Short Story – “Santa Kramp”

I’ve decided that it’s worth writing down just how all of this came about. A major shift took place last year and it’s my belief that future generations will want to read about it for themselves. A hundred years from now they’ll probably be teaching the events of 2016 in schools. First though, as official librarian for our organisation, I think it’s important that I discuss a little about our history, in order to truly explain exactly what happened this past season.

The role of Santa is the single most important position at the North Pole. Sure, you have the head-elves, the wise-elves, the production managers, the workshop managers and the floor managers, but Santa is absolutely the most important. Without the big guy holding us all together, our production tends to stall, or fall apart completely. Due to the importance of this role, it has never been an elected position in the same way that the roles of head-elves are decided. We felt very early on that this would lead to a corrupt system, making the focus of each new season campaigning, instead of christmas.

For this reason, the role of Santa has always been passed down through generations. The way in which we handle everything is very much like a traditional monarchy. The same family (the Clauses) held the position of Santa for over six-hundred years, and everyone at the North Pole has been happy with their work, for the most part. You see, the position of Santa is important, but it’s also purely ceremonial. The work that he carries out on the evening of the 24th of December each year, uses copious amounts of magic. So really, any person in a red suit and half a brain could complete the duties required of the role. Trust me, most of the hard work and difficult decisions are carried out by the elves here at the North Pole.

This isn’t to say we don’t respect Santa, because we do. It’s just that these days, the role still exists because of all the branding that’s firmly in place with humanity. Market research shows that if a tiny elf in a red jacket came shuffling down the chimney on Christmas Eve, children would be both confused and disappointed. We actually trialled this once, in the Indonesian market, where brand perception and recognition fell by 70% that year. Santa isn’t going anywhere, that role will continue to exist for as long as our operation does. However, last year, after a series of unforeseen and unavoidable circumstances, the family filling the position would need to change.

The Clauses were the most pleasant, jolly and cheerful people in history to take-on the role of Santa. Ulfred Claus was a pre-renaissance, Germanic farmer, and the original patriarch of the Claus family. He was a kindly man who handed out most of his winter crop to the poor families of nearby towns and villages. Due to the previous family not having any living blood-relatives, the elves at the time chose Ulfred Claus because of his extensive charity work and giving nature. Our records show that Ulfred didn’t let female or non-caucasian elves into the workshop, but you must understand that this was the early sixteenth century. The North Pole today is extraordinarily progressive, with female elves earning the exact same amount of candy as their male counterparts.

Other than his opinions on women, or elves of different races, Ulfred was regarded as a generous Santa and his reign marked the beginning of a new age. When he passed at the ripe age of ninety-six, his son, Ulrich Claus became Santa. Ulrich wasn’t quite as generous as his father in the gift department, but he did revolutionise production at the North Pole, implementing assembly lines over three-hundred years before humanity would. There are some documents in the library that describe Ulrich as “getting a little too friendly with the reindeer”, but other than that he seemed a pleasant enough fellow.

Ulrich’s son took over from him, and his son from him, and so on. Occasionally, if the wife of a Santa bore only daughters, then we’d have a female Santa for a couple of decades. The elves didn’t mind this at all, but humanity never took to it. There were two female Clauses who became Santa and we noted record lows in brand loyalty during those two reigns. This wasn’t the fault of the two Santas, Mia and Sofia, who completed rounds in record time and attended all public events. Humanity just wasn’t ready for a female Santa. I often think that it’d be the same today, when I look at the world leaders of the 21st century.

Hugo Claus was our first “Mr. Claus”. Usually, the wife of the incumbent Santa is referred to simply as “Mrs” followed by her surname. However, during the reign of a female Santa, this role would fall to the husband. Due to the preservation of the family, the chosen husband, in this case Hugo, would have to relinquish his family name for that of the incumbent family. Hugo was the husband of Mia, and during his time in the position of Mr. Claus, he started many North Pole events that are still held to this day. Events such as the Candy Cane Charity Ball or the Reindeer Races. I won’t go into any detail about these events, as I’ve already written a book on Elven holidays and traditions that can be found in the library or in e-book (elf-book) form.

