Manufacturing, transportation — even writing styles — have all changed since Clement Moore’s famous ditty, A Visit from St. Nicholas, first appeared anonymously in the Troy, N.Y. Sentinel on December 23, 1823. As a public service, What’s Up Yukon is pleased to present a more contemporary version of this oft-told tale:
Yo, Nick. Is that a Polaris?
It was late Christmas Eve and not much going on. The dog lay snoring and farting in front of the woodstove. The cat blinked lazily as a mouse skittered across the floor.
Two Icelandic wool socks hung from a nylon line, each bearing the traditional gift we exchanged every year — a single Lotto Max ticket.
The grandkids were down the hall, dreaming of high-tech gizmos they’d awaken to in the morning. Herself and I were snug in the matching onesies we wore whenever we had company.
Suddenly, a hellacious racket broke my slumber.
“That’ll be Elmore, back from the KK with a snootful again,” I muttered as I arose and threw on a tattered ball cap.
The only sash in the place was from Herself’s reign as a Rendezvous princess. Damned if I was going to crack the seal on a brand new triple-pane window, so I staggered to the door for a look.
There in the moonlight stood a bearded stranger in red and white, looking for all the world like good old Leo, long-time bell-ringer for the Sally Ann at the YLC on Second Ave.
I knew instantly who it really was.
“Yo, Nick,” I called. “Is that a Polaris?”
“Yeah,” he sputtered.
“What happened to the reindeer?”
“They’re history. PETA put an end to that. Who am I against Pamela Anderson?”
“But you can’t do the whole world in one night on a Polaris. Or even an Arctic Cat.”
“It’s not like that anymore,” he grumbled. “Business model’s completely different since the stock market crash of ’08.”
“Different how?” I ventured.
“Toy-making’s all outsourced now, to you-know-where. The elves were bored out of their tiny minds, getting antsy about human rights. They threatened to start a social media campaign to shut me down if I didn’t cut them into the action.”
“What did you do?”
“I went the franchise route. What choice did I have? Now every elf has a piece of the globe to serve, but it’s barely enough to make a living. Most folks buy their Christmas through Amazon or eBay. FedEx and UPS have a lock on distribution.”
“But Environment Canada still monitors your flight every year.”
“That’s B.S. The only route I have left is Carcross to Haines Junction. And only diehard families like you, who still believe in me. I can handle that, even on a Polaris.”
“So, you fly down from the North Pole?”
“No way. Suzuki’s people kicked up a fuss about my carbon footprint. When Missus Claus ran away to Tempe with the elf who covers Arizona, I moved to Mendenhall.”
“Wow, who knew? Look, can you come in for a while? I cleaned the chimney for you.”
“You kidding? Nobody can squeeze down a Selkirk. And who in his right mind uses a chimney when the stove is lit? Not even unicorns are that dumb.”
“Well, can I get you anything? Milk and cookies, maybe? Coke Classic?”
“A rye and seven would be perfect. But just one. YouTube would go nuts if Saint Nick got nicked for impaired.”
We had a lovely chat until just about dawn. Then he suddenly hopped up and ran to his sled. He came back with an armful of packages wrapped in a bizarre array of colours.
“Some iThings for the grandkids,” he twinkled, before turning back to the door.
“Hey, have a good one, eh?” he called out as he fired up the Polaris.
“No problem,” I replied. “You too, man.”
And he was off. Just like that.