SCENE:  The shop floor in Santa’s North Pole compound.  It’s ten days before Christmas, and normally the place would buzz with supremely choreographed, assembly-line toy making, but the floor is jammed to capacity and work is at a standstill, as a routine status meeting has turned into a collective bargaining confrontation between the elves and LARSEN E. WHIPSNADE, Santa’s in-house attorney.  Self-appointed spokes-elf KYLE has the floor…

KYLE:  ...and another thing: we haven’t had a raise since Richard Nixon was President of the United States.  

SANTA:  Ooh!  He was on the naughty list!  I remember.  I almost ran out of coal...

WHIPSNADE:  Not now, sir.  You elves...we have a process for negotiations.  This here?  This is an obscene spectacle.  You should be ashamed of yourselves.  At Christmas, no less!

KYLE:  A process!  Yeah, a process that’s already lasted ten Christmas seasons.  You’ve been stonewalling us!  We work all year, try to keep up with the latest toys, meet or exceed minimum yuletide cheerfulness standards, and all for what?  No raises and reduced benefits!  We can’t keep going!

WHIPSNADE:  (to Santa)  All I’m hearing is ‘blah, blah, blah’.  Am I right, sir?

(Santa is suddenly very interested in the Nice List scroll, which is unfurled down to the floor.)

KYLE:  When’s the last time we were able to recruit a new elf?  There are nine vacancies in the rocking horse division alone right now.  We’re running on empty, I tell ya.

WHIPSNADE:  This is starting to feel personal, like a mob attack.  It isn’t me.  I’m just doing what Mr. Claus tells me to do.

(Everyone looks at Santa, whose eyes are glued to the List.  A moment passes.)

WHIPSNADE:  Huh!  Ambushed by a bunch of elves, eh?   You ingrates leave me no choice.  So...I’ve requested that we take $110,000 from the toy budget...wait, $60,000... and bring in an outside attorney to take over.  You’re going to see what it’s like to play hardball with a professional...hardball-player!

KYLE:  Wait...what?  So you can take $60,000 for that, but there’s no money for raises?  Maybe you’d like to build these dollhouses yourself, Whipsnade!

WHIPSNADE:  That tears it!  You’re all on the Naughty List!

Pandemonium ensues.  The air is thick with toy parts, candy canes, pointy elf shoes, and ornaments. SANTA hustles to an exit, WHIPSNADE ducks under a workbench in time to dodge a hurled quart tub of Play-Doh, and children around the world inexplicably feel a queasy sense that Christmas might not happen this year.

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