The Clauses continued to carry out the duties of Santa throughout the industrial revolution and into the twentieth century. We coped with population booms by opening a second major workshop at the South Pole. Even to this day, humans haven’t caught onto this, and although elves have accidentally been sighted in the area, most humans have classified them as a rare sub-species of penguin. David Attenborough did a two hour documentary about them. The rise of new technologies in this age certainly helped to aid production at the North Pole, but mostly we continued to rely on good old-fashioned magic. At the time of writing, our magic is still stronger than that of modern human technologies, although we’re keeping an eye on Elon Musk.

This almost brings us up to date. Al Claus was Santa from Christmas 1979 to Christmas 2015 and is often regarded as one of the greatest Santas of all time. Everything you know about the modern Santa is because of this man. He founded the Glow Workshop, a sub-division that produces toys for children with various disabilities, including children who are legally blind and children with extreme forms of autism. He developed close business relationships with all of the elves, right down to those working the assembly line.

Everyone’s opinion mattered to Al, and when he passed, the North Pole held a week-long celebration of life. Death isn’t quite the same here, compared to humanity that is. We don’t mourn or weep for loss, but cheer and celebrate a life well-lived. For Al Claus, this meant a festival of kindness that featured feasting and music and candy-cane parades, there was dancing and prancing and reindeer games. Sorry, it’s hard not to sound like a cheesy Christmas poem when writing about the life of Al Claus. His son, Barnaby Claus, took on the role of Santa and was cloaked in a ceremony that acted as a finale to the festivities.

Barnaby was not liked by the incumbent head-elves. In reality there was nothing wrong with the man, he just had some big shoes to fill. Both metaphorically and physically. His father had cast a long shadow and on his first weeks on the job, Barnaby tried his hardest to impress his co-workers with outlandish ideas for new toys. One morning at the beginning of February (after suggesting they leave “adult toys” for adults under the tree, in order to recapture the imagination of an aging market) he was advised to take a two-week vacation, to clear his head of tinsel and return with fresh ideas.

Now you’d think that someone who spends a lot of time in cold climates would want to holiday somewhere warm. Barnaby was a huge fan of ice-fishing and he perhaps spent a little too much time with this hobby, and not so much time with other humans. He took his two-week holiday in Finland and spent the entire time sinking his line into a hole. If he’d applied this action to other aspects of his life, then maybe he would’ve found a partner and had a child of his own.

Barnaby Claus died aged thirty-three in February of 2016 in an ice-fishing accident. The ice where he had been fishing was much thinner than expected, and he was half a kilometre away from land when the ice started to crack. Poor Barnaby didn’t stand a chance. His body was recovered by local rescue services and the North Pole officially confirmed his death the following day. As you can probably imagine, the loss of a Santa who had no immediate heir was not ideal.

There was some panic among the elves, although most lower-level employees just continued with their assigned assembings. The loss of one Santa can never halt the spirit of Christmas. The majority of the stress at the time fell on the hearts and minds of the elves in middle and upper management positions. They knew that the lack of a jolly fat man in a suit could potentially damage the Christmas brand for decades to come. And with the North Pole being fresh off the reign of Al Claus, the Christmas brand was at an all-time high.

For a while the head-elves considered finding a brand new human to take on the role of Santa. Much in the same way that Ulfred had been gifted the role several centuries prior. The thought was exciting but the search was nearly impossible. You see, humanity has grown in population over the years, but not in generosity. They spent the better part of the twentieth century killing each other and in the twenty-first, the highest in society are showing signs of starving their own people in exchange for extra layers of perceived power. So the task was nearly impossible. The sentence “I’d give my pointy boots for another Ulfred Claus” was thrown around alot at those research meetings.

