Open Letter from the Chief South Pole Elf – Under The Scope

The Really Good Gift – The Observer
December 1, 2022
Widespread Entergy power outage across Thibodaux area
December 1, 2022

Dear Worldwide Christmas Shoppers, Especially You Indiscriminate Ones:

I urge you to be more thoughtful and conservative about purchasing gifts this holiday season. Because of high prices? Because of economic recession? No! Rather, it’s because I’m tired of it, I’ve been short-handed since the pandemic began, and frankly, we’re running out of space here with all this ice melting—which you have caused.

Yes, in case you never knew–and who blames you, with all those stop-action animated films about the red-nosed nonsense going on at Earth’s other pole–we Elves at the South Pole are stuck not preparing holly-jolly gifts for holiday delivery but rather dealing with jeepers-creepers stuff that no one wants. That’s right: Here at the butt-end of the compass, we Southern Elves serve the Great Holiday Returns Desk. This is not the Island of Misfit Toys. Rather, this is the Continent of Mis-toyed Fits, and all the stuff the world returns must fit here in our cold storage. We can’t re-sell it, we can’t re-gift it, we can’t recycle it, and we can’t pump it down a salt dome or a fracking well. So we freeze it. We indefinitely hold this waste of planetary resources beneath our icy crust and have done so for the past few centuries. And our storage space is shrinking, which makes all the seals and penguins and albatrosses angry and very noisy.

Remember your New Year’s Resolution not to spend and buy so much stuff for Christmas? No you don’t! We South Pole Elves have to work 24-7-365 because of you. Why? Because of Black Friday, Storm-the-doors Saturday, Blood-letting Sunday, and all those blue-light-special days about which your loved ones will never appreciate the life you risked to go cheap on them. So the next time you try to act cute and buy an Elf-on-the-Shelf doll not because you need it but because you think someone wants it, know that it’s a North Pole Elf you’re mocking and not a South-Poler. Don’t buy it just to buy it: Do you know how many Prime Minister-on-a-Shelf dolls got returned from England in the past few years? I hope that you do. 

Speaking of avoiding things, here’s some holiday buying advice from us severely overworked Return Elves. First, buy for affection toward the recipient rather than excitement for getting a sale. Second, know that after the cartoon age, kids don’t like to receive clothes or food as gifts, which they consider essential for life and not a real holiday gift. Third, when buying clothes for yourself, if you gotta ask “Does this make my [body part] look big?” then you already know the answer, so don’t buy it. Fourth, burn your unwanted romantic gifts instead of returning them; we elves have feelings and unfulfilled needs just like you, but, because of you, we can’t take a day off to cry or drink them away. Fifth, if you return a gift card, then you’ve missed the whole point. Finally, don’t use tape when packaging returns; it sticks to and ruins our furry uniforms.

Further, if you live in that special region of the northern hemisphere called PoV Country, here’s additional advice. Don’t buy wool clothing, especially for children; you know darn well it’s gonna be warm and humid every other day in winter. Don’t package your returns while cooking holiday gumbo; clothes and fabrics that smell of burnt onions and flour make the penguins sick. And try to speak clearly through your thick Cajun-French accents when calling about returns; our receptionists can’t tell if you’re cursing or trying to return silverware. 

Remember: The more you spend, the more you return, and the more you return, the more we need to store. And our space is melting away. Any idea what’s under this big slab of ice? Crustaceans that make that show “Deadliest Catch” look like getting a manicure. Not to mention frozen prehistoric caveman furs from Patagonia—and not the Patagonia that sells outdoor clothing but rather the southernmost part of the South American continent–rocky land of glaciers and fjords. And speaking of fjords, you Scandinavians need to stop returning your Explorers and F-150s because we can’t take them: We got no room, and the antifreeze turns solid and busts the engine block as soon as they cross 60 degrees latitude. 

The irony of your current situation is this: If our storage space continues to melt, it’s us who will helplessly return unwanted gifts to you–via the slow gyres of ocean currents. You may never need to shop on land for gifts ever again. Merchandise will just wash ashore for you. Talk about re-gifting! We have a common Elvish saying about you down here: One day you’re unwrapping a box with yearnings and the next day you’re at a box store with returnings. Think about it.

Sincerely yours, 

Chief Elf Officer (C.E.O.)

S. Pole Operations, Antarctica