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Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012

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Santa may soon reduce his reindeer herd to three to be more environmentally friendly. AMY CHAVEZ

JAPAN LITE

Santa-san is coming to town — it's going to be different this year


Christmas is going to be different this year. Oh, you haven't heard? Read on.

Virtual Visits with Santa

In respect for the non-believers who may be offended by his presence, this year Santa-san will not be seen in public areas. True believers can still visit Santa-san, but only virtually. Children have voiced their approval of this, saying they are more comfortable with virtual visits, rather than having Santa actually touch them. Download the Visit Santa App. with which children can SMS their wishes to Santa while collecting virtual chia pets for being good.

The move to virtual Santa has been a hit with parents in Japan, 90 percent of whom have said, according to a recent survey, they believe that Santa is basically a Bodhisattva. Many even believe he works in conjunction with Jizo — the god of children. Santa has long been rumored to be among the pantheon of 8 to 9 million gods worshipped in Japan. Start looking for stone statues of the jolly man in red. Maybe you can even procure one for your Japanese garden before Christmas. Get it now before the sales tax increases.

Hired help

For the first time ever, Santa-san is hiring Japanese university students for part-time work through Dec. 24. Santa is always busy up to the last minute on Christmas Eve, so he needs part-timers to help the elves glue together toys, put the final chips into computers and to add batteries in toys that need them. Santa's goal is to not have to scrawl last-minute messages on boxes such as "batteries not included" to cover for the fact that he just couldn't meet his Dec. 24 deadline. Santa doesn't interview for these jobs; he already knows if you've been naughty or nice. Just send him an SMS expressing interest and if he chooses you for the job, he'll send the reindeer to pick you up. Bring your own red sack.

There is another reason Santa-san is hiring part-time help. Most people are not aware that his colony of elves is shrinking every year. Santa's "¥100 Workshop" is especially understaffed as Santa could not secure enough visas for Chinese elves this year due to the elevated tensions resulting from the Senkaku Islands dispute. In addition, many of his local North Pole elves, lured by automation, have taken up jobs at factories in cities around the world. "They no longer want to make things by hand," said Santa in a recent interview. "Elves are getting soft these days and the work ethic is just not there. These days elves would rather move to warmer climes and learn to surf." There have also been reports of elves misbehaving, and having to be thrown out of the Pole.

Environmentally friendly

The North Pole Ministry of Snow, Toys and Sleighs is trying to pass a law that says all sleighs will have to be solar-powered — a more environmentally friendly form of energy and cheaper than feeding all those reindeer. The reindeer have to eat twice as much when they fly and they spend months in advance preparing for the grueling Christmas Eve night shift. On Christmas day, several reindeer have died at their sleighs from exhaustion — you just never hear about it. If the "solar-powered sleigh" legislature passes, traditional reindeer may no longer be needed.

Santa-san has suggested that he be allowed to keep at least two or three reindeer for effect, but the others will receive a Golden hoofshake. Even Santa admitted that because toys these days tend to be small and electronic, he doesn't really need the deer-power he used to. Furthermore, starting next year, he will no longer have to land on rooftops. He'll store the gifts on his Santa Server, where they'll be automatically downloaded via WiFi as he flies over each house. Be sure to leave your computer on.

However, Santa is fighting to get his famed herd recognized as an Important Cultural Property. Although he is hopeful his stock will obtain such status before Christmas this year, if it takes longer, the reindeer may have to take a rein check.

More politically correct

Mrs. Claus is going to make an appearance this year to show her support for women in the workplace. Although she is usually in the office reading all those letters and text messages and working on fulfillment, this time she'll accompany Santa in his sleigh. The First Lady Claus will wave from the sleigh and help distribute the gifts. She is said to have made her own outfit for the occasion. The suit is fun yet business-like, and its scarlet color mingles pleasantly with her husband's bold, fire-engine red get-up.

A return to family values

Mr. and Mrs. Claus will bring their first son, Klaus, who is to finish his long apprenticeship this year. Yep, that's right, the Clauses have children. And face it, Santa is getting pretty old, so he may as well introduce his heir apparent. Klaus, already 40 years old, appears eager to take over the family business. However, there are rumors that Klaus has married Dasher's daughter, a reindeer. Although human-reindeer marriages are quite common in Santa's village, they have not yet been accepted outside the North Pole. It remains to be seen if the international community will accept Dasher's wife as First Lady Claus.

Rudolph to host charity event

This year, Rudolf will be hosting a TV charity event on Christmas day to raise money to help eradicate bullying in schools. Rudolf, not one of Santa's original herd, is the star of the documentary "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." The story tells how the outcast reindeer was bullied by his peers and never allowed to join in any reindeer games. However, the shy antlered youth was discovered by Santa-san, who saw him for more than just an awkward quadruped. Rudolph's unusual talents made him an overnight success. At this charity event, Rudolf will pass out plastic red noses so anti-bullying advocates can show their support. Go Rudy!

Comet, one of Santa's original herd, will emcee the event and give random tidbits of the history and facts about how times have changed for the herd. "For example," said Comet when I begged him to share a juicy morsel with me, "during my great granddeer Comet's time, Santa used a whip to keep the herd in line! Nowadays, he apprehends us with strong words. We also get a lot more time outs."

The gala event will finish with several renditions of the song, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," by famous pop groups. No Korean bands this year. Audience participation encouraged.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.



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