In the meantime, the wise-elves studied the Claus family tree. I was one of the wise-elves who helped carry out this task, and we spent weeks scouring the library for every available document relating to the history of the Claus family. Our theory was that there had to be a descendant of Ulfred Claus in the world somewhere. Not all Claus children followed in the family business, in most cases it was usually only the first-born. The other Claus children typically went out into the world and used their knowledge of the North Pole to start toy business of their own. However, we learned that very few of them ended up settling down and marrying. This was due to most humans finding them to be oddballs who believed in crazy things, such as elves and magic. How peculiar.

So our search for a true blood-relative of Ulfred Claus looked to be futile. That was until one wise-elf stumbled across an account of a scandal within the Claus family. In the seventeenth-century, Theo Claus had married Patricia Kramp in secret, and she bore a child within the lawful bonds of marriage. The following year, Theo fell in love with a flower-seller named Marcia. He quietly divorced Patricia and married Marcia at a grand-ceremony held here at the North Pole. Patricia reverted back to her maiden name and legally changed the surname of her child to reflect this. I’ll say this now, what we found as we looked into the Kramp family, did not bring any of us elves an ounce of joy.

Historical records show that Patricia Kramp was so angered by Theo’s change of heart, that she devoted her life to undoing any work that he carried out, within the town that she lived. She then told her son Otto, the child of Theo Claus, to carry-on with this tradition. He took the hatred of his father to extreme levels, which I cannot find it in my heart to blame him for. His mother had spewed such bile and hatred towards Santa throughout his childhood, that Otto never had a choice in the matter. Otto would not only take away the toys that Santa had delivered that year, but he would leave lumps of coal in the stockings of every girl and boy in town.

Now, you must understand that this flew under our radar for centuries. On an average year we achieve 98.9% coverage of households with children. As a young elf, you wonder how Santa does it all in one night? Well, the simple answer is that he doesn’t. Some two-million households with children are missed every year across the globe, largely due to admin issues, undeclared children and “acts of god”. It’s for this reason we believe nobody noticed that the town that the Kramps inhabited, went without presents each and every year.

As the decades passed, the townsfolk became aware of the actions of the Kramps, and they were ostracised by the community. They moved to the outskirts of the town and settled in an old cave. Their children started to show signs of curled horns on their heads, and they sprouted white fur on their chests and arms. Over the centuries, the Kramps became disfigured to the point of monstrous repulsion, until they finally resembled the images found in the nightmares of children across the globe. The locals came to know this monstrous, anti-christmas creature, as Krampus.

I cannot accurately describe the feeling in the room as we learned of the history, location and identity of Ulfred Claus’ only living blood relative. Each and every wise-elf silently pondered the implications of this knowledge, as we all knew the long-established law of the land. The man (not that you can call the Kramps “men” anymore) who currently held the position of Krampus, was to lawfully be the next Santa. His name was Artie Kramp and he’d been in the role of Krampus for over a decade.

We presented our findings to the head-elves, who reacted in a similar way to the wise-elves. There was much debate for several days as to whether or not we should appoint Krampus as the new Santa. Arguments for the appointment included his heritage and his already established ability to visit lots of houses in one night. The arguments against his appointment, formed a list longer than the one that Santa famously checks twice.

In the end, we all came to the conclusion that Christmas was still nine months away, so we had time to bring Krampus to the North Pole on a trial basis. As I’ve already established, the position of Santa is purely ceremonial. We could appoint a new Santa on the 23rd of December and still have them ready for Christmas Eve. So our thought at the time was that we could afford to spend a week or two getting to know Krampus. If, at the end of the two weeks, things weren’t going well, we could sit Krampus down and let him know that it wasn’t working out. Call it a cheap employment tactic, but this was a uniquely desperate situation. I was one of the three elves appointed to go and have an initial meeting with Krampus. I travelled with two head-elves to document the encounter. So I’m recalling the following scene using notes I made at the time. You’ll find them in their original form in another part of the library.

