Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Father Christmas for grown ups



One of the most harrowing ordeals that we experience in life is that gut wrenching moment when as a child, we are told that Father Christmas does not actually exist. It is precisely at this point that most of us are introduced to the nature of fraud and dishonesty and so begins the steady moral decline towards adulthood.

In my case, I was first informed of this most heinous of lies by a schoolyard chum at the age of 7. I'll call him John, to protect his identity (his name was actually Lee). I can still picture the scene now.....

It was a frosty morning in early December 1988. I was in my Yr4 primary school class getting ready to decorate my hand made Christmas Cards, a tube of red glitter in one hand, my trusty Pritt-Stick in the other. The atmosphere in the room was cheery. My fellow classmates were all busying themselves in similar tasks as my teacher looked on with a reassuring smile. But then a shadow was cast over my shoulder.

John was standing behind me, his gaze firmly fixed on my thirteen fingered representation of the world's jolliest philanthropist. And then he muttered those unforgettable words;

"Father Christmas isn't real you know. It's your Dad".

Naturally, I met this outburst with contempt and denial.

"Err, yes he is real. Anyway, my Dad hasn't even got a white beard!" I replied furiously – struggling to make sense of this revelation.

John went on to explain the situation in more specific detail. He made several salient points that were difficult to contradict upon contemplation. Namely, these were that:

  • One man could not possibly deliver presents to the entire world in one evening.
  • Reindeer cannot fly.
  • Consuming over 6 billion mince pies in the space of several hours would result in death.
  • Elves do not exist, and even if they did, they probably wouldn't want to work on a production line in the Arctic Circle.

My heart sank as the truth resonated with me. Then came the realisation that I had been the victim of a serious fraud. I realised that my Mom had never really posted any of my 'Dear Santa' letters to the North Pole. I realised that I should never have worried about the accessibility limitations of our gas fire place. Most disturbingly, I realised that the chap dressed as Santa in my local shopping centre, to whom I had divulged my desire for a Sinclair Spectrum 128k and the 1988 Beano annual, had actually been a stooge and a phony.

Who knows though, if John, had never shared his precious secret with me, my parents may never have found it in them to tell me the truth, and I might well still be living under the assumption that an overweight, bearded pensioner in a red suit was solely responsible for delivering Christmas presents to me via the use of gravity defying reindeer and a magic sleigh.

This got me thinking. Unlike with children, as an adult, for any lie to be taken as the truth it must be able withstand a good degree of interrogation. Should there be any weakness in the story, or any hole to be picked at; the lie will fold faster than Superman on laundry day. It can be achieved though – and on a massive scale.

Our Government lies to us all the time. Tony Blair once told us that the Iraqis could blow us all to kingdom come within the space of 45 minutes with their scary sounding 'weapons of mass destruction', and for a while at least, many of us believed him.

We have been told a lot of pretty amazing things in recent history that have stretched our belief to the furthest extremes. Even the most hardened believers of the status quo must at least admit that the following events have been akin to something out of a movie script:

Kennedy Assassination (1963) – An illicit affair with a Hollywood superstar and an insane gunman acting alone, all set against a backdrop of communist infiltration and the threat of nuclear apocalypse.

The Moon Landing (1969) – A protracted cold war with a merciless enemy and a race to technological superiority involving Nazi Scientists and space travelling chimpanzees.

Princess Di’s Demise (1997) – A secret Mediterranean romance, a drunken chauffeur, a high speed car chase through the streets of Paris and a beautiful Princess in distress.

9/11 (2001) – Two feuding families with mutual oil interests, an evil terrorist network operating out of a hidden mountain base, the world’s greatest superpower bought to it knees and a decade of war in distant lands.

So given, that it is clearly possible to construct elaborate stories in order to mislead the population, how could the myth of Father Christmas have been suitably detailed in order to make an adult human being believe it's true?

Like this.....

The Man

Nicholas Klaus XXIII

Born:
December 2nd 1934 (age 76)

Nationality:
Norweigan

Occupation:
World renowned philanthropist

Positions Held:
Chairman - Klaus Corp. Industries (1954-PRESENT)
CEO - Xmas Inc. (1954-PRESENT)

Spouse:
Mary Klaus (1952-2003)
Adrianna Katzapova (2003-Present)
Children:
Nicholas Klaus XXIV
Roger Elvis Klaus
Net Worth:
$54,000,000,000 (^2011)

The current Father Christmas' real name is Nicholas Klaus XXIII. He was born in Oslo, Norway in 1934 to Nicholas Klaus XXII and Gertrude Klaus and is a member of the incredibly wealthy Klaus dynasty, who originally made their vast fortune from international shipping in the mid 1400s. He is the direct descendant of Nicholas Klaus I, who was known to people as Saint Nick because of his renowned generosity.

