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21 November 2012 It is announced today from the North Pole that Mrs. Santa (Jane Evelyn Fey) Claus, wife of Mr. Santa M.P. Claus, has died of cancer. In lieu of flowers donations are requested to the following charities, of which she was an active patron: The North Pole Infertility Support Group; The North Pole Podiatry Benevolence Fund, The North Pole Toy Workers Amalgamated Local 413 Benevolence Fund, the Red Nose Games and the Mrs. Claus Cooke Day Appeal.
In his grief over the loss of his dearly beloved wife, Santa, turned over much of the day-to-day running of the entire Christmas industry to a consultant who came highly recommended in spite of her youth. Bill Gates said great things about her, but so too did the successor head of Mother Theresa’s orphanage. Her credentials were impressive, too. Even better, the Union liked the sound of her as well. A Rhodes Scholar with an impressive track-record of corporate turn-arounds to her name, Consultant Alisha A. Midwinter arrived at a North Pole stuck in the past.
Though beloved by the Santa, the elves and, well, everyone at the North Pole including the cashiers at the Mini-mart who are notoriously hard to impress, the late Jane Claus was a hide-bound traditionalist. Oh, she’d given in during the early buzz years and put some of the systems on computers, but the elves were still trying to do international accounting on the original version of Lotus 1-2-3.
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And while they were grateful for her insistence on free podiatrist-fitted elf shoes, the health plan was very old school and deductibles had sky-rocketed with the aging elf population’s health needs. She’d also scoffed at the lead paint thing as “junk science.” A class action suit was brewing though she’d finally agreed to phase out the paint on all toys in the 1970s, it was still used in buildings since there was such a stockpile. Wages were stagnant and had not kept up with the Pole’s rather high cost-of-living.
These, along with Jane’s refusal to allow 5 Guys and Starbucks to open at the North Pole, were among the things that compelled Wendy Claus, Santa’s sister and Operations Manager for the enterprise, to finally agree in early 2014, to a consultant to reevaluate the entire enterprise like the Union had been wanting since the early 1990s. She did not, however, recon on the consultant being trim, fit, lovely Alisha A. Midwinter.
Santa himself, wallowing in “meh” and grief, figured some jazzy 90’s Godon Gekko-wanna be Arthur Andersen type would show up in a posh suit, brandishing an iPad and get on with things. He only “just” allowed himself to be dragged out to first meeting.
When it comes to Santa, one thing most people don’t know is that the fat-thing is fake. The chubby cheeks are done by a professional make-up artists and the suit is padded pretty much everywhere. Santa, having had a coronary in the 1970s, is fit as a fiddle today. Cross-country skiing is a passion of his. He watches ski-tv almost obsessively in fact. That and CNN. He’s a news junkie from long-back.
So when he stepped into the board room at North Pole HQ that day and saw none other than Alisha A. “Astrid” Midwinter in the flesh….. Astric Midwinter, Olympic bronze medalist in cross-country skiing. His heart missed several beats in the best possible way. He also soon wished he was wearing all that padding to hide another automatic reaction.
Wendy saw it all and instantly disapproved. She’d been trying to interest her big brother in her friend, Sky, who was recently widowed with two kids who needed a good step-dad. Wendy was sure that Santa and Sky were meant for each other. Santa? Not so much, though they’d done dinner at the Melting Pot to please Wendy. They’d also gone to that simulcast Keith Urban concert. Santa prefers jazz. Stan Kenton and other old school jazz to be exact.
For Santa it was love at first sight, for Astrid her first thought was “Damn, Santa is buff.” Astrid presented the perfect professional image: well toned, long-legs in sleek boots and classic cabled tights, a skirt just long enough to be counted “professional” in appearance, a touch of lace at her neck and a jacked perfectly tailored to showcase all her best, if not overly-large, assets. Her Fitbit, Santa noticed, was top-of-the-line–the sort so back-ordered he dreaded requests for it. It was also exactly like his.
Over the next several months, Santa roared back to life. He didn’t accept all of Astrid’s professional recommendations, but the Union was more than satisfied. Apple, at last, became the computer of choice for the design teams. Yoga pants were approved for Fridays and Five Guys was welcomed. Santa agreed with his late wife, though, on Starbucks. He drinks Folgers decaf and saw no reason to get the Pole residents addicted to fancy-schmancy coffee from an International Conglomerate. He did, however, approve a local version and allow a drive-thu. Peace reigned.
The first evening of Astrid’s stay included dinner with Santa, Wendy, the head of the Union, the Toy Shop Steward, the head of Design and the coordinator of the annual All Pole Reindeer Games. Santa switched the place cards so that Astrid was on his right and a toy salesman from Bangladesh with no hope of a contract was on his left. He made sure never to switch the conversation to his left, forcing the whole table to talk only to their neighbor on their right.
Over the course of that dinner, in which Santa totally ignored most business topics, he and Astrid established that they had enough in common to proceed with a date. Santa knew this was risky–it could certainly affect both the stock price and the IPO for the spin off–ClawZc (pronounced Clause-C), an edgy Christmas gift boutique store doing record-breaking business in Milan, Berlin, Seattle and other centers of hipster-cool. So he forced Wendy, a few Senior Elves and their wives to go along on all the early dates. Wendy was not happy.