Krampus’ cave was situated at the bottom of a snowy mountain. All of us were extremely thankful that it hadn’t been at the top, as the reindeer were still out of magical powers from the holiday season, and wouldn’t be available for short journeys again until the summertime. The cave had no door to knock upon, so we called out a greeting that reverberated around the cave walls, before echoing back to where we stood in the snow. Two minutes later a surly, almost snarling voice called back to us, telling us in no-polite words to vacate the premises. We didn’t heed the warning, instead we responded by explaining who we were and declaring that we must speak with Artie Kramp immediately.

We heard stomping from inside the cave, followed by inaudible grunts. Then, a monstrous shadow started to form on the cave wall closest to us, it appeared to grow bigger as the creature made its way towards the mouth. The shadow cast by the torch-glow from the cave made Krampus look twelve-feet tall, with long and sprawling horns emanating from his head. When he rounded the corner and came into our direct vision, what we instead saw was a monstrous fawn, no taller than six feet, with bright blue eyes that resembled glistening ice. Krampus then told us we had five minutes.

We explained our situation as succinctly as we possibly could. Every-other sentence we spoke was met with a grunt of understanding and the occasional snort of displeasure. After the head-elves officially extended the invitation to the North Pole, Krampus scratched at the thick, white fur that lay between his two horns, and thought carefully about the proposition. I thought there’d be no way he would accept our offer, Krampus was an entity designed to hate Christmas and everything that had anything to do with it. I was surprised when he shrugged his shoulders and accepted the offer, declaring that he “Fancied a change of scenery anyway.”

On the journey home we learned that Artie Kramp had never wanted to be Krampus in the first place. That’s not to say he was fond of Christmas, as we would soon learn. He just didn’t want to go into the family business. He had his own passions; he wanted to be a stand-up comic. This may sound odd but as Artie explained to us, living life as Krampus is rather lonely. Nobody wants to visit your home, you’re hated by anyone remotely local, and trying to go anywhere in public with those horns and that fur is nearly impossible.

Unable to feel the joy of being around others, Artie Kramp had to get his entertainment where he could. Usually he’d just throw the Christmas presents he stole off the nearest cliff, to get his sworn duty over and done with. But occasionally he’d take something home that wasn’t quite wrapped properly. Over the years he’d acquired two things; a DVD player and a single DVD. The disc featured a compilation of Jerry Seinfeld’s greatest stand-up moments. It was only thirty-six minutes long. This runtime was enough to ignite a passion within Artie Kramp, as all he now wished to do, was to stand on a stage with an open mic, and make people laugh. However, despite his passions, comedy was not what we elves needed him for.

The North Pole is already home to three of the world’s leading comedians (we cannot legally disclose who in a public document) and every April we hold an annual comedy festival akin to that of Edinburgh or Montreal. We lived in a jovial place already and we had no need for anymore comics, especially those so apathetic towards Christmas. What we needed was a Santa, and as we arrived back at the North Pole, I still believed that Artie Kramp could be our Santa. He just needed someone to show him the ropes.

I put together a schedule for Artie. He’d spend a day in each of our six departments, before coming before the head-elves for a performance review. He’d work on the assembly line; attaching the basic parts to our new toys. He’d work in quality control; testing the toys to make sure they’re fit for children. We’d put him to work in the stables; meeting the reindeer and cleaning their mess. We’d put him to work in the candy-cane forests; harvesting candy for the upcoming season. From packaging, he’d learn how to wrap, and from the aviation team, he’d learn how to fly a sleigh.

We explained all of this to Artie when he first arrived and I expected him to either loathe the itinerary, or embrace it with a newfound passion. His reaction was neither, instead he just shrugged his shoulders and snorted air from his overtly protruding snout. He declared there and then, in front of all of the head-elves, that he disliked Christmas as much as he disliked disliking Christmas. He made it clear that he was only here because he was bored and that he fully expected to return home in a week. To his credit, he then thanked the head-elves for their time (in his own, grunting way) and left the council chambers to prepare for his first day on the job.

