The last bell jingled and he climbed off wearily wiping the sweat from his brow (in the North Pole!). He had no breath left even for one 'HoHoHo!'
Being stuck with distributing toys to children, and going 'HoHoHo' while doing so, had seemed so much fun when it all started. But, then, those had been times when children actually hung up socks at night and eagerly opened them in the morning; and were actually joyous to see a top or a wooden horse in the morning. Ever since they started saying, "Eeew! I wanted a clockwork train not this nasty old horse", the fun had started draining out of his life. What was the point in being Santa Claus if he could not make children happy?
If things had, at least, been easier to do, it would not pinch so much. Earlier, all he had to do was to squeeze himself through various sizes of chimneys. Now...with mortals having dispensed with all chimneys, except where they kept them on for ornamentation, he had had to squeeze himself to the tiniest of shapes in order to do his delivery job. Yes...it had just become a job now. It was no more fun.
How could it be fun, anyway? The time was when what he delivered were toys...bits and pieces of fancy and fantasy with which a wonder-struck child could create its own worlds; its own games and its own fun. Now, though, what he was handing out was cookie-cutter fantasies into which a child would lose itself, without ever knowing the multitude of unknown fancies that had died still-born. What he now gave were no longer toys for children. They were the sort of games that adults played, except that, when adults played, real people suffered and/or died.
He sighed again, his mood quite at odds with the festiveness of the season that he represented. He really should not be brooding like this. It was just the thought of all his artisans now lying idle. With the sort of toys that now spread happiness, it was no longer possible for him to be making any of it here. Bulk orders on Amazon and FlipKart had replaced the busy toy factories of Santa Claus. Learning to place these orders on what the mortals called the Internet had occupied all his time during the rest of the year.
He pulled out a toy from his pockets. The mortals called it a Smartphone. He looked at it gloomily. This year he would have to spend learning to use this toy. It seemed likely that, some time soon, he could not place orders without using what they called Apps on these Smartphones. It was hard, hard and so uncaring of the elderly, for these chaps to keep making changes that made him have to strain himself every year.
Then his face brightened. Anyway, the children of these times played with adult toys; did not really care much for bells or reindeer. So, why not just ask these Amazon/Flipkart blokes to directly deliver the toys, appropriately packed in socks? Santa smiled...that would make it worth having to learn all this App gobbledygook.
Now...to figure out what to do with the sled and the reindeer...
Before that...time for one last...