Saturday, November 23, 2013

Servants of Santa Claus

By James A. Edgerton. December 23, 1909

       The usual conception of Santa Claus is that of a rather innocent, unsophisticated, though benevolent old gentleman who visits all the houses in Christendom the night of Dec. 24 and leaves presents for all good children and even remembers some who are not so good. But this idea fails to do the busy old saint full justice. As a matter of fact, he has to be quite up to date to attend his numerous customers. He is so much a man of affairs that it is necessary for him to adopt modern methods. Nowadays it is essential for every large business to be carried out through an army of assistants and deputies, and who, pray, has a larger business than Santa Claus? When he first started in the Christmas line it might have been possible for him to make a personal visit to all the homes where his gifts were expected, but now all that is changed. So he drafts the expressman, the messenger boy, the postman, the delivery man and a whole lot of other folks into his service. 
       For example, he appoints as deputies at least half a million extra expressmen in the United States alone. Ordinarily the express companies have about that number of employees, but during the two weeks before Christmas, when Santa calls on them to carry so many of his packages, they have to double their forces. To gain an idea of the immensity of the burdens the old gentleman imposes on them a few figures are necessary. The Christmas packages delivered by the express companies in the city of New York alone amount to over two million and in Chicago, and Philadelphia about a million and a half each, in Boston over a million and in other cities a proportionate number. When it is reflected that this is an average of nearly one package for every man, woman and child and that there are something over eighty millions of men, women and children in Uncle Sam's domain, the stupendous proportions of this Christmas business can be realized. On account of the expense of sending packages by express it is estimated that few if any of these Christmas bundles are worth less then $2.00, while some of them are valued at hundreds of dollars. It is thus seen that the Christmas business handled by the express companies alone represents a value of hundreds of millions.
       This does not take into account that great number of bundles carried by the messenger boys. In the four cities above mentioned these amount to nearly a half million in number. The jovial old saint could scarcely get along without their help.
       In addition, it is necessary for Santa Claus to enlist the services of an army of extra store clerks, delivery wagons and teamsters. It can readily be seen that for a couple of weeks he is about the biggest business man on earth. If his army were one of war rather than peace he could conquer the world. 
       Then he musters in a large array of Salvation Army and Volunteer lads and lasses to gather and cook Christmas dinners for the poor and to help distribute his presents in the tenement districts. He never forgets the needy.
       But among his great array of deputies let us not forget the postman. Who has not seen the faithful servant staggering under his great loads on Christmas morning? The business done by Uncle Sam's post office for the two weeks before Christmas is just about double what it is at ordinary times. All this is because of Santa Claus, so the extra clerks and postmen needed must be credited up to him.
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