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For the second year in a row Santa has offer to govern the United States it was learned today.

"Considering it is the basic purpose of the US government to give things away, I think I do a better job at that than the President or the Congress," Santa explained at a press conference at the North Pole.

One immediate effect of Santa running the United States would be that Christmas would become a year-round event. "Christmas is the engine that drives the US economy," Santa noted, "and I would drop all pretense of the Christmas season starting around Halloween."

The Christmas season would start January 2nd under Santa's government.

"Just think of all the economic benefits and new jobs that would be created by that," Santa said.

Congress would be replaced by Santa's Elves. "None of them would be interested in taking campaign contributions," Santa added.

US Senator Hillary Clinton scoffed at the idea of Santa taking over the country. "We've already got a guy in the White House who think's he's Santa," she said.


NORTH POLE: Santa announced today that he would sell shares in his North Pole Toy Corporation on December 24th.

"This may be the most unusual IPO in Wall Street history," said Abner Fillbreck, chief analyst for the toy industry at Morgan Stanley investment bankers.

"I'm sure that Toys R Us will file some sort of objection on the grounds of antitrust violations."

"We don't care if Santa wants to sell shares in his toy factory as long as he buys all his toys from us," said a spokesman for Toys R Us.

Santa countered with an explanation that all his toys are hand-made by elves.

"Sounds like a labor law violation to us," said the Toys R Us spokesman.

The unusual aspect of Santa's IPO is that he will take cookies and milk in lieu of cash for stock in his corporation.


NEAR THE NORTH POLE: BACKGROUND: Santa's Workshop turned up missing. Due to the effects of global warming, the ice at the North pole melted, and the Workshop vanished. The Canadian Coast Guard immediately dispatched a search vessel to the North Pole to look for Santa.

After the Canadian rescue submarine reported hearing the sound of tapping from the wreckage of Santa's Workshop, which is lying at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean beneath the North Pole, a special recovery submarine was dispatched to the wreckage.

Russian authorities also offered to assist in the attempt to save Santa and his elves. "We are hopeful we can rescue Santa before December 25th," said a spokesman for the international recovery team.

US President George W. Bush took a break from his attempts at convincing himself things are going well in Iraq, and offered his prayers for Santa.


Every year about this time Christmas tree lots spring up on every vacant lot. And families happily buy their trees and haul them home in their station wagons or on top of their cars, to be decorated in the finest holiday regalia.

When I was a kid, the advent of the Christmas tree lots sparked the annual fight over whether or not we'd even have a tree in our house. The problem was my father was Catholic, and my mom was Jewish.

They obviously got married without any serious discussion about religious matters, and it wasn't until the first year that their child wanted a Christmas tree that full scale religious warfare broke out in the house.

Dad, of course, expected a tree. After all, he celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ. Mom, however, viewed a Christmas tree as some sort of pagan ritual and anyway, her parents wouldn't set foot in her home if there was a Christmas tree inside it. Since her parents lived in Detroit and we lived in Texas, my dad wasn't too worried about the absence of in-laws between early December and January 1st. If he'd had his way, there'd have been a Christmas tree up all year if it kept the in-laws away.

By the time I was 5, my parents had reached a semi-compromise, being every other year there'd be a Christmas tree. The compromise also included my going to parochial school, and attending shul at a Jewish temple on the weekends.

This quickly led to a rather confused understanding of matters religious from my perspective. Five days a week Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary (along with the Father, Son and Holy Ghost) dominated my religious up-bringing. And on Saturdays all of that was countered by lessons from the Talmud. Jesus...just another Jew. Messiah? No way. The Messiah hadn't come yet.

Then my parents got the bright idea of moving to Arizona, to live near my mom's parents, who had previously retired to the Southwest. The every-other-year Christmas tree compromise ended with a tree every year, and my grandfather didn't seem to mind. However, I distinctly remember my grandmother standing next to one of the trees and screwing up her face in serious disgust at her daughter's lack of resolve in adhering to the mandates of Jewish mothers to bring their children up in the Jewish faith, and thoroughly inculcate them with a sense of overwhelming guilt.

And I got to go to "normal" school, meaning a public institution without people dressed in black who carried rulers around to swat one on the palm if you screwed up.

But the Christian indoctrination didn't cease. American public schools in those days were as thoroughly religious as parochial schools. Not only was prayer common, the month of December was spent learning Christmas carols, making paper Santa Clauses, and praying for Santa to leave a brand new bike under the tree.

While I entered public school with a thoroughly schizophrenic attitude about religion, I discovered many Jewish kids just encountering the reality that they were minorities in a Christian society. And they had to learn to sing"Joy to the World" and "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" whether they liked it or not. I had the one and only advantage I can remember from elementary school days...I already knew the words.

Many years later raising my own kids in Judaism, the tree controversy flared up again. The pressure to conform and to celebrate the majority holiday is so great, it is hard not to have a tree. A living room looks quite bare in December without a twinkling tree in the corner.

But, rationalizing the tree a bit, it is really a pagan symbol of religions before Christianity, and has nothing to do with Christ. It is simply a symbol of the end of one year and the beginning of another. Of course, my mother-in-law managed to screw up her face with the same disgust upon seeing our family's first tree as my grandmother had 30 years prior.

Reform Judaism has been evolving rapidly since I was a child. I don't remember much singing. Now everyone sings. Cantors even play guitars. I guess sooner or later, the rabbis will figure out how to adopt the decorated pine tree into the religion, so the religious strife that breaks out in mixed marriages every year, and in the homes of families with kids who can't help but have a tree, will end.

You've got to hand it to those Christians. Maybe they can't sell Jesus Christ to the Jews. But they have sure made inroads into many homes with their trees.