Artie began at the heart of the North Pole; the workshop assembly line. I accompanied him throughout his trial week and was assigned by the head-elves to make notes on his progress (or lack thereof). A few of the floor-managers showed Artie the ropes, before slotting him into the assembly line, where he would be attaching wheels to remote-controlled cars. Artie’s spindly fingers and curled fingernails couldn’t cope with the intricacies of affixing one part of a toy car to another. He struggled repeatedly and held the entire assembly process up. The elves on shift didn’t mind, as it meant they could take regular cocoa and candy breaks whilst Artie caught up.

I felt bad for Artie, he genuinely looked as though he was trying his hardest, and the expression of frustration that he held throughout his time on the workshop floor, showed me that he cared about what he was doing. I wasn’t too worried about Artie’s lack of DIY skills. Most Santas throughout history never stepped foot onto the workshop floor. They left the busy work to the elves and took a less hands-on approach. Maybe Artie Kramp was just going to be one of those Santas. Eventually, Artie became frustrated with the toys, and he began attaching eight wheels to each car in frustration. At the time, it looked like the angered and forced construction of a monster, but the eight-wheeled car went on to test highly in our popularity ratings that year.

Artie spent his second day with us in quality control, where he would be testing the toys that he had been making the day before. As soon as he saw the pile of toys in the middle of the room, he ran towards them and started smashing them with a nearby hammer. He stopped a few seconds later, apologising for old habits. I wouldn’t say that Artie’s second day went better than his first, because he spent the morning discovering that the elves would run away from the remote-controlled cars, if he chased them. Although it wasn’t a very productive day, I got to see Artie laugh for the first time. His laugh emerged into the world as a great booming sound, with not a single snarl or grunt detectable within the low tones.

On the third day, we put Artie to work in the stables. This was the day we got the most verbal complaints from our prospective Santa. We thought it best that he understand the work we do here, from the ground up. If he were to accept the role of Santa, then he’d never again be made to muck his way through mounds of reindeer sh(hhh, school elves might be reading this official document). All elves start out in the stables though, so we wanted to show Artie how our workers progress. The reindeers themselves didn’t seem to mind him, if anything they were just confused. I think it was his horns, and all the fur on Artie’s chest and back, it seemed to make the reindeer think that he was one of them.

During his time at the stables, Artie had the chance to chat with some of the other elves for the first time. From what I could tell, the elves in the workshop were too technical for his liking, and he’d been too busy trying to run the elves in quality control over with a car, to have a conversation with them. Arite really bonded with the stable elves though. He told them about his passion for stand-up comedy, and the elves suggested that he put his name on the sign-up sheet for the open mic night at the comedy festival. His glossy blue eyes lit up as they made this suggestion to him. He dropped his shovel and ran for the music hall in the centre of town, eager to ink his name onto the bill.

On the fourth day, we took Artie to the candy-cane forests, which are situated on the outskirts of the North Pole. Contrary to popular belief, candy is not made with various chemicals and colourings in a factory in Pennsylvania. Candy is made by scattering sugar-cubes onto the ground, in a particularly fertile area of the North Pole. They’re called the candy-cane forests because the large, twenty-foot candy canes are all that are visible from some distance away. Once you arrive at the forests however, you’ll find all sorts of candy-based plants. There’s cotton-candy rosebushes and strawberry-whip vines. There’s sugar-plums and gumdrops and chocolate-coated pines. Sorry for rhyming again, you know how much joy candy brings us elves.

