Usually, it’s your children putting pen to paper this time of year, begging me for under-the-tree delivery of all manner of bouncy, cuddly, and flashing treasures. But something’s changed here in Christmas Town. Though the elves and I had hoped it might just be a few “off” years weather-wise, we can no longer deny it: The North Pole is melting. Our land of snowpeople, icicles, and eternal winter is turning . . . green.
At the same time, there’s been a change in your children’s requests. Their letters beseeching me for sleds, dollhouses, and, more recently, smartphones have always included heartbreakers such as, “Please, give my parents time to play with me.” But this year, I’ve been snowed by pleas to “Save polar bears!” and “Bring clean water,” and “Make the hurricanes stop!” Parents, your children are worried. Terrified, actually.
So I sent four snowy owls, three beige wrens, two little doves, and a partridge in a pear tree to investigate. They flew back today with a troubling report: The entire planet is heating up. Storms, droughts, and wildfires are more intense, and your kids are wondering why the adults aren’t fixing things.
But there was more. This was when the birds got a little shifty-eyed. They sat me down with my pipe and a stiff eggnog to break the news that, though my part is played out of love and generosity, it turns out I’m making everything worse. I—through my annual stoking of your children’s desires for new possessions—am largely responsible for the consumerism driving industry to spew ever-more carbon into our atmosphere. My actions contribute to scorching temperatures, rising seas, and acidification of the oceans. To mass extinctions. Superstorms. Famine.
I’m melting my own North Pole.
Imagine being told that you’re complicit in destroying—irrevocably—the homes, health, and happiness of the very children whose dreams you’ve dedicated your life to fulfilling. But I won’t let daunting news steal the twinkle from my eye. This emergency demands action, so today I’m announcing: No more Christmas-as-usual. To realize my dream of a snowy Christmas, I’m going “green” myself. Because your children are telling me what they really want and it’s not light-up sneakers or Xboxes.
They deeply yearn for only two things: Your love and a future. A future they can grow into with joyful anticipation, one characterized by kindness—to animals, grandmothers, the poor, kids orphaned by tsunamis, and those hungry in ravaged lands. Your children’s boundless hearts are ready to do whatever it takes to get these two simple things. Children are never confused by politics or profits because even though they lack degrees, consultants, and immortality—or maybe because of that—they just know what’s right. Their pleas are loud and clear. And I’m listening.
To slow the melting, we’ll need to end our traditional system of one-way accountability. I’ll still keep tabs on the Naughty and Nice, but everyone goes on the list now—me, you, and your governments and businesses. You’ve got some real Grinches down there who aren’t just stealing candy canes; they’re snatching your children’s futures, happy to keep your kids madly consuming while they rake in fortunes. But with my magic and your love, dear parents, we can provide your children with what they truly need.
I’ll start by reducing the volume of presents. From now on, the Nice will receive only one gift each—battery-free, Earth-friendly, and likely to fire the imagination. I’ll feature recycled toys, science kits, sidewalk chalk, and “pre-owned” costumes, books, and musical instruments. There will be more off-the-couch-and-out-the-door gifts, such as fishing poles, kites, and skateboards, all wrapped in yesterday’s comics or scrap fabric. And to give your kids more play time with you, I’ll slip theater tickets and hiking guides into your stockings.
As for the Naughty, I’m divesting from fossil fuels, so they’ll receive “Shrink Your Carbon Footprint Now!” booklets. If subtlety fails, it’ll be Rudolph droppings next year—sustainably harvested, of course.
I hope this begins to address your children’s fears that adults don’t care enough about them or the planet. We can evolve, even we who have been around a long, long time.
P.S. One more thing: I’m done giving guns.
This piece (written by Santa and delivered by Mary DeMocker) was originally published in the journal Interdisciplinary Studies of Literature and the Environment, in the Global Warming Special Issue in March 2014. Mary DeMocker is one of the co-founders and organizers of 350 Eugene. She is also a freelance writer and harp teacher.
Editors note: Story published with permission by the author and original publisher Oxford University Press. Citation the original piece as listed below.
Mary DeMocker. The North Pole Is Going Green!: A New Christmas Story, in Which Santa Has an Epiphany Interdiscip Stud Lit Environ (Winter 2014) 21 (1): 145-147 first published online March 14, 2014 doi:10.1093/isle/isu018