This streak of selflessness has been the defining characteristic of all of Nicholas' descendants, and Nicholas XXIII certainly lives up to this reputation. In 2011 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his services to international charity, and his philanthropic endeavours have earned him the love and respect of people the world over.

As is customary in the Klaus family, Nicholas inherited the Klaus business empire in 1954 upon the passing of his father, Nicholas XXII.

Nicholas is extremely proud of his family heritage and he ensures that he wears the traditional Norwegian red suit that has been the uniform of his ancestors in the great majority of his public appearances. Like many members of his family, a genetic trait resulted in Nicholas' hair turning white upon reaching adolescence, which merely serves to add to his distinctive appearance.

Nicholas, his 2nd wife Adrianna Klaus (nee Katzapova), 28, and their two sons, Nicholas XXIV, 7, and Roger, 4, reside in Lapland, Finland in a custom built fifteen bedroom Alpine Chalet style mansion on the grounds of the Xmas Inc. office complex. The mansion is situated near Nicholas' own runway and hangar, where his private jet, Rudolph 1, is kept on 24 hour standby.


Nicholas had been previously married to the first Mrs Klaus (Mary) for many years. They had no children together. Nicholas had always blamed this on his weak libido and work stresses.

Their marriage broke down unexpectedly in 2003, around the time that Nicholas was first asked to be a corporate sponsor for Ultimo, where he would meet Adrianna Katzapova, a former Miss Russia. The pair promptly married and his first son, Nicholas XXIV was born later that year.

Nicholas is staunchly Liberal and makes regular and sizable donations to many left wing political parties, including the US Democratic Party and the UK Labour Party. Nicholas regularly meets with Presidents and Prime Ministers from across the globe, who all consider him to be highly knowledgeable and a good source of advice about issues regarding the global economy.

The Klaus Corporation

The monetary resources at the disposal of the Klaus family are extensive. Nicholas Klaus I's successful shipping industry was followed by centuries of developing other successful business interests ranging from North Sea oil production and investment banking to pharmaceutical development and automotive design.

Klaus Corp. is the overarching business entity in which all subsidiaries are contained. Nicholas Klaus XXIII is the Chairman of the Board. The company was floated on the New York Stock Exchange in 1976 for $1.17 per share, netting the company over $100 billion overnight. Shares rose considerably during the dot com boom of the late 1990s and have been considered to be an extremely wise investment ever since. The recent global financial crisis has seen Klaus Corp. profits plateau, but nevertheless, in 2011, total revenue was estimated at $361.54 billion, making it the world's 2nd largest Corporation, above Exxon Mobil, and just behind Wal-Mart. In GDP terms, this makes Klaus Corp a more powerful economic entity than Thailand.

Much of the day to day running of Klaus Corp has been directed by an executive management team for many years, which has left Nicholas free to focus his attentions on the family’s most cherished business concern, Christmas Incorporated (Xmas Inc.).

Xmas Inc.

Xmas Inc. is a social enterprise with the primary goal of ensuring that every 'nice' child in the world receives a present at Christmas time. This is an ambition that has never been fully realised, as due to poor infrastructure in many developing nations, Xmas Inc. has only ever managed to hit a 43% distribution target worldwide. Nicholas Klaus has made it his personal quest to ensure that this figure is at 60% before he passes the reins on to his son, Nicholas XXIV.

The Xmas Inc. head office is situated in Lapland, Finland. Finnish tax laws relating to industries of a largely philanthropic nature coupled with a low rate of Corporate Tax make Lapland a financially viable location for the business to be based.

The Xmas Inc. main offices are staffed by a 5,000 person administrative workforce, whose duties relate generally to finance, human resources, communication, and logistical oversight. Xmas Inc. prides itself on having a very transparent system of equal rights employment, which for reasons unclear, has led to a large percentage of people with dwarfism working in the Lapland based offices.