However, candy did not bring Artie Kramp any joy. He hated how sweet and “sickly” everything was here, so naturally he protested greatly once we arrived at the candy-cane forest for a hard days work. He spent the entire time collecting lollipops from the lollipop lobelias, carrying a disgruntled expression with him all the way. He didn’t speak to any of the elves who were also on duty, but I did catch him muttering to himself. I couldn’t quite make it all out, but I’m certain I heard the question; “What’s the deal with airline food?”

Day five was spent in wrapping and packaging. This tends to be the department that a lot of the older elves work in, before retirement. I think during the last elf census, it was reported that the average age of someone in W&P was seven-thousand-eight-hundred and ninety-six years old. I think it was because of their increased age, and heightened grumpiness, that Artie got on with them all so well. I left him for a few hours on the morning, to see to some of my other duties, and returned at midday to find that they had practically made Artie their leader. They were playing him old elfen music, he was telling them the corniest jokes imaginable. The bonding was all well and good but the productivity of W&P was diabolical that day, and my notes had to reflect that this was down to the presence of Artie Kramp.

On his final day of work experience at the North Pole, Artie learned how to pilot a sleigh. He told me that the idea of flying made him uneasy, especially a method of transport that relied on a handful of “stinking mammals”, which I thought to be an ironic comment to come from a yeti who lives in a cave. He took to flying enough for my liking. Was it the smoothest take-off and landing I’d ever seen? Not by a long shot, but he was a beginner and with time he could learn. During a break in flying I caught him jotting down notes on a crumpled piece of wrapping paper. I complimented him on his eagerness to absorb and remember new information, to which he had a very confused reaction. Of course, I later learned exactly what he’d been writing.

Together, Artie and I walked into the council chambers for his final evaluation. I was quietly confident that Artie would be offered the role of Santa by the head-elves. He hadn’t performed amazingly but he had at least taken part in all of the arranged work experience. Very few Santas in history had actually been competent in their abilities, as I’ve mentioned several times, the position was purely ceremonial and Artie ticked most of the boxes. The very fact that he was a direct descendant of Ulfred Claus also played highly in his favour. Sure enough, the head-elves made him the offer and Artie’s face lit up with a huge grin. He walked forward, still smiling, and extended his taloned-hand out in front of him. Firmly, Artie shook the hand of a head-elf and said “No thank you.”

This was a shock to everyone else in the room, including myself. The role of Santa was a prestigious position, and generally a well-regarded role all over the world. No matter what your name is for Santa, he’s instantly recognisable as a symbol of joy, giving and merriment. It’s also common knowledge that, if you so choose, you can work one day a year and then take vacations for the remaining three-hundred and sixty-four. So I was of the opinion that Artie Kramp had made a foolish decision.

Artie thanked us all for our time and wished us luck on our search for a new Santa. He said he’d like to stick around for one more evening so he can participate in the open-mic night at the comedy festival. The head-elves wanted to send him home there and then, but I persuaded them to let him stay one more night. Besides, I’d quietly heard the whisperings of his comedy routine, and I knew our resident elfen comics had nothing to be worried about. Arite was a nice enough guy, he just wasn’t all that funny.

I attended the festival that evening, mostly so I could say goodbye to Artie after he had finished his set. The event-planning elves had outdone themselves this year. Giant garlands of tinsel hung from the interior of the roof and met in the middle of the ceiling, together they formed a sparkling image of the comedic face from a sock and buskin symbol. Our elfen comedians warmed up the crowd, and we had surprise guest slots from the comedians who lived at the North Pole (I really can’t say any of their names, but one of them rhymes with ‘Cannibal Curress’).

About an hour into the show, the MC introduced Artie Kramp to the stage and I started to become nervous about my new acquaintance. The elves in the audience were rather merry by now, and the workers from the stables cheered and whistled as Artie walked out in front of the microphone. He stood there in silence for a few moments, clearly wracked with nerves. The sounds of celebration from the audience died down and a few murmurs started to emerge from a handful of confused elves. In my own mind, I was begging for Artie to say something…anything!

