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A 2020 Christmas Story
by Graham Wylie


Santa slogged home on Christmas morning last year full of foreboding.  His trip all over the world was always difficult emotionally as he came across so many people for whom life was difficult, always marvelling at their capacity to embrace the Christmas spirit and find joy and peace in life.  2019 had been harder than usual however – there were a lot of folk who seemed unwell in various parts of the world – something was brewing and tingling his Santa senses.  He always paid special attention to his little humanfriends with rare diseases, as they were especially frail and in need of extra love and care.  Bella - the last he visited in a village near Milan, had been less well than usual, and Santa’s trip home had been full of thoughts of her.


Elf health

As Santa sat in his planning room, starting the process all over again for 2020, he wondered what the year would bring.  News was not good.  The magical anthropomorphic council was gearing up for a heavy year.  The Riders of the Apocalypse were looking strong and Plague, it seemed, had a new weapon and was on his way. This COVID 19 phenomenon had Santa worried – not just for all his little human  friends around the world, but also for his elves and inhabitants of the secret Santa village.  He looked again at sick note in his hand from his oldest and most respected Elf and friend Shinnyfish, who was nudging on 4000 years old.  He had some odd symptoms this morning and was not feeling well.  Not tall to start with, he thought that he was shrinking.  His senses were acting oddly – his unusually large ears were picking up constant tinkling of Christmas bells, his long nose was constantly smelling candy (although that may be true as Elf Sugarplum, Chief Baker, was a believer in “feeding makes you Elfy”).  His sense of taste was definitely off however, as all he could taste was mince pies, but not one had yet passed his lips.


Crisis management

As Santa went walkabout in the workshop, he realised how tight a ship they ran.  Efficient for sure, but what if everyone got sick?  Supply chains were imperative, and at risk, so he called over Elf Elainistifurkanajiristokisamur who ran the Very Critical Mass-production Team to discuss how to keep things running.  They discussed how to manage production so it would not suffer and the best way to ensure the children might get their presents.  

“Well, if all else fails Santa”, Said Elainistifurkanajiristokisamur, “all our children assume you can magic it all into place if physical methods failed, so just make that plan B!”  Santa wandered off to his planning room, a tad grumpy.  “This is a crisis in the making” he thought to himself. “All well in good to just magic it in place”, he grumbled, “but the myth is All Important and the whole idea was to physically visit every child on the planet!  Time to set up some precautions”. He fired up Magic-net as soon as he found his way back to the planning room to see what to do. He called together his crack team of elves and initiated his Workgroup Organising Noel Despite Everything Really Feeling Utterly Lousy (WONDERFUL) crisis team.  Soon after he busied himself in the Santa Lab, experimenting through the night.


The next day didn’t really have a dawn – always light up there in summer after all - but as the elves made their way to their toy production line for the next shift, they found a new set of SOPs, produced by Elf Suerjarmur.  All elves had to stay one elf height apart (about 4 feet).  A one-way system (always keep the North Pole to your left) was instigated on the production line to allow elf distancing.  Then all the doors were to be thrown open to ventilate the workshop, so extra clothing was issued to keep warm (although elves don’t really mind the cold, to be fair).  Santa magicked a large protective dome (nicknamed ‘the bubble’) over the entire North pole and toy warehouse, and nobody could leave until the virus was under control.  Elf Pottsasleikir had instructed that Present Production was to make way for some Elf precautions.  The clothing team run by Elf Lindajaraegir were tasked with the immediate production of new face masks to a special Elf design (long elastic to get around those large ears and a large pocket at the front to accommodate their large noses).  The chemistry team, under Elf McGraggagaegir had to stop producing perfume and move to producing a new Santa-iser and dis-elfectant– to make everyone was north pole clean!  Santa had to have his own PPE magicked up for his Christmas Eve trip.  This was undertaken by Elf Kamurasnikir. She turned his beard into a N35 mask (not that hard to be honest) and turned his Santa suit into an infinitely layered suit so he could rip it off after every trip to a home to reveal a fresh version underneath. The removed layer was designed to magically incinerate in the back of the sleigh a few moments later.