Revenue Streams

As the nature of Xmas Inc. business is to distribute free Christmas presents on a global scale, their colossal expenditure needs to be balanced with sufficient revenue. Much of the funding for Xmas Inc. is generated from donations made by Klaus Corp. shareholders. These donations equate to a percentage of the annual dividend and are an accepted part of buying Klaus Corp stocks.

The other major source of revenue comes from advertising tie ins. Xmas Inc owns several copyrights, patents and image rights which are made available to other companies in return for annual royalties. In particular, Nicholas' own image is a highly profitable source of income, with many major companies choosing to use the image to market their own products.

John Bauble of the Chartered Institute of Taxation stated: "It is quite common for celebrities and other key public figures to put various capital items – such as image rights – into a company. That allows income to flow to the company and be taxed there at corporation tax rates".

To date, the Coca-Cola Company has been the biggest purchaser of Xmas Inc image rights and has paid several billion dollars annually for the privilege.

Despite being offered considerable sums, Xmas Inc. has refused to grant exclusivity of these rights to any individual business - stating that Father Christmas "should belong to the world".

Operations

Incoming Communications

Key to the successful operation of Xmas Inc. is their Incoming Communications department. Managed by Kevin Pinecone (4ft 4"), the department handles the large volume of 'Dear Santa' notifications sent directly to the Lapland Offices. The majority of these still come by post and are sorted in the mail room before being sent to a large data processing team to be entered into the company database. In recent times though, Kevin's department has been managing an increasingly large amount of e-mail, tweets and requests submitted to the Xmas Inc. Facebook page.

In a recent interview for Short People Magazine, Kevin stated that "The introduction of social media has really created a whole new industry at Xmas Inc. We have had to adapt to changes in technology very quickly, but we feel confident that our system for screening and processing 'Dear Santa' requests is as efficient and effective as it could possibly be.

NORN Enforcement Team

The 'Naughty or Nice' enforcement team are employed to ensure that only the good children are eligible to receive presents from Xmas Inc. In order to be able to accurately assess this, Xmas Inc has access to education reports and criminal records for many nations across the world. It has been able to do this thanks to a clause in the UN backed International Freedom of Information Act, section 7, subsection 2 - which states that 'Xmas Inc have legitimate authority to make a list, and check it twice, so they can find out who's naughty or nice'.

To ensure compliance with the Xmas Inc. 'nice' criteria - children worldwide are encouraged to:

  • Watch out
  • Not cry
  • Not pout
  • Be good for goodness sake

'Naughty or Nice' Enforcement Team Manager, Emma Tinsel (4ft 2"), said "despite the nature of our work, my team does not attempt to be punitive in regards to assessing key behavioural information - and we try to see the good in everyone. Unfortunately though, in recent times the naughty/nice ratio has been tipped heavily towards the naughty side, suggesting a temporary breakdown in the fabric of society".

Purchasing

Contrary to popular myth, Xmas Inc. does not produce the majority of the presents that it distributes, but instead employs the world's largest purchasing department which is responsible for placing large volume orders from major consumer brands on an annual basis. Xmas Inc buyers are notorious for their ruthlessly competitive approach when it comes to getting the best deals for the company.

Chief purchaser John Cranberry (4ft 1") said "I will literally prostitute myself to a sales team to ensure that I get maximum value for the company’s money. Literally".

Distribution

It is a quirky legend, somewhat encouraged by Xmas Inc, that Nicholas Klaus delivers all of the presents himself. In reality, this is obviously quite ludicrous, so instead, Xmas Inc. oversees the world's largest and most complex distribution network. One of Klaus Corps subsidiary companies, Reindeer Logistics is contracted to work solely for Xmas Inc during the Holiday season.

The process starts in a giant underground Goods-In warehouse located in Svalbard, Norway where several thousand people are employed to take receipt of incoming deliveries and sort them into their respective deployment blocks ready to be moved and loaded on to a designated aircraft.

Reindeer Logistics owns has a fleet of 702 cargo planes - making it the largest cargo airline in the world – both in terms of fleet and freight tons flown. Each plane is given one of eight deployment names which relate to their connection to specific parts the globe:

  • Donner/Asia
  • Blitzen /Australasia
  • Comet/Northern Europe
  • Cupid/Southern Europe
  • Prancer/North America
  • Dancer/South America
  • Vixen/North Africa & The Middle East
  • Dasher/Southern & Western Africa

All are emblazoned with the Reindeer Logistics logo and due to their colossal workloads, are a common sight in the skies above us during late November - December.