Eventually, after what felt like an eternity, Artie tapped on the microphone with the tips of his claws a couple of times, and the crowd of elves were treated to an appalling screeching of feedback. Once the horrid sound had subsided, Artie launched into a pre-prepared routine that contained almost zero jokes. There was this one joke he made about the way workshop elves walk, compared to the way head-elves walk. It was rather amusing but I you definitely need to be an elf to understand it. Despite his distinct lack of jokes, many of the elves laughed nervously after each “punchline”. I suspect it was due to the fact he looked as though he could reach down and eat any one of them. Had he performed this routine to a human audience, he would’ve been booed off the stage within five seconds. However, elfen crowds tend to be a little bit kinder, so they let him finish his largely jokeless performance.

After he had finished and exited the stage, the elves gave him a round of applause, either out of politeness or due to the fact that he was finally leaving. I still haven’t decided which it was. I met with Artie backstage and congratulated him for at least attempting his passion, but told him that his day-job of Krampus was probably more suitable. Then, Artie surprised me and told the funniest joke I’d heard all week. He told me that the performance went well, he wished to stay in the North Pole so he could perform and that because of this, he happily accepts the role of Santa.

I was, of course, thrilled that he had changed his mind on the job offer. From a branding, PR and economic perspective, Artie Kramp was the single best choice for the role of Santa. I knew we’d have to tidy him up a bit, and he’d be the first Santa in history that we’d need to shave in order to produce the appropriate facial hair, but we could make it work. His horns could be hidden underneath a hood and his talons could be hidden by thick, black gloves. His roaring laugh and throaty snarls could be coached into an echoing and joyful “ho ho ho”. Yes, we could really make this whole Santa Kramp business work. Only, there was one problem, one issue that we had to live with for as long as Artie Kramp was Santa; from this day forward, we absolutely had to laugh at every one of his jokes.

You see, Artie accepted the role under the pretence that his performance at the comedy festival had gone well, when it actually hadn’t. I heard elves joking at the cocoa bar afterwards that it had been the worst display of comedy by any living being in the history of everything ever. A comment which I refute, because I’ve seen a polar bear sketch-comedy troupe. If you’ve also seen a polar bear sketch-comedy troupe, then I don’t need to explain myself. No stars.

The next morning, Artie officially took on the role of Santa and became known by everyone at the North Pole as ‘Santa Kramp’. It’ll take a decade or two for that name to trickle down to humanity, as the Claus branding has been in place for so many centuries. We accepted Santa Kramp as one of our own and welcomed him officially to the North Pole. We showed him his ample home and provided him with access to all of our leisure facilities. Of course, all of this came with a slightly awkward hitch. From that day forth, each of us had to pretend that we found Santa Kramp absolutely hilarious. Each and every elf at the North Pole, including myself, had to master the art of fake laughter. And we most certainly did just that.

Christmas 2016 went off without a hitch, and Santa Kramp embraced the role with all of his heart. He was clearly happier as a monster that set about to create a joyful Christmas, than monster who aimed only to tear it down. We had some reports from children that Santa blurted out a few terrible one-liners that year, but that was the worst of it. From this year forward there would no longer be a Krampus praying on the festive joys of a small town in Europe, and the North Pole celebrated the dawning of a new age. Of course, we knew the real problem was in the years to come. In that we’d one day have to find a suitable partner for the monstrous Santa Kramp, in order to continue the family line. I’ve seen what some of the humans are “into” when it comes to the bedroom though, so I’m not terribly worried.

Artie Kramp has so far been an excellent Santa, one that someday may rival the great Al Claus. He helped to mend the threads of a broken family, keep the power of Christmas strong all around the world, and bring joy to the faces of over a billion children. All he has to do now is keep the Christmas spirit alive, and he does that perfectly. All we have to do is continue to laugh at his terrible jokes, which we’ve managed so far.

Baubles! I’ve just thought. What if he reads this?

From the North Pole Library, recorded by wise-elf Redacted For Security

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