“I said, BE QUIET!”
My goodness! These trips up North seem to get longer each year. When they were all young fawns and bucks, you could just throw them in sleigh with a bag of feed and take off. Now they can’t go 20 minutes without being entertained. You would think now that everyone has their own tablet, they would stay quiet. But of course, these first-person shooter reindeer games create their own type of drama.
“Speedy, Dizzy, stop shooting your sister! Please let her make it out of the forest.”
“Sugar, dear, please just keep trying. Zip, could you help her out?”
So, yes, of course, we’re headed to the North Pole to see Grandpa Rudy and Grandma Clarice. When things began to change and everyone else started migrating south, they decided to stay. Dad says the North Pole is the best place in the world to experience Christmas. When I was a young buck, he and my uncle Arrow would talk about how they watched the elves manufacture Christmas spirit in their workshop. To be honest, the place still gets pretty frantic this time of the year, even though there’s not that much to do.
Personally, the old times seemed like a lot of work to me. Let’s just lay it out — Santa put together a team that manufactured and distributed all the toys for all the children in the entire world. Just to do it once, can you imagine what a logistical nightmare that must be? But they did it year after year after year.
It was no picnic for the reindeer either. The physical training lasted for months, culminating in a literal all-nighter. Yes, the reindeer pulled the sleigh all night! And all for what — an extra bag of feed in the morning? Somehow, it just didn’t add up.
No, this much better. Our little herd just loves our Google self-driving sleigh. Each little reindeer has his or her own spot, all powered by fuel cells. All we have to do is set the destination to the North Pole and relax. The self-navigation ensures we don’t fly into a mountain or into controlled airspace. The GPS routing also keeps us away from populated areas. (We wouldn’t want to spoil the magic for anyone, now would we?)
As you would expect, Santa’s always been somewhat of a technology geek. He’s always playing with the latest computer or smartphone. The rumor is that he’s completely wired the Christmas village with fiber. It’s probably true since the folks from Oculus were up here last week working on a secret project. But when it came to Christmas delivery, Santa always stayed old school. This choice confused many folks, but most suspected that Santa was a just following tradition. It turns out they were wrong.
Everything started changing when Santa received delivery of his first Google sleigh. Mrs. Claus told everyone that the twinkle in his eyes hadn’t been that bright in years. He disappeared into his private study for about a month. When he came out, the R&D team received directions to create an autonomous delivery system. Needless to say, the elves and reindeer were a little anxious. But apparently, the testing didn’t go as well as expected. Santa always seemed a little disappointed after each test run, and eventually the effort was scrapped. I guess Google’s technology couldn’t compete with elven magic.
Everything started settling back to normal, and eventually the project was forgotten. Then one day — a very fateful day — a present to Santa arrived in an Amazon box. Those who witnessed Santa open the present still talk about his smile. They say it was like all the Christmas joy ever released into the world came back to him at one time. As Santa lifted the present out of its box, all those around knew that their world was about to change.
Santa had just received his first drone.
It only took a few short months for drones to start zipping all over the North Pole. First, the drones ferried simple parts between the factories. Then the drones started carrying parts between the warehouses and the assembly lines. Eventually, the drones became integrated in the production process, allowing Santa to increase automation and realize greater efficiency. Sure, the elves grumbled a bit, but you couldn’t argue with the numbers.
The reindeer, however, were feeling especially nervous — Grandpa Rudy in particular. He could see the hoof prints on the wall. Watching all the drones carry items around the North Pole, he knew the decision that Santa was about to make.
Despite all the questions, preparations for Christmas that year continued as normal. The elves exceeded their manufacturing goals for the Christmas spirit, and the worldwide weather forecast for Christmas Eve was the best it had been in years. The entire North Pole was preparing for the best Christmas ever! So it came as quite a shock when the message came to the stables to stand down. A fog of confusion settled over the reindeer as they heard Santa talking with Rudolph,
“Well, I’m not sure how to put this, but… I guess that I’ve come to say… Rudolph, your nose is still so bright… but, we’ve outsourced delivery to Amazon tonight.”
Well, if you’re expecting a “Now all the reindeer loved him” moment, trust me that no one shouted out with glee. No one really said anything. Grandpa Rudy organized the team to help load the drones, but after Christmas, many of the reindeer started migrating to other work. The manufacturing efficiencies also required Santa to lay off some elves as well. Fortunately, a shelf-sitting opportunity opened up for them, and most of the elves are travelling the world and doing quite well.
Of course, to the young bucks and fawns today, this drama is nothing but ancient history. All they know are the drones zipping overhead. But you have to wonder, with no reindeer delivery and fewer elves making toys, is there less Christmas spirit now in the world than before? Grandpa Rudy believes so. Well, if that’s the case, I guess we’ll just have to create our own Christmas spirit to fill the gap!