Upon delivery to their country of residence, all presents are transported via a fleet of Reindeer Logistic trucks to a designated Xmas Inc Warehouse. From here local couriers take them to their final holding destinations which will be located in the town or city that they have been labelled for.

This is where the Father Christmas Operatives (FCOs) take over. Wearing a replica of the famous Klaus family uniform, these employees of Xmas Inc, who number in the thousands, deliver presents within a specific area. Typically, there is one FCO in every town on the Xmas Inc deployment register. Large Cities are broken down into smaller suburbs, again with one FCO per designated area.

Take for instance Bob Bethlehem, of Lewiston, Idaho. Bob has been operating as the local Father Christmas for 25 years. He earns a good salary for his seasonal work and receives a sizable bonus for hitting a 100% delivery target.

Bob was recently nominated for the North American Outstanding FCO Award. Speaking to the Lewiston Herald in an interview following the nomination, Bob said; "Being a FCO for Xmas Inc is a privilege and an honour. It's given me an opportunity to give something back to the community and it also provides me with a competitive pension scheme".

If Bob wins, he will receive an all expenses paid family holiday to Lapland where he will meet up with the winners from other continents and will compete for the highly prestigious Xmas Inc. FCO of the Year Award. Should he make it to this finish line, he will have the unparalleled honour of being invited to dinner with his idol and hero, Nicholas Klaus XXIII. Asked about this, Bob said;

"To think that I could be sitting enjoying a fine meal with the great man himself is almost too much to take in. He means so much to so many...." Bob broke down at this moment and had to be helped to his feet.

Contrary to popular belief, FCOs operate during the entire of December rather than just on 24th-25th. This ensures that they have ample time in which to reach their 100% delivery target. FCOs are given legal precedent to enter a person's house without their consent, and a key skill of a good FCO is lock-picking.

Unfortunately for the reputation of Xmas Inc., several FCOs have been dismissed for violating the trust placed in them, and while in the process of delivering presents, have been known to steal other items from the owner's property. Most notorious was the case of FCO 513448, aka Christopher Cringle (aged 64) from Middlesboro, England.

In the act of delivering a 'my little pony' stable set to Stacey, aged 8, Mr Cringle stole two Television sets, a Anthony Worrall Thompson Blender and £400 pounds worth of gold jewellery. Cringle was arrested, sacked by Xmas Inc. and subsequently prosecuted by Middlesboro Crown Court for burglary. For Xmas Inc. though, the damage was already done and it was a PR catastrophe which took years to recover from.

Despite these occasional problems, most FCOs are honest, upstanding individuals who pride themselves on being a local Father Christmas. There are over 220'000 FCOs currently working world wide.

The Credit Crisis

The global financial crisis of 2008 hit Xmas Inc hard. Increasing energy costs and global inflation caused a sharp spike in ordering and distribution costs and the company was forced to make cuts in its workforce.

Once again though, Xmas Inc's parent corporation Klaus Corp was able to shield it from the worst effects, and shareholder donations and royalty payments on image rights have continued to be sufficient for Xmas Inc to maintain a 40% annual distribution target.

Thankful for this good fortune, Nicholas Klaus has vowed to do everything in his power to help bring an end to the world's financial woes. Despite being a staunch anti imperialist, he is now working closely with the IMF and the World Bank to try and help them to get the global economy moving again. He was recently quoted as saying:

"Despite the fact that some of these people wouldn't know the meaning of Christmas Spirit if it fell on them, as a humanitarian, I feel that it is my duty to use my 50 years of experience in world trade to try and help them to find a solution to our troubles"

This intervention has been heralded by commentators as the potential turning point in the economic crisis and rallies honouring Mr Klaus have been held worldwide.

So now do you believe?

Perhaps as you were reading this, you started to forget that it was just a tall story. Perhaps.

What is certainly true is that if I can create such an elaborate tale with little more than a keyboard, access to the internet and a working knowledge of Google, then what the hell else have we been made to believe?

Anyhow, I hope I've stirred up a bit of Christmas spirit in anyone reading this. In the words of the great Nicholas Klaus XXIII, "Merry Christmas, one and all".

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