Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Restructuring

Yes, the economy is still in the toilet. Yes, Republicans and Democrats can both hang their heads in shame for their shared responsibility (although it's likely that no current politician knows what "shame" is). Businesses everywhere are trying to figure out how to cope with the new economic realities...some by ruthless cutbacks, and some by merging with other businesses in the hopes of becoming Too Big To Fail, and thus qualifying for government handouts at the taxpayers' expense.

Christmas is no different.

Here are two items from my vast files which address this issue: one dealing with cutbacks; the other with mergers. Grab yourself an egg nog, give thanks to the original authors, and read on...


From: North Pole Enterprises, Human Resources Division

Subject: Management Initiatives

To: All North Pole Personnel

1. The recent announcement that Donner and Blitzen have elected to take the early reindeer retirement package has triggered a good deal of concern about whether they will be replaced, and about other restructuring decisions at the North Pole.

2. Streamlining was appropriate in view of the reality that the North Pole no longer dominates the season's gift distribution business. Home shopping channels and mail order catalogues have diminished Santa's market share and he could not sit idly by and permit further erosion of the profit picture.

3. The reindeer downsizing was made possible through the purchase of a late model Japanese sled for the CEO's annual trip. Improved productivity from Dasher and Dancer, who summered at the Harvard Business School, is anticipated and should take up the slack with no discernible loss of service. Reduction in reindeer will also lessen airborne environmental emissions for which the North Pole has been cited and received unfavorable press.

4. I am pleased to inform you and yours that Rudolph's role will not be disturbed. Tradition still counts for something at the North Pole. Management denies, in the strongest possible language, the earlier leak that Rudolph's nose got that way not from the cold, but from substance abuse. Calling Rudolph "a lush who was into the sauce and never did pull his share of the load" was an unfortunate comment, made by one of Santa's helpers and taken out of context at a time of year when he is known to be under great stress.

5. As we consider further restructuring options, today's global challenges require the North Pole to continue to look for better, more competitive steps. Effective immediately, the following economy measures will be implemented in the "Twelve Days of Christmas" subsidiary:

a. The Partridge will be retained, but the pear tree never turned out to be the cash crop we projected. It will be replaced by a plastic hanging plant, providing considerable savings in maintenance.

b. The Two Turtle Doves represent a redundancy that is simply not cost effective. In addition, their romance during working hours could not be condoned. The positions are therefore eliminated.

c. The Three French Hens will be retained. After all, everyone loves the French.

d. The Four Calling Birds will be replaced by an automated voice mail system, with a call waiting option. An analysis is underway to determine who the birds have been calling, how often and how long they talked.

e. The Five Golden Rings have been put on hold by the Board of Directors. Maintaining a portfolio based on one commodity could have negative implications for institutional investors. Diversification into other precious metals as well as a mix of T-Bills and high technology stocks appear to be in order.

f. The Six Geese a-Laying are a luxury we can no longer afford. It has long been felt that the production rate of one egg per goose per day is an example of the decline in productivity. Three geese will be let go, and an upgrading in the selection procedure by personnel will assure management that from now on every goose it gets will be a good one.

g. The Seven Swans a-Swimming is obviously a number chosen in better times. The function is primarily decorative. Mechanical swans are on order. The current swans will be retrained to learn some new strokes and therefore enhance their outplacement.

h. As you know, the Eight Maids a-Milking unit has been under heavy scrutiny by the EEOC. A male/female balance in the workforce is being sought. The more militant maids consider this a dead-end job with no upward mobility. Automation of the process may permit the maids to try a-Mending, a-Mentoring or a-Mulching.

i. The Nine Ladies Dancing function will be phased out as the current dancers grow older and can no longer do the steps.

j. Ten Lords a-leaping is excessive. The high cost of Lords plus the expense of international air travel prompted the Compensation Committee to suggest replacing this group with Ten Out-of-Work Political Appointees. While leaping ability may be sacrificed, the savings are significant because we expect an oversupply of unemployed Republican political appointees in the coming year.

k. Eleven Pipers Piping and Twelve Drummers Drumming indicate that the band is getting too big. A substitution with a string quartet, a cutback on new music, and no uniforms will produce savings which will be reflected in our bottom line.

l. We can expect a substantial reduction in assorted people, fowl, animals and other related expenses. Though incomplete, studies indicate that stretching deliveries over twelve days is inefficient. If we can drop ship in one day, service levels will be improved.

6. The lawsuit filed by the attorney's association seeking expansion to include the legal profession ("Thirteen Lawyers a-Suing") is pending, and the eventual results will be addressed by separate memorandum.

7. Lastly, it is possible that deeper cuts may be necessary in the future to remain competitive. Should that happen, the Board will request a management analysis of the Snow White Division to see if seven is the optimum number of dwarfs.

Further reductions, if necessary, will be announced by separate correspondence.



Continuing the current trend of large-scale mergers and acquisitions, it was announced today at a press conference that Christmas and Hanukkah will merge. An industry source said that the deal had been in the works for about 1300 years.

While details were not available at press time, a source close to the merger discussions said that the overhead cost of having twelve days of Christmas and eight days of Hanukkah had become prohibitive for both sides. The merger will allow the world to enjoy consistently high-quality service during a new holiday period which will tentatively be known as The Fifteen Days of Chrismukah.

Massive layoffs are expected, with Lords a-Leaping and Maids a-Milking being the hardest hit. As part of the conditions of the agreement, the letters on the dreydl, currently in Hebrew, will be replaced by Latin, thus becoming unintelligible to a wider audience.

Also, instead of translating to “A great miracle happened there,” the message on the dreydl will be replaced by the more generic “Miraculous stuff happens.”

In exchange, it is believed that Jews will be allowed to use Santa Claus and his vast merchandising resources for buying and delivering their gifts.

One of the sticking points holding up the agreement for at least three hundred years was the question of whether Jewish children could leave milk and cookies for Santa even after having eaten meat for dinner. A breakthrough came last year, when Oreos were finally declared to be Kosher.

All sides appeared pleased with the agreement.

A spokesman for Christmas, Inc., declined to say whether a takeover of Kwanzaa might not be in the works as well. He merely pointed out that, were it not for the independent existence of Kwanzaa, the merger between Christmas and Hanukkah might indeed be seen as an unfair cornering of the holiday market.

Fortunately for all concerned, he said, Kwanzaa will help to maintain the competitive balance. He then closed the press conference by leading all present in a rousing rendition of “Oy Vey, All Ye Faithful.”

It's time to get moving...there are onions to be chopped, gifts to be wrapped, and a house to clean. Agnes and I wish each and every one of you the happiest and safest of holidays. We can afford one lousy day of peace on earth, can't we?

Have a great Christmas Eve. More thoughts tomorrow.



The Mistress of the Dark said...

Just wishing you and yours a merry christmas. Did you get your links for the mixes?

John said...

Merry Christmas

Mike said...

"The Fifteen Days of Chrismukah"

I like that. And let's say that these days will only be M-F. On the first two days you get off work 1 hour early. Next two, two hours. Until the 15th the whole day.

I'm sure we'll find room for this on our religion calendar.

Serena said...

Wonderful post, and quite apropos in today's economic climate. Merry Christmas, Bilbo.

fiona said...

Happy Christmas Eve Bilbo and Agnes x