Saint Nick sells out

In the year of e-Christmas what would you expect?

Published December 24, 1999 5:00PM (EST)

Dec. 24, 1999

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, nor clicking a mouse.

The eToys deliveries had been carefully wrapped;

We'd done all the work while St. Nicholas napped.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of Pikachu danced in their heads;

And Ma in her nightshirt, and I in my shorts,

Sat in bed channel-surfing, recapping the sports.

When out on the roof there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.

I peered out -- told myself "Santa's coming along!"

But the scene on the roof was somehow ... gravely wrong.

Yes, there was the sleigh, silhouetted quite clear,

With a team of eight very odd-looking reindeer.

But before I'd made out just what was amiss,

Santa dropped down the chimney, and -- hey, what was this?

In an Armani suit, he was sleek and well-tanned,

With a Palm VII in pocket and StarTac in hand.

It was clear Dr. Atkins had helped him lose weight.

And he'd had his face done. He was fit. He looked great!

So! The old Santa gig was now quaintly historical:

Why, he'd close-cropped his beard (like that guy who runs Oracle)!

He peeled off his Oakleys, and fixed me in sight,

"Gotta wear 'em," he said. "The future's so bright!"

Flicking soot from the cuff of his E. Zegna shirt,

He continued, "I fear this is going to hurt:

We have downsized. De-cruited. The elves had to go.

Now it's point, click and ship, babe -- or didn't you know?

"It's an e-commerce Christmas from coast to coast,

With FedEx delivering, the North Pole is toast!

No jolly old man can compete with that bunch.

What was Santa to do? They were eating my lunch!"

"So you sold out," I murmured. "So that's the new wrinkle."

"Agreed to be acquired," he spun back with a twinkle.

"I'm in marketing now. No more low-margin toys:

Now I leverage the minds of the world's girls and boys!"

"In my high-tech boutique at the top of the world

We get the big concepts dreamed up and unfurled.

Here's an idea you may've come upon,"

Then he whispered that ignoble word: "Pokimon."

Thunder crashed! Lightning struck! And an evil wind blew!

As I re-lit my lamp, I cried: "Santa! Et tu?

Then you brainwashed my kids! You hooked them on trading!

I no longer parent. It's all arbitrating!"

He replied, "That's enough existential malaise.

We have made your job easy in so many ways.

How dare you condemn this as vile thought pollution?

We deliver a smart, integrated solution!"

He launched PowerPoint on his laptop computer:

"Now just watch the screen, friend, and I'll be your tutor.

You've forgotten how difficult childhood can be

Pokimon gives kids clues to life's great mysteries.

"It's books, shows and movies -- an unending spiral!

It's a card-game! A vid-game! It's vertical! It's viral!

It's brilliant! It's -- whoops, I'm ahead of myself:

My slides got all shuffled, danged disgruntled elf ..."

Now he twiddled his touchpad and nudged his joystick,

Then he froze at the sound of a metallic click.

When he looked I had both barrels aimed at his crown.

"It's low-tech, but it works," I said. "Now please sit down."

I went on: "I m the first to admit you're a whiz.

Diabolically clever's what Pokimon is.

But before you program a whole generation,

I'm putting an end to your slick presentation.

"Trading cards more precious than most legal tender?

It's the only fad going that overlooks gender!

Girls nurture their Poki-dolls! Boys, they can battle!

They all collect cards -- and you ride tall in the saddle!"

Then, mopping his brow, Santa nervously spoke:

"I'm glad you appreciate that masterstroke.

Might I point out other laudable qualities?

We're also teaching them market realities!

"Kids Web-surf for quotes to avoid getting screwed.

The worst social stigma is being out-Mewed!

Don't you think that helps later, when they're paying bills?

Not to mention they develop fine-motor skills?"

"Santa, get thee behind me!" I tensed on the trigger.

"In the name of my children, this must get no bigger!

They're within Pokimon's all-encompassing lattice.

It's the sine qua non of a kid's peer-group status!"

But then a strange sight wiped the snarl from my face:

A second exec-type, with slender briefcase!

He dropped down the chimney. His gaze was like steel.

He told me, "Back off and we'll make you a deal:

"In due consideration for Santa's release,

New Pokimon rollouts will desist and cease.

But what's out there, stays there." I lowered my gun.

I swallowed hard once. Then I said: "OK. Done."

"OK, Nick," said the man, "you can pack up your work!"

When I asked, "Who is that?" Santa turned with a jerk.

"Him? That's my counsel. And should you disclose

What we've said here, you're mine!" Up the chimney they rose.

Back in the kids' room, I patted their heads.

I watched, out the window, that fantastic sled.

More rapid than eagles, his coursers they flew,

And he called them by name as they went, two by two:

"Now, Squirtle! Now, Psyduck! Now, Oddish and Abra!

On, Blastoise! On, Raichu, Meowth and Kadabra!

You're flying off shelves! You're the top-rated show!

Now Pokiball! Pokiball! Pokiball, Go!"

But that wasn't all. He'd one more thing to say.

And I heard him exclaim as he flew far away:

"Friend, we've lots more in store for your son and your daughter!

Just wait till next year! Ever read Harry Potter?"

(Apologies to Clement C. Moore)

By Joe Kelleher

Joe Kelleher lives in southern California and puts people to sleep for a living. (He's an anesthesiologist.)

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