to the elves and try to come up with a strategy.”


Towards midnight on Christmas Eve, the elves and the reindeer watched silently as the robots loaded the last of the toys onto the Zipper Model K. Then Santa appeared and waddled – for he had recently put on a lot of weight – towards the sleigh and climbed in. With a “Ho, ho, ho”, he started the ignition. A moment later, the craft took to the skies at a dazzling speed and was soon lost in the gloom.

The elves moved to the workshop, led by Bushy Evergreen, the elves’ technical expert.

They lined up all the robots while Bushy went into Santa’s office. When he came out, he was carrying an operating manual and a small keyboard.

For each robot, he changed the program code so that it acted randomly. For example, it might put empty boxes on the conveyor belt, say, or put the toys together haphazardly, with arms where legs should be, and so on.

When he was finished, the other elves clapped him on the back, and they left the premises with Bushy proudly waving the manual and keyboard above his head for the benefit of the watching reindeer.

“Did you get the Tesla manual, too?” asked Dasher.

Bushy pulled a booklet out of his back pocket. “Sure did!”

Then they all went home to await Santa’s return.


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