Over the past few holiday seasons, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend that I haven’t been able to confirm until now. To do this, I made good use of my D.V.R. and a tryptophan hangover (too much roast beast). I binge-watched every Santa-themed movie and T.V. special that aired between Black Friday and Christmas day.

As you can imagine, there was a lot to scrutinize, hence why this article is being posted after the holidays. The dire results of my study cannot wait until next year — it may be too late by then — so I present them now in an effort to raise public awareness. Thanks to my extensive research, I have come to the stunning realization that, yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus…

…and he is dangerously incompetent.




The dude works one night a year and he never seems to get it right. He always needs help. Help from a wayward orphan, from a parent out of touch with their kids, from talking animals, walking toys, you name it. The latest instance is chronicled in How Murray Saved Christmas, described by as;

“A cranky deli owner is forced to fill in for Santa at Christmas and does a weirdly wonderful job.”

That’s right. A freakin’ deli owner can do the job at least as good if not better than jolly old Saint Nick! The Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy never seem to have trouble fulfilling their professional obligations. Only Santa.

I was stupefied when I first noticed the pattern. Horrified is more like it. How many innocent elves have been maimed on the job? How many reindeer have lost their lives due to one man’s ineptitude? I shudder to read the “____ days since last accident” sign hanging in Santa’s sweatshop.



The run-down of shows between November 27th and December 25th is a cornucopia of proof as to why the big guy will never be employee of the month.

On one station he loses his reindeer, crashes into a lake, and gets saved by a penguin (A Wish for Wings that Work). On another he’s shot out of the sky, suffers from amnesia, and has his job done by displaced zoo animals (Merry Madagascar).

Sometimes it’s a relative who temporarily takes over the family biz, such as Santa’s brother, Fred Claus, or son, Arthur Christmas. Sometimes it’s a co-worker coming to the rescue. What started with Rudolph continues with elves like Buddy and those fellas over at Prep & Landing. Most of the time it’s a total stranger filling in, everyone from Clark Griswold to Jack Skellington. There’s even a Twilight Zone episode dedicated to the chronic crisis.

As motley as this crew is, they have one all-important thing in common — They get the job done.


Each of these amateurs has been blessed with beginners luck because none have failed in their allotted task. Kris Kringle, on the other hand, is a so-called expert with centuries of experience under his belly-busting belt, yet a Christmas season hardly passes without the holiday being in jeopardy because of his incompetence. When a muppet (Elmo Saves Christmas), a simpleton (Ernest Saves Christmas), and a dimwit (Inspector Gadget Saves Christmas) can all do your job better than you, then perhaps it’s time to consider a change of career.

To be fair, it isn’t always Santa’s fault. In The Night They Saved Christmas, drilling for oil in the North Pole nearly leveled his village. Baby Stewie and Brian the dog tried to kill him in an episode of Family Guy. Nonetheless, for every thwarted assassination plot, there’s an Amazing Stories story showing Saint Nicholas thrown in jail after clumsily tripping a house alarm.

When did the man in red become the world’s most inept, accident-prone holiday icon? Has he always been this way and we’ve never noticed? What may be new to us is old news to the government. Why else would N.O.R.A.D. track his every move every Christmas Eve? They obviously consider him a W.M.D. (Weapon of Mythical Destruction)

“But Steve,” some of you may be rebuking, “Indiana Jones has sucked at his job since 1981 and people still pay to see him do it.”



True. Indy has quested for numerous treasures through numerous adventures, yet, aside from the Cross of Coronado (which took him 26 years to nab), he hasn’t actually saved anything that “belongs in a museum.” The Ark of the Covenant ended up in a dusty warehouse. The Sankara stone returned to its village home. Additionally, in order to go on these failed expeditions Jones took countless sabbaticals from his academic profession, making him the world’s worst archeologist and worst professor.

This puts him in the same sleigh as Santa, along with Homer Simpson, another ineffectual worker — at a nuclear power plant for God’s sake — who has been compromising the safety of others for 25 years. There’s a big difference, however, between those guys and Santa Claus — Indy and Homer are fictional.

What could possibly be the cause of Santa’s negligent behavior? What’s his motivation? Several theories abound.



The holiday season is a festive time celebrated with glorious feasts and mild debauchery. Is the big man drinking too much eggnog while on the clock? Is he addicted to candy canes that send him into diabetic shock? In the highly respected documentary, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, we see Santa smoking a bong. Let’s face it — It may be time to replace The 12 Days of Christmas with a 12-step program.



We’ve all read tragic headlines about elderly drivers plowing into crowds after confusing the gas and break pedals. That could be (Grand)Father Christmas — a senior citizen with deteriorating reaction time who needs to have his pilot’s license revoked for safety concerns. Every time I hear the song “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” I have to remind myself that it’s just a made-up story, though it very well could’ve been torn from a newspaper for an episode of C.S.I. North Pole.

DAVID CARUSO: “Looks like someone’s been dreaming…

(puts on ski goggles)

…of a red Christmas.”




After doing the same job for hundreds of years, Santa may simply be sick of it. Or sick of us. In Rankin/Bass’ The Year Without a Santa Claus, he calls off Christmas after losing faith in humanity.



He could’ve also grown complacent. The challenge is gone, hence his mediocre work ethic. Mediocrity, however, should not be rewarded. Not with milk and cookies. Not with worldwide fame. Otherwise, we’re teaching our children that no matter how bad you are at your job, there’s no need to fret because — much like an economy-destroying Wall Street wolf — you’ll never be fired.

