LE MARS — Santa Claus isn’t having a jolly, white Christmas this year.
He’s flying to Tahiti on a private jet.
According to inside elf sources, Mr. Claus has decided to put his legs up and take a Christmas holiday.
He departs for the Pacific Dec. 20.
“My feet are swollen and my back is aching,” Mr. Claus groaned to his wife. “I think the world’s children are going to have to wait a year before I can manage another sleigh ride.”
It is reported Santa ordered his gift workshop to close last week, and it will remain so until Jan. 2.
“Why can’t my shop close early for winter break just like every American public school?” asked an exasperated Mr. Claus.
Sources say Mr. Claus has repeatedly stated over past months he wants to experience some of the perks of partial retirement.
“Look,” he said, patting his belly. “I just became eligible for AARP. I’ve put in a couple of decades, and the work has been great. But I’ve done my time, and things change.”
The change is not going so well in the Harding household.
When her parents told her Santa would not be bringing any presents, little Sarah Harding, 6, balked at the news.
“No!” she screamed before falling to the ground and pummeling her fists into the living room floor. “No! No! No!”
Other Le Mars children are having an equally difficult time adjusting to a season without Santa.
A consortium of approximately 1,000 co-authored a petition, pleading with St. Nick to reconsider.
“Dear Mr. Claus,” the letter began. “We know you have worked really hard to make each Christmas the best one ever, but so have we …”
The children ceremoniously delivered the letter to the post office with a tupperware box full of cookies.
Billy Stewart handed the package with the address “North Pole” written in felt marker to the clerk. Tear stains dotted the box.
Santa’s announcement also caught several of his employees off-guard.
“My fellow reindeer knew the old man was grumbling about making Christmas deliveries these past years — and Lord knows it’s gotten worse each December — but we didn’t really think he’d go through with it,” said Vixen. “I mean, the guy is Christmas!”
Vixen noted several colleagues had moved to contact Reindeer International, the trade union that represents Mr. Claus’ nine sled-driving magical bovids.
The union plans to negotiate the terms of the reindeers’ pensions in the event Mr. Claus’ departure forces them into early retirement.
Mr. Claus has given no indication he is altering his plans.
He says on Dec. 24, the only thing he’ll he thinking about is wiggling the white sands of Tahiti in between his toes.
“It’s a private island where nobody can find me, oh ho ho!” laughed Father Christmas, as he piled bottles of SPF 40 suntan lotion, several speedos and backdated copies of GQ into a suitcase.
“And I’m turning my cell phone off!” he quipped.
Depending on how the public handles their first December without St. Nick, Mr. Claus is toying with the idea of making Christmas an “every-other-year” holiday.
Outsourcing Christmas gift delivery to Amazon.com is not off the table, he added.
The company recently expressed interest in buying out Santa’s Workshop.
“As I near permanent retirement, someone else is going to have to take the reins,” Mr. Claus explained.
Even after brushing little Sarah’s damp brown locks from her tearstained eyes, the Hardings are struggling to process the implications of Mr. Claus’ announcement.
Looking at his wife Marsha with grave eyes, Paul Harding said, “I’m not sure what we’re going to do about presents this year.”
“I guess we’ll have to buy them ourselves,” Marsha said sheepishly.