My name is Henrietta, and I’m one of Santa’s helpers. That is, I used to be, before IT happened.
I guess I’d better start at the beginning.
I can still see it as if it were yesterday, the moment I knocked on Santa’s door at the North Pole nearly 300 years ago. The big guy himself answered the door. I couldn’t believe it was really him. Being a Santa’s helper is every elf’s dream job.
I stammered, "I was w-w-wondering if you had an opening in your workshop."
"Ho-ho-ho, of course I do!" he said. He let me in, gave me a uniform, and showed me where I’d be working. It was the Doll Room. At that time we were carving them out of wood or stuffing them with rags, but by and by we introduced lines in china and wax, and later celluoid and rubber. Eventually we were working almost exclusively in plastic. It was fascinating work, and I loved it.
But the best part about working for Santa was the uniform we got to wear. We all got a little jerkin that hit us about mid-hip, with triangular dagging on the bottom edge. The tights were wild - some were striped, some swirled, some had a checkerboard pattern and some a diamond pattern. The shoes had curly toes with a jingle bell on the end, and the hats had a curly top with a jingle bell.
And everything was black and white.
Santa said he loved the look of black and white - it was real clean and professional looking. He said there was nothing classier. Plus it was such a dramatic visual contrast to the toys, especially in the Paint Room. There you’d see elves painting toys bright red or yellow or blue or green, and the colors stood out beautifully against those sharp black-and-white uniforms.
Santa wore black and white too. His tunic was Russian sable with silver fox trimmings on the cuffs and collar and bottom edge. That sure kept him warm flying around in that open sleigh, I can tell you!
If you look at old pictures of Santa, you can see his black-and-white suit. There were even some movies filmed of him wearing it. One of them was called, I think, "Miracle on 34th Street."
Anyway, time went on, and we elves didn’t notice, but Santa was under quite a strain. Kids were asking for bigger and fancier toys, and instead of being happy with just one or two, they wanted a whole armful.
It was a lot different than it used to be. I remember one Christmas there were these two little girls living in a little house on the prairie, and all we gave them was a tin cup, a heart-shaped cake, one stick of candy and a penny each. They thought they’d died and gone to heaven, they were so happy.
Now imagine what kids would say if they got those gifts today.
You know Santa - he hates to disappoint children. So he kept building more work rooms and hiring more elves, and keeping up the jolly act for our benefit. If only we’d known!
The financial pressure got so bad that finally Santa started selling stock. Well, he’s a toymaker, not a businessman, and he really didn’t have a clue what he was doing. So one morning we came to work and learned that in the night we’d been the victims of a hostile takeover.
Santa told us the whole story then, but assured us we’d all keep our jobs and he’d still be delivering toys on Christmas Eve, and that it was all for the best because now he wouldn’t have to worry about the money end of it anymore. So we were all feeling a little better when all of a sudden the new boss walked in.
He took one look at us in our black-and-white uniforms, and said, "Oh, no. This won’t do at all. Tomorrow morning, you’re all coming to work in red and green."
Everybody gasped, and I got mad. I said, "Now just a minute, who do you think you are?"
He held out his hand and said, "I’m Ted Turner. And you’re going to be colorized."
That’s when I quit.
I know I let Santa down, but I just couldn’t deal with it. I’d been a Santa’s helper for almost 300 years, and it was time to find a new job. So now I’m a gremlin in a newspaper printing press. It’s interesting work, and I get a lot of reading done. And as long as I stick to the inside pages, I never have to look at any color of ink but black.