By Katherine R. Dougan
On a recent evening I’m sitting at my desk in front my computer, all snug in the house with a lovely fire crackling away. Our four adopted shelter dogs are sprawled about in various positions of repose around me. I’m enjoying a cup of hot cocoa and wearing flannel pajamas while I wait for Santa to join me for our online ZOOM call. It’s a tradition he and I have had for over a decade; I get to interview him every year for a special Christmas story.
His bearded, red-cheeked face suddenly pops up on my computer monitor, and I hear the familiar “Ho! Ho! Ho!” which, as we all know, is pretty much Santa’s standard greeting. Then I do a double-take at the screen; Santa is actually wearing a Santa face mask. What a goofball! It makes me giggle, because in honor of our special online visit, I’m also wearing a Santa face mask.
He sees my face, then scrunches up his face, tilts his head, and quips, “You look ridiculous!”
Puh-lease. Really? Geez. It seems that everybody, including Santa, thinks they are a comedian. However, I’m not going to sass him back, because I like presents. Lots of presents. The old adage of don’t bite the hand that feeds you, or, in this case, don’t sass the man that brings you presents, comes to mind. After all, I am not crazy. And since I generally tip the Good-Bad scale that Santa uses to measure gift worthiness more in the “Bad” direction, I can’t afford to annoy the giant, red-suited Christmas dude.
Real cool-like, I respond: “Yo’, wazzup, Big Red?”
He raises his bushy, white eyebrows in disdain at my lame attempt to be cool, then reveals there is indeed a lot “up” with him. In addition to his usual Christmas duties, he is neck-deep in a secret mission. Of course, I absolutely must know more about this.
“I will tell you, but you can’t tell anyone,” Santa admonishes, shaking his finger at me. Of course, I tell him I won’t (wink-wink). That’s what I meant when I said I kind of tip the Good-Bad meter more toward the Bad; of course, I’m going to tell you all about Santa’s secret mission - right here, right now.
Santa told me he was recently approached by the World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Government for his special mission. After chatting with them, Santa agreed to join “Operation Warp Speed Strategy for Distributing a COVID-19 Vaccine,” which is the plan the U.S. Health and Human Services presented to Congress for COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
Think about it. Tapping Santa to spearhead a mobilization mission like this is perfect, since he accomplishes worldwide distribution of gifts in one night every year. This year, once a vaccine is approved and authorized by the FDA, Santa will distribute vaccine and supplies to organizations that partner with state, local and tribal health departments, territories, Tribes and federal entities.
Additionally, Santa plays a key role in providing cold storage for large quantities of the vaccine at his South Pole storage facility. Yes, I said South Pole. We all know that Santa, Mrs. Claus and his elves live at the North Pole. However, North Pole temperatures, which range from minus 45 to minus 15 degrees Fahrenheit, are almost balmy in comparison to temperatures at the South Pole, where the average winter temperature is minus 79 degrees Fahrenheit. Brrrrr. That’s way too cold for people; however, it’s perfect for storing a vaccine that needs to be kept at an extremely cold temperature.
Santa’s high-tech computer technology and detailed distribution records of everyone in the world also comes in handy for the secret mission, as he has the names and ages of everyone in the world on his list.
Not only is Santa playing a key role in storing and distributing vaccines, but, also, he’s on the front lines to deliver pediatric and adult vaccine kits, which contain needles, syringes, alcohol pads, vaccination cards, and PPE equipment for those doing the vaccinations.
So, 2020 will definitely be Santa’s busiest year ever.
Even though he is really busy, he asked me to assure everyone that nobody will be forgotten. He also said that if you don’t get everything you wished for, it is simply because Santa is so busy with COVID-19 relief that he might just have been short of space in his sleigh.
Although you can’t visit him like normal this year to sit on his lap and chat, he reminds you that Santa sees everything and knows everything. To be extra sure, as always, tell your parents what you want, just in case Santa has questions.
While I was talking with Santa, I put in a good word for everybody: I told him you all have been good this year. So, you know this means that everyone absolutely MUST be good.
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and remind you again to be good, be kind to everyone, and, most importantly, stay safe.