The Committee with Responsibility for Ensuring Seasonal Enjoyment

by Iris Pearson

Thank you very much for coming here today,
I must say you’re looking well.
Not tired for the time of year,
Perhaps you’ve lost some weight?
Good Heavens! Have mince pie prices really
Risen by quite so much?
And what a shame, I do recall
They are your favourite food.

I hope your journey wasn’t lengthy,
Not much traffic up there, I expect.
And the snow, it didn’t hold you up?
Five metres!? Well, I suppose you’re used to it by now.
Were you able to park – Oh, I see, it is not something that
You “park”. Yes, of course.
Eliza, could you pop outside and check
That driveways of neighbours are not being blocked…
Oh, it’s alright, you’ve left it hovering.
Good.

So. No doubt you are familiar with
The role of this committee. We are here entirely to ensure
The smooth running of the Season.
My expertise lies in the area of
Recruiting helpers. But Crisis Management, in all its guises,
Also falls to me…I sent you ones who could not sew?
I had no idea of the importance!
We test them only on painting and woodwork,
Eliza, might you make a note and
Procedures can be Amended.

…Well that, I might venture, was before my time,
The proposal of a Change of Date.
Our previous chairman, felt strongly that
For carol singers, a summer date would benefit
Their operations out of doors.
We are always looking to make improvements
But I suppose not one of the better suggestions.
Common sense prevailed in the end.

The reason we have asked you here
Convened this Highly Unusual meeting
Is because of the irregular….circumstances
Of last night. The absence of
A Particular Character.
You must acknowledge that you are
A figurehead.
You can only imagine the fall-out there’s been.
It really reflects incredibly badly on the Committee,
And on me personally too, I might add.

The call-centre has been inundated with
Weeping children, distressed parents,
Over-wrought vicars.
The Committee is compelled to record its collective shock.
So I must enquire where you were last night
And ask you to reflect on your
Responsibilities.

Last night? Really! Did you catch anything?
They are rather large for a hook and line.
But to choose last night? Whatever were you thinking?
No. No! I cannot agree.
Witness the response we have had this morning.
Witness the multitudinous sacks of mail you get
In the Run-Up.

Surely the letters alone demonstrate how important
You are to them.
How many is it, typically? Two – three hundred sacks?
One? No, I mean, altogether, combined, not every day.
One?  One sack?…
One – letter??

Well, all I can say is, this year, there must have been
Some mistake, some hold-up, some glitch in the system.
Eliza, kindly make another note and pass it to
The Postal Procedures Committee.
You recognise, of course, that this must be some anomaly.
A bucking of the trend.
No? The letters really have been in such decline?
Might we dwell on why this might be?

Well, you may have a point, to some extent.
Indulgences do seem to be,
More commonplace.
When my son wants something he has to have it straight away.
Anticipation, these days, is anathema.
But surely you cannot maintain that children no longer need
Presents at this time of year?

Should we perhaps be considering
Whether your offering is a little outdated?
I am aware of your family’s traditions,
That they have been doing their duty
For thousands of years.
But you can’t say you haven’t together received
Appropriate levels of compensation, not to mention
Gratitude, iconic status, even.
I think we must all acknowledge that.

But, this, in turn, brings, responsibilities, Sir.
Your actions last night were grave.
You can’t just leave: think of the children! Remember duty!
Oh, they do need you.
Why else were they bawling into phones from first light?

But that’s just children for you.
I’m sure they really are all satisfied.
People have different ways of showing it.

In my view, if I may venture, you are giving up
Far too easily.
We want you to continue with your duties.
It is important to our overall service.
And imagine if we were to discover
This has all been nothing more than problems with post.
We’ll all feel silly making hasty decisions.

Focusing now on what exactly went wrong –
Last night, roughly speaking, how many presents in total
Did you deliver?
No, I mean, overall – am I using the wrong terminology?
Is the verb here not ‘delivered’?
You and your helpers combined?

None. None! I can hardly believe…I am amazed the response hasn’t been
Even more ferocious.
None. I can hardly bear to reflect upon
Those disappointed…
Did you set off? Was it a problem of transportation?
You didn’t even pack the sleigh.

I think, at this juncture, you need to explain, step by step,
What Happened.
Where you were last night.
Yes, the sight of the Northern lights is certainly
Magnificent.
But surely not novel to someone who lives where you do.
More appropriate times, summer perhaps,
When you could have stopped off and seen them without –
Gosh, you do work hard. I had no idea.
But the Lights are no match for the delighted faces of
The Children.

I think I speak for the whole Committee when I say
This whole affair has come as quite
A Shock.
We work to ensure that we never preside over such
A Hiccup.
From this vantage point it is hard to see how
The damage to reputation and expectation
Can be undone.

But, for now let us focus on what can be done to ensure
Improvements in the service for next year at least.
Why will that be difficult, Sir? I must say, for the record (Eliza?)
That I find your approach
Obstructive..
You’ve released all the reindeer?
And you’ve sent all the elves back to their families?

This really is very grave. I can’t confirm that there won’t be
Consequences.
I must enquire about your short-term plans, in case we need to
Call you to appear again?
More fishing. I see.
No, I still don’t think you can catch a whale with a rod.
And then? Antarctica.
The one place you’ve never seen.