The first night out the group closed the Melting Pot and went on to Hermie’s for live jazz and Candy Cane Cocktails. The “gang” as they became known were soon regulars at Hermie’s and always the couple danced to And Her Tears Flowed Like Wine and then jived to Peanut Vendor. When Astrid confessed a fondness for Glen Miller, Santa gave her a String of Pearls and arranged an all Glen-night at their “place.” Wendy was now very angry.
Santa had Market Place Morning Report on the radio as he got dressed each morning and had his cup of hot water and lemon–the start of his hydration routine for cross-country skiing. Astrid confessed to using the same start, helping Santa to just “know” that, at last, he’d found Mrs. Claus Two, if only they could wind up the consulting project. “Trouble at the Pole, next on Market Place,” slammed into Santa’s consciousness as he applied beard softener and was mentally organizing his day.
“Christmas is expensive–all parents know that. However, the cost of producing Christmas is about to sky-rocket. Marketplace’s Olivia White-Snow reports.”
“Hear the words ‘North Pole’ and we instantly think Christmas. The Pole is undergoing a shake-up as well as a shake-down. Business strategist Alisha A. “Astrid” Midwinter (yes, that’s right –they Olympic skiier!) arrived at the North Pole some weeks ago. Today we’ve learned that her recommendations for North Pole, Inc., the conglomerate the oversees all aspects of Christmas production, include a leaner, better educated workforce, a complete overhaul of both technology and accounting practices as well as an IPO for not only the mega-popular ClawZc, but also for the renowned Peppermint Stick Pot-Pori line–that Christmas icon and, get this, for Sleigh Bells Ringing gift delivery service–the year round gift delivery service few knew was actually a privately held part of North Pole.
“Her stunning recommendations were delivered to a speechless shareholders meeting earlier today. Stock prices soared upon news of the approval of the majority of her recommendations. NP rejected a recommendation to off-shore the most basic aspects of toy assembly as well as spinning off yet another unnamed subsidiary. Complicating the picture, though, is the report on Wikileaks today that Mr. Claus is set to remarry–his late wife, philanthropist Jane Claus, died of cancer in 2012. Why would this affect NP stock prices? The bride-to-be is reported to be none other than Astrid Midwinter!”
Santa snapped off the the steaming on his iPad and roared down his mobile at Wendy. It was only a few hours later that a London Red Tab showed blurry photos supposedly of Santa and Astrid working out with Prince Harry and JayZ at the Harbour Club. The next day, Lifetime inked a deal to do a bio-pic of the couple. Love Rat James Hughes gave an exclusive interview to Entertainment Excitement! on how Astrid had suddenly and very coldly refused his calls one day while he was with his regiment in Afghanistan.
Worse came that night when Sky was interviewed on Across the Pole on the local cable station, telling how Santa loved to binge on her Chicken-Bacon-Ranch casserole. She sobbed, unable to finish, then added “while watching SKI TV…” more sobs, “with my children who’d come to think of him as “Daddy.”
While the Ashley Mason account rumor was flatly denied by all sides, it did keep Santa’s mind off the final events of the Pole’s annual Red-Nose Games for special needs reindeer–a charity Jane had so loved. He was angry that such a tasteless charge would besmirch Jane’s memory or that it could potentially damage the wonderful reputation of the games. Nonetheless, he was determined to marry Astrid.
He knew she had the very same qualities he had loved in Jane–steadfastness, intelligence and a mighty twinkle in her eye. He wasn’t overly worried about the age difference–that was a problem for others to deal with, not for the two of them to worry over. He proposed in swim trunks over Skim- Brandy Alexanders in the hot tub and was accepted immediately.
Finally after drama that lasted longer than Mr. Bates’ prison term, Wendy and Sky both issued retractions. The Board and the Union both heartily endorsed the union. The wedding invitations read like a merger proposal. Stella McCartney–a favorite of ClawZc fans–created the fabulous wedding gown and the edgy bridesmaid’s dresses. Sky’s daughter, Bright, was the show-stealer, twirling her large candy cane like a baton as she walked down the aisle being her three-year-old self. Sky’s son Elfis, handed off the emerald and ruby stripped rings like a boss. Supplies of hastily copied ring knock-offs sold out in minutes. The international ornamental flower market fell to record low levels of sale as brides chose candy canes in their signature colors instead.
After a cross-country skiing and hot-tubbing honeymoon in Iceland, the new Mr. and Mrs. Claus spent their first year working at side-by-side desks and doing daily cross-training together. Finally, that elusive gift, the gift Jane had been so willing, but unable to give, arrived. Twins, whom they named, for no apparent reason, Gabrielle and Jacques. Their first appearance, on December 1, 2015, was a world-wide media sensation. The adorable little elf sleepers they wore broke all records for baby clothes sales in sizes Premie to 18 Months.
The elderly woman who hand-quilted their adorable reindeer quilts was contacted by Kate seeking matching ones for George and Charlotte as well as by Kanye wanting to surprise Kim with a pair for North and Saint. Astrid and the pole’s white boot law firm, Claus , Christmas and Night LP, helped her go public and Pole Quilts had one of the best textile IPOs in history. After it was announced that a major Syrian refugee camp would receive special quilts, albeit machine-quilted, made by the new firm for Christmas 2015 and that the firm would continue the founder’s tradition of hand-made barn-quilts for all special needs reindeer the new enterprise had even more eager investors to drive up the stock price.
Happy again, Santa got back to what he loved most–a love he and Astrid shared more than any other, even more than they loved cross-country skiing or creamy cocktails–Making Christmas Wishes Come True.
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