That isn’t the take-away that the next generation should take away. Better that they absorb the message of Johnny Appleseed. He planted a whole bunch of apple trees. That’s hard work right there. Or Marie Curie, who discovered Thai food. That’s one delicious discovery, Marie. Instead, we praise a man who works a solitary day out of the year, and, even on that one day, is prone to tricking others into doing his work. That’s endearing if you’re Tom Sawyer, but I’ve read Tom Sawyer. I know Tom Sawyer. You, Santa, are no Tom Sawyer.




The aforementioned theories could all be legit reasons for Kringle’s abysmal work output, but there’s still one more to take into account and it’s an ugly one. When it comes right down to it, there’s the very real possibility that Santa…

…is evil.

I’m not talking about supervillain Multiple Santa from The Tick animated series, or Mr. and Mrs. Claus’ diabolical son Damien in The Hebrew Hammer. I’m talking about the real deal.



Is it only coincidence that his name is an anagram for Satan, or that “sleigh” is a homophone for “slay”? Does he deck the halls with the blood of innocents? Perhaps the phrase “hell freezes over” refers to the North Pole.

This is all speculation of course. I don’t want it to be true anymore than you, but we have to accept that it could be. Everyone knows A Christmas Carol by Dickens. I think S.C. is a fan. I don’t want to start rumors, and I’m not implying that some of these Santa-related “accidents” are fishy, but maybe… just maybe… three Ghosts of Christmas are not enough for Santa. I’m just saying.


The true miracle on 34th street is Mr. Claus not getting fired year after year. How has he pulled this off for so long — Nepotism? Blackmail? I was once pink slipped four days into a new job for not immediately (and unrealistically) matching the output of my predecessor who had two years of experience on me. Yet little Saint Nick has flunked performance reviews for centuries without suffering any consequences whatsoever.

Is Santa given an automatic pass like Sinatra was when he couldn’t remember his own songs in his twilight years? No one complained because he was Chairman of the Board. He’d earned our respect. So too has Santa, but when Frank forgot the lyrics to Witchcraft, no one had to duck for cover in avoidance of falling jingle bells or blitzed Blitzens.



Sipping a single malt while recounting Rat Pack escapades is a pretty relaxed gig. Navigating a 1,200 pound sleigh at mach 4 while routinely descending from 50,000 feet to street level (even when using Performance-Based Navigation and Optimized Profile Descent) is not.

I would feel more comfortable knowing that Santa Claus was monitoring the operation as an advisor back at N.P.M.C. (North Pole Mission Control). Keep him on as consultant. Make him Gift Giver Emeritus. Just don’t give him keys to the S-1.


Don’t get me wrong. I like big red as much as anyone on his naughty nice list. This isn’t a personal vendetta regarding an unrequited childhood gift, though I am still holding out for my Castle Grayskull playset. Nevertheless, at some point public safety must override likeability.

We have less than a year to ground Santa so let’s get on it, people. Complain to the Better Business Bureau. Write to your local congressman! Post a negative Yelp review!! The safety of our loved ones is at stake.

Canceling Christmas is not the answer. If we do that, then the Grinches win. No, we keep the tradition alive. We just get someone new to spearhead it.



FedEx or U.P.S. would do a bang-up job with the Claus route.’s standard shipping is so fast that there’s never any need to pay extra for two-day delivery. Professional pilots are an option. Turn over the reigns to military aviators like Tom “Iceman” Kazansky or James “Outlaw” Forwood. Bring captain Sully Sullenberger out of retirement. I’m just spitballing here but, how about a Dominos driver? “30 minutes or your pizza is free” is great incentive for doing the job well.

Instead of congressmen, let’s go straight to the top. To get the White House involved, all we need is 100,000 signatures. True, we couldn’t get Justin Bieber deported, but that doesn’t mean a petition isn’t worth trying. The Salvation Army’s already stationed outside every store in December so they can handle sign-ups. Bell in one hand. Clipboard in the other.

These are all just suggestions, mind you. I don’t have the final solution, which is why I’m taking appropriate precautions. I’ve read over my homeowner’s policy and thankfully can’t find any mention of liability should Claus tumble off my roof as he did in The Santa Clause trilogy. Having said that, the man’s track record turns the joyous season into a crapshoot, so for practice I built a mock-up of a one-horse open sleigh in my one-car garage. Just in case. It’s like American Ninja Warrior for lunatics, which may be redundant, but so be it.

What’s important now is that a dialog has been opened to deal with this festering problem. Moral outrage can only go so far. It’s time to take affirmative action and hold Santa accountable for any hazardous incidents that may occur in his wake.

Currently there seems to be no end in sight, as evident by I Want an Alien for Christmas. This new book, for which the film rights have already been optioned, follows Santa as he stumbles into trouble. Again. This time via alien abduction, which endangers Christmas. Again. Naturally this means that the holiday will need to be saved.


So until then, spread the word, keep your heads down, and when you have some time to kill — go mock-up a sleigh in your garage. Just in case.

Happy New Year.


COMING SOON: Sequel-Title-Itis Part III.

Additional material written by Jeremy Regan, who, when not working for “Top. Men.” or assisting yours truly, is part of Team Local 225 BBQ. Barbecue so tasty, you’ll feel like you’re on the naughty nice list. 


You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


  1. Kristen says:

    I couldn’t resist commenting. Perfectly written!

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress