From yesterday’s NYTimes; Teddy Wayne’s great piece on SantaCare:
By TEDDY WAYNE
To my American constituents, of both the naughty and nice parties, I’m pleased to announce the rollout of the Affordable Gift Act, referred to by the name of its sponsor — yours truly — as Santacare.
While Santacare is not a single-giver system, as with sleigh insurance, you must sign up for it, or else incur a penalty of talking on the phone with Uncle Harold in Cleveland about his sleep apnea.
We’ve nutcracked the numbers and determined that the program will lower costs, across the tree, on gift-certificate deductibles for siblings, muted-tie premiums for dads and, for moms, copays on historical novels set in wartime Europe.
In an important advance, recipients can no longer deny gifts based on familial history, such as that time you forgot to pick up Bobby at the airport and he waited there for two freakin’ hours, or how your father passive-aggressively disparaged your postgraduate dreams of joining an improv-comedy troupe.
You may sign up for one of four levels of Santacare, from top-tier Platinum Star — which allows access to the largest number of luxury-goods providers, comes with a matching cashmere-scarf-and-gloves set, and permits regifting — down to Stocking Stuffer, coverage that offers protection only from catastrophic sweaters. We will subsidize the cost of left-out-overnight milk and cookies.
Look, I know a lot of folks have been critical of Santacare and that my poll numbers are heading south. I’ve been called a “red-suited menace” by Newt Gingrinch. There have been personal attacks about my weight, my supposedly out-of-touch, “jolly” demeanor and — the lowest of blows — my secretary of transportation’s congenital disorder of phosphorescent proboscitis. My detractors would have you believe that this is all some “secret” Santa conspiracy in which we’ll soon institute so-called “gift panels” to adjudicate whether presents for half-awake grandparents are worth the wrapping paper. Some fruitcakes even claim I wasn’t born in the Arctic but, rather, in Hawaii.
And, yes, our gift-exchange website hasn’t been fully operational, but rest assured that my best Igloo Tinker elves are making a list of all its problems, and I’m personally double-checking it.
Santacare is long overdue for this country, where a select few dine on juicy ham while the rest wait in line for chipped candy canes; where some decorate hallways with holly boughs as others make do with dime-store tinsel; where the wealthiest one percent roast chestnuts over an open fire yet the majority can only hope to watch a Yule log burning on TV followed by — and this is heartbreaking — “Two and a Half Men.”
The way gifts are given in the United States is an embarrassment. We must all collectively buy into this system or it will fail, much as a string of red and green lights will go out if just one is broken.
Please note: While we have tried to make Santacare available to all taxpayers, we are currently unable to offer it to Jewish citizens. In compensation, we are happy to provide them with vouchers for a free, albeit somewhat depressing, buffet dinner on Dec. 25 at a Chinese restaurant (in-network only).
Teddy Wayne is the author of the novels “The Love Song of Jonny Valentine” and “Kapitoil.”