Despite all these successes, stress levels were sky high and all the days seemed to merge depressingly into one.  This kept Elf Karenasnetkir, chief Mental Elf, ultra-busy, as she was responsible for keeping the Elf team in tip top condition and for adding new Elfs to the team as required.  These all came from the same village of course, making recruitment somewhat simpler, but she had to convince them that keeping the toy production line going was important enough to have to isolate in the warehouse bubble for months on end. The Elf team almost doubled under her care.  Thankfully isolation did not add to the effect on the Elves to much – they didn’t meet anyone else anyway! 


A new stability

Shinnyfish was still unwell but recovering slowly. A few more elves had gone down with the disease, but so far, they were not suffering badly – they were all usually very Elfy, after all.  Elf Pouncergrigamur, who looked after the toy ledger and ensured Santa’s books balanced, was pleased as punch that despite the crisis, everything was working out well at the North Pole. Santa was spending more and more time in his lab, working on some project he called “Warp Speed”. He was a Star Trek fan after all.  He was also, of course, the fastest thing on the planet – he had to be on Christmas eve after all.  He was searching for a solution to protect his Elves.  Meanwhile he kept tabs on his little human friends with rare diseases.  He has asked Elf Ali Snowball – who maintained the naughty or nice list – to make a special list of all those children most isolated who were shielding.  Bella was doing fine, but shielding was rough on her.  Her parents were at their wits end – lack of work, schooling Bella and her brothers and sisters at home (concentration was not their strong point), no-one else allowed in the house to visit – not even her friends or other family – and it was beginning to show.  


Reindeer trouble

Summer was rolling on.  Santa was happy that things were under control and Warp Speed was looking good.  He was whistling away when Elf Stufur (who looked after the reindeer) rushed into the lab saying Rudolf was poorly.  His nose had stopped shining, and although Reindeer always cough, it seemed rather persistent.  Santa picked up his equipment and followed Stufur out to the stables.  Sure enough, there seemed to be a new variant of the virus that was crossing into the reindeer, so, taking a deep breath, Santa administered the results of Warp Speed to Rudolf.  Since this was magic, he pressed his finger to Rudolf’s skin and transmitted his warp speed magic.  It left a small red mark, but seemed to have no other ill effects, so for good measure, he vaccinated all the other reindeer too, then crossed his magic fingers.  “Keep an eye on them Stufur. I’ll check in tomorrow”.


The next morning, Santa’s first stop was the stable, where he was greeted with the glorious sight of not just one shining nose, but NINE bright red orbs.  All of Rudolf’s reindeer friends were sporting shining noses! “Don’t worry, Rudolf” said Santa “I’m sure it will wear off for the others with time – but good to see everyone is fit again.  At least we will see well on our trip this year!” Santa trudged back to his lab, with a vaccination plan for Elves forming in his mind. At least it would be easy to administer – there are not that many of us.  He visited them all at the production line, in the list room and kitchen, and adminstered warp speed magic.  


Slowly production made its way back to target as Christmas eve loomed.  Work was ridiculously high to make up for the huge demand for presents from Santa’s production line as most other toy producers had to stop working due to COVID.  Still, Santa’s helpers kept the toy production afloat, breaking all records to continue to deliver toys to deserving children.


Christmas Eve

Finally, everything was ready.  Rudolf and his team had been kitted out with special magic to stop them touching anything as they visited every home in the world – they did not want to be super spreaders after all!  Santa had extra potent sleep dust to administer to children in case he took too long in each house and had his ‘rip and burn’ suit ready.  He also had his magic fully stocked.  He had also had a mince pie, carrot and milk consumer machine created that took bites and drank milk on his and Rudolf’s behalf, leaving carefully constructed teeth marks to keep the story alive in the minds of little children all around the world without actually touching anything.   With one final look at his special lists of naughty, nice and shielding children, he launched his sleigh and started his epic journey around the planet.



Christmas morning dawned clear and crisp at Bella’s lovely cottage in Italy.  She had slept very soundly, despite huge excitement at Santa’s visit.  She remembered some odd dreams, of a strange Santa pulling himself apart and puffing up in flames (he had seemed a bit flustered by that) and her arm ached.  It all faded into a blur as her brother and sister burst into her room (they had been self-isolating for two weeks just for this moment), which was full of beautiful presents.  Her Mum and Dad bustled in with breakfast, and she got lost in a flurry of wrapping paper and the joy of being with her loving and caring family.  And neither she, nor any of the other hundreds of thousands of children that had special visits that night, noticed the small red mark on their arms that faded away from sight by lunchtime.



Posted by:
Laura Lange
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