Note: In case you don't read The North Pole Gazette, here's a reprint of an important story that just ran in that fine newspaper.
By Sven Laplander
It's always quiet at Santa's Workshop in the first half of January. Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus are in Hawaii, and the elves are sleeping.
But not one elf. Smizzle, the lead choo-choo train builder, kept his eyes open long enough to call for an end to Shut Up, Make Toys (SUMT), Santa's long-standing policy on gay and lesbian employees.
Under the policy, Santa can't ask if an elf is gay, elves can't say they're gay, and jolliness shall reign. SUMT has been in place since 1854, when Santa and a committee of homosexual elves hammered out the compromise over cocoa and sugar cookies.
"I didn't like it then, and I don't like it now," Smizzle said, as he sat in the elf cafeteria. "I refuse to hide who I am anymore. It's unnatural. And it makes me so cranky I hardly ever whistle while I work."
Smizzle emphasized that, in his view, this is an issue of fundamental fairness. "I do the same high-quality work as everyone else. I work dawn to dusk like everyone else. I wear the same curly felt shoes as everyone else.
"I just happen to be gay. And that's not something I should have to hide," said the elf between yawns.
He added, "Bottom line, I've had it up to my jingle bells with this discriminatory SUMT."
Smizzle admitted his call to end SUMT was inspired by the decision of the United States of America to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT), its well-known policy concerning gays and lesbians in the military.
"Look, if they can finally stop discriminating, then surely we can," said Smizzle. "I mean, that's a country where a quarter of the people think their president was born in another country. We're behind them? It's mortifying."
A survey has never been conducted, so it's hard to know how other elves feel about Shut Up, Make Toys. But a veteran doll-maker, Duzzle, struggled out of his deep sleep to express the view that SUMT should stay.
Duzzle said, "If I know the person handing me doll clothes is gay, it might cause me to lose my focus. I might put a dirndl on a GI Joe, and then where would we be?"
Smizzle said he's talked with some of the reindeer, and they're supportive. "Really, all they care about is reindeer games," he said.
Reached by phone at his vacation condo on Maui, Santa said he would deal with SUMT when he got home, "and not a moment before. You've already made me miss my stand-up paddling lesson."
Mrs. Claus sent a subsequent e-mail, explaining that SUMT was established in a different era, that the world has changed, and she personally believes the policy should be abandoned. But protocol must be observed, she insisted, and any talks between concerned parties must take place over coffee and fruitcake.
If SUMT remains in place, Smizzle said he'll leave Santa's Workshop. "It's the last thing I want to do. This has been the only world I've ever known. I love my work, and being part of something big. But I gotta be me."
Then Smizzle fell asleep on the table, the elf's pointy ears almost touching his tea and gingerbread.