A Fantasy Before Christmas
by Cal Montgomery
'Twas the first of October, and all 'round the Pole,
The Voc. staff were writing the wintertime goals:
"Sam will assemble eight racecars an hour,"
and "Doris will learn how to box up trick flowers."
Behavioural Services (B. S. for short)
Was designing a super new starchart for Mort,
To curb Mort's predilection for "elfish N. C."
(That's non, dash, compliance, for laymen like me).
And Elspeth's continued "plotting activities"
Were discussed at a staffing on "Troubling Proclivities."
All in all, thought the Voc. staff, the whole of Group J
Could be programmed to handle their parts for The Day.
Then when Santa had loaded his sleigh full of toys
That the elves had assembled for girls and for boys,
The community leaders might possibly say
That elves, even elves!! had a key role to play!
Meanwhile, back at the ranch (as they say),
Mort organised almost all of Group J.
At bowling, one Sunday, they each took a turn
Talking to Elspeth and trying to learn
Why it was that she thought it was time for the elves
To be setting their personal goals for themselves,
Rather than having BS ones assigned.
And though one of the elves (Annabelle) did decline
To participate further, the rest of them rallied.
At lunch afterwards, over sandwich and salad,
They wrote up a statement, set out their demands,
Making sure to connect them with not "ors" but "ands":
"We, the Elves of Group Jay, would like to engage
In negotiation for a living wage,
In preparation for moving away
From Resident Services. Moreover, we say
That the option to live as we will is a right,
Free of BS restrictions and staff oversight!"
With the easy part done, they began to arrange
For the actions they'd need to effect all this change.
'Twas the first of November, and all 'round the Pole,
The Voc. staff reviewed all the wintertime goals.
Sam's racecar assembly was going quite well,
But Mort's non-compliance was going to hell.
Worse, it seemed to be spreading to all of Group J,
Save only Annabelle, Sam, and Renee.
Production decreasing, the stress levels rose.
"How could this happen?" Santa wanted to know.
"How could my elves, whom I've cared for and loved,
Turn on me, viciously, thoughtlessly of
The pressures I'm facing? Just two months to go!
Would they leave me on Christmas with nothing but snow?"
'Twas the start of December;
the workshop was still.
The workers were all at the Icicle CIL.
Santa was watching reruns of the 'thon.
The Voc. staff dejectedly munched on a flan.
Behavioural Services, to control all the shirkers,
Had formed an alliance with Voice of Elf Workers.
As the VEW fought the many with BS and lies
("Elves need the workshop!" their rallying cry),
Elspeth and Mort and the rest of their crew
Faxed their press release to the ten o'clock news.
'Twas the night before Christmas,
and all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The children were nestled, all snug, in their beds,
While visions of sugarplums danced in their heads.
And I in my kerchief, and my new boyfriend Glenn,
Had just settled in and turned on CNN
When what to our wondering eyes should appear,
But a miserable Santa and eight picketing reindeer!
"We're striking in protest," announced one captioned "Comet".
"The conditions the elves describe would make you vomit!
For menial work, they get almost no pay.
And they're not allowed out to buy things, anyway,
Excepting on weekends, depending on staffing,
While Santa, all jolly, just sits around laughing!"
Cut now to Elspeth, addressing the crowd.
Cut now to Mort, who is chanting real loud.
Cut now to Annabelle, now come around.
As the VEW folks berate her, she's holding her ground.
And I heard her exclaim, as the camera panned right,
"Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good fight!"
This poem originally appeared in the Nov.-Dec. 1999 joint issue of The Ragged Edge and Mouth magazine, The Gag.
Cal Montgomery is a regular contributor to Ragged Edge. Read her humorous essay, A Very Grave Matter.