According to high-ranking sources from the North Pole, major changes to gift-distribution requirements have been made, potentially affecting millions of children worldwide. According to the sources, Santa Claus, more formally known as Saint Nicholas (see the Claus style guide for proper references to the Mr. Claus), has made the following additions to existing Clausean policies:
Children of a Parent Living in an Unbelieving Relationship:
A natural or adopted child of a parent living in a relationship with someone who does not believe in Santa Claus, whether the couple is married or cohabiting, may not receive a gift, have their stocking filled, or be able to sit on Santa’s lap at the mall, but will be entered into the “naughty” list.
A natural or adopted child of a parent living in a relationship with someone who does not believe in Santa Claus, whether the couple is married or cohabiting, may receive a gift or have a stocking filled only as follows:
A believing relative, or a designated Santa’s helper in cases where there is no believing relative, may request approval from the Office of the Jolly Old Elf to provide Christmas gifts, be permitted no more than 2 minutes on Santa’s lap, and fill one (1) stocking for a child of a parent who has lived or is living in an unbelieving relationship when he is satisfied by personal interviews that both of the following requirements are met:
- The child accepts and is committed to live the teachings and doctrine of Santa and his elves, and specifically disavows the practice of disbelief in Santa, elves, and flying reindeer.
- The child is of legal age and does not live with a parent who has lived or currently lives in an unbelieving cohabitation relationship or marriage.
After the policy was announced, many around the world, including believers in Santa Claus and self-proclaimed “Santa-agnostics” alike, expressed shock and dismay at the new policy.
“It’s one thing for Santa to reject me because I no longer believe in him, but why on earth would they punish children for my choices?” Dave Sterling of Norwalk, Connecticut, said. “My kids still believe, and now I have to tell them Santa doesn’t want them because Daddy stopped believing. What kind of message is that sending? It’s unnecessarily cruel and unjust.”
Karen Applebly of Flagstaff, Arizona, worried that her kids would suffer because her ex-husband is a firm unbeliever in Santa. “I think I knew deep down when we got married that he just wasn’t that into Christmas, but I never knew it would hurt me and my kids. Just last night we were waiting in line outside Macy’s in the mall, and an elf came up and asked me if my kids lived with or had lived with someone who didn’t believe in Santa. When I said my ex-husband has joint custody, the elf shook his head sadly and said, ‘Look, lady, I’m sorry, but it would be cruel of me to let you wait in line this long and then have to tell you that not only are your kids not going anywhere near Santa’s lap, but they are probably going to get coal in their stockings. Maybe you should celebrate Hanukkah or Kwanzaa this year.’ My kids asked me why I was crying, and I didn’t have the heart to tell them.”
Some have speculated that the policy is likely to drive unbelief in Santa back into the closet just when it had become at least a little more socially acceptable.
“I don’t know what to do,” said an obviously distraught Erin Garcia (not her real name) of Klein, Texas. “For years I’ve been keeping this secret inside of me. As far as I know, I’m the only one in my family who doesn’t believe in Santa. I was working up the courage to come out to my husband and children, but now I don’t know. I know I should be honest with myself and with my family, but how can I do that knowing it will hurt the kids?”
In response to the outcry over the new policy, the North Pole issued a ten-minute video interview with one of its nine most senior leaders, Guide Reindeer Rudolph, who, coincidentally, has an unbelieving brother.
“This new policy restricting children of unbelieving couples from receiving the benefits of Christmas until they are 18 originates from a desire to protect children in their innocence and in their minority years,” Rudolph insisted. “We don’t want the child to have to deal with issues that might arise where the parents feel one way and the expectations of the North Pole are very different.
“Imagine how confusing it would be for children to want to put out a plate of milk and cookies for Santa, only to have the unbelieving parent eat it? How could we sit idly by while millions of children were taught one thing at home and one thing at the shopping mall or on television? We don’t want to insert ourselves into the family life of these children in their tender years. So, they will be welcome to attend holiday concerts, decorate Christmas trees, and hang up stockings, but let there be no doubt where the North Pole stands.”
Some observers have speculated that the new policy was drawn up to protect Santa from legal issues, but attorneys from Grinch and Scrooge, who handle Santa’s legal affairs, refused to comment.