As a morale building exercise, we have an annual Christmas cubicle decorating concept at my office. There are individual and team prizes for the best decorations.

The first year that we held it, whort declared in a typically alpha geek fashion "Christmas is a solvable Engineering problem!" He then constructed a stunning domed trellis over top of his cubicle, strung with holly and ribbon and Christmas lights. It was awesome - light yet visually rich, with pleasing curved lines. It transformed the cubicle from a box into a sort of festive gazebo.

I was convinced that whort had proved his hypothesis and that he would win.

kamamer was one of the judges that year. I forget whom he and the rest of the judging panel chose to bestow the decorating prize on, but I'm sure her decorations favoured enthusiasm over engineering prowess.

whort didn't speak to kamamer for months afterward. In morale terms, it was a disaster on the order of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

I don't know whether this means that Christmas is a solvable Engineering problem or not.

Christmas is a solvable engineering problem.

And here's a possible solution.

There are many misconceptions about the intelligent race commonly known as elves. Elves are sometimes held to be descendants of Adam and Eve from before they ate the apple and acquired so-called original sin. Though they are often depicted as midgets, elves are not midgets. They are as tall as human beings, and the only apparent difference to the proverbial man on the street is that elves have pointier ears. However, they age about two orders of magnitude slower than humans do. After going to school off-and-on between the ages of 600 and 700 years and learning several professions, they often land a job working at the North Pole Inc. warehouses around the world.

Santa's helpers have incredible job security; they generally hold their jobs until age 2,000. They then work at various human jobs for 30 years each, retire, and route the pensions back through the school system and NPI until death at around age 11,000. (Yes, like all other creatures, elves die.)

When I questioned my adoptive parents about elves and Santa Claus, I made sure that other grown-ups agreed that it was plausible. I stopped believing when I set up a homemade burglar alarm around the tree one Christmas in hopes that Santa would trigger it. Nothing happened. After seeing the Disney movie The Santa Clause, I began to form this alternative version of the Santa myth:

It would be physically impossible for one Santa Claus to deliver toys to all 400 million Yule-celebrating children in the whole world in 31 hours, even considering Jehovah's Witnesses, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and others who do not celebrate Yule holidays such as Christmas and Chanukah. The current CEO and Santa Claus, named Tim Allen, has numerous helpers of both human and elven races.

Regional NPI offices and warehouses employ quite a few elves and one or more human Santa stand-ins. The Santa hits the shopping malls and tabulates kids' wish lists. Elves then purchase toys in megabulk from the big manufacturers (Hasbro, Mattel, Nintendo, Sony, etc.) with (among other income sources0) the aforementioned pensions along with the fines paid to affiliated law enforcement organizations by the families of naughty juvenile delinquents, wrap up the toys, and distribute them by truck or train (the cars say North Pole Express, or Norpolex) to other regional offices. The local mall Santa then handles toy delivery in each town.

Now isn't that a bit more plausible than what your parents probably told you?

0 This story has previously been presented in another forum, where somebody else replied with a comparison of NPI's business plan to that of a dot-com company. More detail has been added in this revision to the known sources of income.

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