by Greg Schwem

The elves gathered around their home monitors at 2:40 p.m., per Santa’s emailed instructions. Unable to congregate in the main workshop or communicate face to face with their boss since COVID-19 struck the North Pole in March 2020, they wearily clicked the Zoom link Santa provided.
Soon, Santa’s grainy image appeared. The elves were perplexed. Normally Santa chose a holiday-themed background; there were hundreds to choose from since Mrs. Claus had installed a green screen in the garage housing Santa’s sleigh. But this time Santa sat at his kitchen table, a blank wall behind him. The table contained a legal pad and a half-consumed glass of eggnog.
“I come to you with not great news,” Santa began.
Yes, COVID-19 had caused supply chain issues, but the elves had pivoted and were still on track to produce the Marvel action figures, the Harry Potter Lego sets and the Jurassic World Super Colossal Tyrannosaurus rex toys that dotted kids’ online wish lists in 2021. Maybe the news involved the T. rex. It was no secret that Santa had added some “COVID pounds.” So, lugging dinosaurs down chimneys would be a tall order this Christmas Eve.
“This has been a very challenging year,” Santa continued.
“Well duh,” an elf responded, careful to first ensure his microphone was muted.
“The market has changed, and we have to change with it,” Santa said. “Some kids, particularly older ones, are opting for ‘experiences’ rather than toys. Try as we might, we can’t manufacture whale watching excursions and hot air balloon rides from the workshop.”
“That’s what gift cards are for,” another elf mumbled.
“Excuse me?” Santa said.
“Nothing, sir. That was my dog,” the elf replied.
“We are laying off about 15% of the workforce,” Santa said, removing his bifocals for emphasis. Audible gasps were heard, and a few elves responded with elf profanities, the most popular being, “Holy Snickerdoodle!”
“If you are on this call, you are part of the unlucky group,” Santa said.
His words hit the elves like the weight of a falling Christmas tree. How could Santa be so cruel? Hadn’t he learned anything from CEO Vishal Garg? On Dec. 1, the mortgage lending company’s founder terminated more than 900 staffers via Zoom. In his address, Garg said it was the “second time he had to do this.” The elves could never remember Santa doing anything similar and many had been the jolly man’s faithful helpers for upward of 300 years.
Garg’s video quickly went viral, forcing him to take time off, “effective immediately,” and putting him on numerous naughty lists for life. It didn’t take long for Santa’s address to experience a similar fate. CNN obtained a copy and, that night, Anderson Cooper conducted an EXCLUSIVE interview with fired elf Tinsel.
“I had to inform my wife and 37 kids,” Tinsel told Cooper. “We trusted Santa. Most of my kids were looking forward to the day they could join the workforce. Not anymore.”
“What are you going to do now?” Cooper asked.
“Not sure,” Tinsel replied. “There aren’t a lot of opportunities at the North Pole outside of toy making. But I’m putting my resume on LinkedIn tomorrow.”
The next day, rumors of a “toxic culture” in Santa’s workshop began to surface. One elf promised to produce emails of Santa calling the elves “lazy” and “not worth their weight in candy canes.” Lawyers stood at the ready, forcing Santa to issue a carefully crafted apology, courtesy of his marketing team.
“I failed to show the appropriate amount of appreciation and respect for all you have done,” the apology stated. “I shall try to do better. Until then, Merry Christmas.”
Santa’s offer of two month’s severance pay was generous but most elves reached for comment said they were meeting with financial advisers to discuss their futures.
Kids be warned; the Great Elf Retirement may soon be upon us.
(Greg Schwem is a corporate stand-up comedian and author of two books: “Text Me If You’re Breathing: Observations, Frustrations and Life Lessons From a Low-Tech Dad” and the recently released “The Road To Success Goes Through the Salad Bar: A Pile of BS From a Corporate Comedian,” available at Visit Greg on the web at
You’ve enjoyed reading, and laughing at, Greg Schwem’s monthly humor columns in Senior Living News. But did you know Greg is also a nationally touring stand-up comedian? And he loves to make audiences laugh about the joys, and frustrations, of growing older. Watch the clip and, if you’d like Greg to perform at your senior center or senior event, contact him through his website at