He woke on a glorious day in May with a vague sense of unease. This was unusual because everything in his life is generally so well organised – the only challenging bit was the mad delivery schedule at the end of December. He decided to shake off the odd feeling by having his usual Spring breakfast of muesli with fruit followed by green tea then get cracking on his day. He had a meeting at 10:00am with the Chief Elf, and he wanted to be ready for that. Chief Elf was ferociously organised and made Santa feel just a little inadequate.
Santa arrived at the meeting with his Moleskin notebook and sat down at the head of the table as usual. Chief Elf had his eyes glued to the monitor checking the database. ‘Setting up this database is the best thing we ever did’ said Chief Elf, ‘I feel confident now that we have everything covered – digital is really the way to go. I’m just finalising the delivery schedule as best I can at this stage before we get the naughty and nice programme online. Oh and you won’t need that Moleskin notebook anymore – Scribe Elf is now going to take meeting notes on his keyboard. We can all access the notes electronically, so no need to write anything down’.
Santa’s sense of unease returned, evolving into something stronger – a sense of foreboding almost. ‘Chief Elf, I have an odd feeling about all this – a feeling we have forgotten something’ said Santa. ‘Don’t be silly’ said Chief Elf, ‘we have everything covered – we did that huge mind map and have used the best programmers in Elfdom – all the information from the master Filofax has definitely been checked and transferred over ’. Santa felt vaguely re-assured – after all Chief Elf was the best you can get in terms of being organised – even if he was a bit scary sometimes!
The meeting progressed and they discussed production schedules for the toys and books this year, laying the usual small bets on which would be the most popular. Santa was confident he would win the wager again this year – he had the knack of guessing which toys would get the most hits on the Santa letters.
Every year was a little more challenging, because every year there seemed to be more children to cater for. What was strange though was how far ahead they seemed to be in their construction schedules – Santa couldn’t understand it – it was almost like they had forgotten something important. Chief Elf just kept wittering on about how much more efficient they were this year because of all the new systems he had put into place, and how everything was now ‘in the cloud’.
‘Oh well, there is not much more I can do at this stage’ said Santa, ‘everything seems to be on target’. Mrs Santa had been pressurising him to take their annual May holiday, so he decided to go and finish his packing so they could leave on time. He decided to pack his ‘magic’ Filofax just in case – he had no idea why he felt the need to do this, but he did anyway! The ‘magic’ Filofax was rather like the Tardis used by Dr Who – it looked like a regular Filofax on the outside, and weighed in about the same, however when you opened it, the insides where huge – just like having massive mile high rings! This binder contained the details of everyone who was eligible for a present and whether they had been naughty or nice this year. Santa was very sad to think that this wonderful magical binder had been replaced in recent months by a software programme – however he shrugged his shoulders and thought that he must accept progress.
He always pretended that he didn’t enjoy his annual holiday, but he did secretly enjoy lazing on a beach, recharging his batteries, reading some good books and sometimes just letting his mind wonder. It was during one of these sessions that Santa decided to have a nostalgic browse through the ‘magic’ Filofax. It was a wonderful object in itself without counting the value of the contents. The binder was a lovely worn mid-brown leather, grown slightly shiny from years of clutching it in his hand. He nourished it from time to time with some leather restorer, but it had served him well, and was full of history. Some of the names in the book were no longer with us and he had fond memories of his adventures delivering toys all over the world for hundreds of years. He mused on some of his journeys and mishaps along the way and smiled as he read some of the letters from a bygone age.
Suddenly, he sat bolt upright as his gaze landed on a section right at the bottom of the binder – almost hidden away under the weight of entries. Now he knew where his sense of foreboding came from. Right at the back of the binder was a section for all the pets of the world – a list of all the dogs and cats, hampsters, lizards, snakes and so on, and whether they had been naughty or nice each year. Santa realised that they had not accounted for this section when setting up the new software, and that no-one had checked it this last year. This meant that for the Christmas just gone, no pet had received a gift, regardless of whether they had been good or not. Santa went cold all over – what was he to do?
Mrs Santa was just emerging from the waves after a bracing swim. ‘I’ll discuss it with her,’ thought Santa, ‘she is the most sensible person I know’. After having a chat about the situation, they decided to cut their holiday short and get back to Lapland straight away – after all they could always have another holiday – but they couldn’t get Christmas wrong!
Arriving back at headquarters, Santa immediately called an emergency meeting to explain the situation. Chief Elf was beside himself – having prided himself on being so organised and having driven forward the new software initiative, he felt wounded that he had missed something so important. He agreed that they should rely on the ‘magic’ Filofax binder this year whilst they reviewed their options on the software front. At the very least they were going to have to run the two systems in tandem for a few years – and of course what were they to do about the wonderful history the binder contained? There was a lot of thinking to be done.
New schedules were drawn up, and rather than feeling ahead of the game – they now realised that they had a lot of time to make up if they were going to incorporate all the pet toys and treats for next Christmas. This was going to mean overtime, and lots of it.
Santa climbed into bed that night and a sense of peace settled over him. He finally realised where his feelings of unease had come from and was glad to be rid of it. They had a big challenge ahead of them, but with careful planning, and hard work, they would save the day. He knew the pets would forgive him this once – assuming he made sure they had extra special toys and treats next Christmas!