Monday, July 26, 2010


’Twas six months after Christmas,
And all ’round the pole,
Not an elf was still working—
Not one tiny soul!

The spring had passed by
And the summer was here,
The laziest time in
The whole Christmas year!

There were elves still in bed
At a quarter to one,
Even though next year’s presents
Were barely begun.

And where was dear Santa?
Why, far from his station!
Away with his wife
For their yearly vacation.

They spent all last June
In the rich Scottish highland.
This year it’s Jamaica
And then Easter Island.

But just to make sure
That some work still got done,
Santa sent a replacement
To watch everyone.

To achieve next year’s deadline,
The work could not pause,
So he called upon Stanley—
The Substitute Claus!

Stanley Sherman woke up
When his phone rang at four.
He took down the address
And he shot out the door.

Barely time to get clothing on!
No time for showers!
The trip up to Santa’s
Was over ten hours!

At last he arrived,
Wiped his feet on the mat,
Then he saw the two doors
Labeled “This Way” and “That.”

He thought for a moment,
Then opened “This Way.”
He walked in on a workshop
In pure disarray!

There were bears half unstuffed,
Broken trains on the floor,
Baby dolls that say “Moo!”
Rubber duckies that roar!

There were donuts and nachos
That flew through the air,
And the sounds of elf-mischief
From every-which-where!

Stanley took a long look
At the chaos around,
Then he lifted his jaw
Back up off of the ground.

He walked into the workshop,
More noisy than ever,
And placed his left hand
On the Main Power Lever.

A tug on the switch
And the workshop shut down,
And then all became quiet
In toy-making town.

And the elves all came out
To see what was the matter.
They gathered ’round Stanley
And stopped all their chatter.

“Good morning,” said Stan
In his best “Santa” way.
“My name’s Mister Sherman—
I’m Santa today.”

Well the elves remained silent
For one moment after,
Then doubled right over
In elf-quaking laughter!

“You’re Santa?!” they called,
“That’s a good one there, bub!
Why you’re even more scrawny
Than last summer’s sub!”

“And what kind of Claus
Wears a pressed shirt and tie?
Santa’s workshop’s no place
For a nine-to-five guy!”

And with that, all the elves
Began running away,
Off to wrestle and food-fight
And tumble and play.

“Now hold on!” called Stan Sherman
To get their attention.
“There’s one little thing
I neglected to mention!”

“I may not be jolly,
I may not be fat.
I may not be Santa,
But I’ve got his hat!”

And with that, Stanley Sherman
Produced from his case
A red velvety hat
That fell low on his face.

And although he looked dumber
Than he had expected,
The hat was one thing
That the elves all respected.

They snapped to attention,
Stood straight as the Pole,
And they gave the right names
When Stan called the elf-roll.

Then they got to their stations
And started their work,
And not one made Stan Sherman
Turn into a jerk!

They made trains, they made games,
They made dragons and dollies,
Key-lime candy canes,
Even pancake-sized lollies!

No time did they waste!
Not a detail they missed!
And not one elf was put
On the sub’s “Naughty List.”

And by late afternoon,
Things were going so well
That Stan Sherman sent Santa
A text from his cell.

“Mr. Claus,” Stanley texted,
“How is Easter I.?”
“O, it’s gr8, LOL,”
Came dear Santa’s reply.

Then the next one from Santa
Sent shivers through Stan:
“Did U have any probs
With the day’s lesson plan?”

Stanley froze, and his color
Drained out with his hope.
And he texted a
Half-true, one-word answer: “Nope!”

“O, that’s good,” Santa wrote,
“Just some work 4 the elves
To make sure they’re on-track
And behaving themselves!”

And with that, Santa signed off—
A quick “CU L8R”—
And Stan began panicking
Greater and greater!

How was he to know
That the boss left a lesson?
He’d set the elves working
By hopin’ and guessin’!

But now, it appeared
That a mystery plan
Had been hidden somewhere
By the jolly fat man.

And if Stan could not find it,
His plans would be foiled!
Oh, he had to look fast
Before Christmas was spoiled!

So he left all the elves
Working diligently
While he ransacked the workshop
As quick as could be.

He found books, he found toys,
He found mountains of sweets,
He found teddy bear blankets
And cute bunny sheets.

He found note cards and markers,
A grocery list,
But not one single sign
Of the plans he had missed.

Then he had an odd thought
And adjusted his hat,
And went back to the front
To the door labeled “That.”

And he peered through the glass
In the frost-biting air
’Til his eyes could make out
A small desk with a chair.

And he saw, on this desk,
As the wind whipped him colder,
A small set of keys
And a candy-striped folder.

“Of course! Santa’s office!”
Thought Stan in his glee!
“And those must be the plans
Santa mentioned to me!”

So he rolled up his sleeve,
And he flexed out his wrist,
And he reached for the knob,
And he gave it a twist.

But the door would not budge,
Despite all of his might.
And the keys were inside—
It was locked good and tight!

And so Stanley returned
To the workshop once more,
And he walked to the corner
And slumped to the floor.

“Mr. Sherman, what’s wrong?”
Asked the chief little elf.
And he had to be honest,
In spite of himself.

So he told them the tale
Of the folder and keys,
And they laughed, doubled-over
And clutching their knees.

“Man oh man,” they guffawed,
“Oh, you’re in for it now!
When old Santa comes back,
You’ll be fired! And how!”

Now this wasn’t Stan’s fault,
As I’m sure you’re aware,
But when bosses get angry,
Life’s not always fair.

So Stan thought and he thought
As he bubbled inside.
Oh there must be an answer!
He must save his hide!

Yes he thought and he thought
’Til his thinker was bent.
Then his eyes fell upon it—
A small dusty vent!

Then he looked at the elves,
And they shouted, “No Way!”
But Stan straightened his hat—
HE was Santa today!

Then the elves rolled their eyes,
And a few of them sighed.
But the hat was in charge,
And it can’t be defied!

So at last they stacked up,
Over twenty elves tall,
And they opened the vent
On the far workshop wall.

Then the littlest elf
Climbed up over the gang,
And away through the duct work
He crawled with a clang.

Oh he thudded and crashed
As he crawled through the walls.
Yes he jingled the bells,
And he decked all the halls!

But at last he returned
From the office as planned,
And he held out a folder
In each tiny hand.

Stanley stared at the folders
In anticipation,
Then chose “Lesson Plans”
Over “World Domination.”

He sighed with relief
As he read through the file.
There were plans and instructions
For quite a long while!

He’d been on the right track—
They should keep making toys.
Then go over the list
Of the good girls and boys.

They should also, Stan noticed,
Plan orientation
For all the mall Santas
Throughout every nation.

To top it all off,
They should build a huge bear
With a laser-beam hat
And with cheese puffs for hair.

(“Yes, it’s weird,” Santa wrote,
“But Lucille made it clear—
It’s the one thing she wants,
And she’s been good all year!)

Stanley made some quick notes,
Then turned back to the crew,
And assigned the right projects
For each elf to do.

Then he thanked all the elves
For their true dedication.
They’d salvaged his job
And old Santa’s vacation!

And so Stanley Sherman
Kept Christmas on-track,
And they all kept on working
’Til Santa came back.

So if you have a choice
Between “This Way” and “That,”
Just be sure of yourself,
And hold on to your hat!

1 comment:

  1. Good words of advice for ALL of us "Substitute Santas"!(-;

    (I love this Epic Poem!)