Yesterday, Hugo started telling me about the letter to Santa he wrote in school. I was folding clothes, only half listening to him ramble on about video games, when he said something about asking to borrow an elf so he could have new toys year round.
“Okay. That’s pretty smart,” I said, “but that’s slave labor.”
“No, Mom. I would pay Santa for him, and I would pay him too.”
“With what money? Do you have some secret hoard that I don’t know about?”
“No, but he wouldn’t need much anyway. And once I run out of money, I’ll give him back to Santa.”
“So he’ll be Santa’s slave again?”
“It’s okay,” said Hugo. “He likes working for Santa. The North Pole is way better than where he’s from.”
I probably should have stopped asking questions at this point, but I was starting to think this might become a teaching moment. Slavery is not just an American History topic; there are still people being sold for all sorts of reasons throughout the world, not to mention those people who work for so little income they mine as well be slaves. I don’t want my son thinking any of that is okay.
“Where do elves come from?”
“The H-E-double-L place I’m not supposed to say.”
“The ‘H-E-double-L place.'”
“Yes,” said Hugo. “You know: the Underworld.”
“So that makes it okay for them to become slaves?”
“Well, the Underworld elves are evil. They build evil robots that kill people. Santa saves them and turns them good.”
The teaching moment has disappeared. Now, I’m just interested in the story and where he’ll take it next.
“Santa magically turns the elves nice,” I ask. “How does he do that?”
“He’s so jolly. They just can’t help it.”
“So…Santa’s jolliness saves the world from homicidal robots built by evil elves in Hell?”
“That is so much better than The Night Before Christmas.”
“I know, right!”