Prompt Images

“Oh, dear,” said Santa, staring down at the double line on his rapid test. “It’s positive.”

Mrs. Claus tapped him twice on the shoulder and said, “That’s wonderful news, Nicholas!”

“No! No! No!” Santa replied, using the same rhythm he reserved for his trademarked shout-laugh. But that wasn’t the only thing confusing on that Christmas Eve-Eve.

“Positive is negative, dear. It means I have COVID.”

“On Christmas Eve-Eve?” Mrs. Claus gasped, finally understanding the gravity of the situation. “Why that’s terrible news, Nicholas!”

“I know, Martha.” Santa didn’t actually know what his wife’s name was but took a guess. Despite his many nicknames, he’d only ever heard her referred to as Mrs. Claus, which felt pretty patriarchal and dismissive of her as an equally magical being. I mean, what was her story? Why don’t we know anything about this mysterious woman?

Anyway, she looked like a Martha, so he gave it a shot. If he was wrong, he could just blame it on COVID fog.

“You know, Nick, I told you to go get your booster in November, but nooooo! You had too much to do, didn’t you? You couldn’t find a single spare moment to get over to the CVS. They’re FREE, Nicholas. I mean, really, how hard is it to get over to a CVS?”

“I work hard, Martha,” Santa said firmly. “I’m commercialism’s most charming icon! I can’t help it! It’s who I am, dammit. The global economy is counting on me.”

“Well, a lot of good that will do you now,” said Martha Claus, putting her hands on her hips, which is a very Martha thing to do. She put on her N-95 mask and turned on the ceiling fan they had installed after the heat wave of June 2020 for better air circulation.

“I don’t need this right now,” said Santa, standing up and walking out of the room, muttering under his breath.


Another breakthrough COVID case.

Luckily, considering his age, weight, and co-morbidities, Saint Nick had been double vaccinated and felt confident that he wouldn’t have to be hospitalized. But that relief couldn’t possibly solve all his problems. And while Santa didn’t have any discernible symptoms, that didn’t matter. He was still a MESS.

How did this happen?

The workshop had a vaccine mandate and very clear indoor mask policy, but the elves had been throwing a few wild holiday parties where Santa was sure they’d been more relaxed. Work hard play hard was definitely the company culture. How else was he supposed to retain top talent during a labor shortage? Better wages and benefits? For seasonal employees? What is this? SWEDEN?

Santa wished he could put all the party elves on the naughty list. And himself, to be honest. Why didn’t he just get that booster like Martha told him? Maybe women aren’t nags! Maybe they’re just tired of no one listening to them or bothering to know their names after age 50!

But who has time for being politically correct when there’s an even bigger crisis on our hands? What’s going to happen to Christmas this year?!

First, Santa would have to notify all his close contacts.

Thousands of elves would have to test and quarantine for 10 days. Plus, he’ll have to notify Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, and Rudolph. Can reindeer get COVID? Well, their white-tailed cousins are getting and spreading it like Christmas cheer, so we’ll have to assume so. This is a nightmare.

He better get the crisis communications team fired up. They’ll have to get the word out now and control the message.

Don’t panic. Stay calm. Everything is under control. Safety is the priority. Stay at home, stop the spread.

But this will be the biggest story of the year!

Fox News has already convinced people there’s a War on Christmas, and that was just because Walmart greeters said “Happy Holidays” to customers! We can’t let them control the narrative or Sean Hannity will be out there calling Santa a hoax! The legend of Santa has survived doubters for hundreds of years, but in this political climate? Nuh-uh. Not taking any chances.

You just know they’ll say that is just more liberal fear-mongering. You just know they’ll say that Christmas is the newest victim of cancel culture. But Christmas isn’t cancelled, is it?


Over an intense Zoom call, the crisis comms elves came up with a messaging strategy that wasn’t perfect but felt like it would at least do the trick.

It was honest:

  • On December 23rd, Santa tested positive for COVID.
  • While the workshop has strict guidelines around vaccines, masking, and social distancing, he believes he was exposed to the illness while at work.
  • He is providing tests and paid leave to all elves who must quarantine.

It was a helpful warning:

  • He was NOT YET BOOSTED, which he regrets.
  • He encourages all who are eligible and with access to get fully vaccinated!

It was proactive:

  • Christmas is NOT CANCELLED. Just TEMPORARILY POSTPONED to January 8th.
  • This is the right thing to do to ensure the health and safety of the community.

And there was a charitable component, making it a CSR win (nice!):

  • In addition to delivering toys around the world, Santa will also deliver doses of the vaccine and rapid tests to remote communities. BECAUSE IT’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO.

Given the circumstances and timeline, the elves thought the campaign was pretty darn good.

Unfortunately, as magical beings, they could not violate their oath of secrecy by doing any appearances on news channels to share the message themselves. Public appearances anywhere outside shopping malls were against the code and would eliminate their magical powers instantly.

So, Santa laid his finger aside of his nose—giving his sign of approval—and the elves emailed their media kits and phoned all the news producers in the world. They’d have to rely on the Christmas spirit and goodwill of humankind.

“I can’t believe this happened,” said the crisis comms elves, as they monitored Twitter and cable news for the tone and tenor of the coverage.

“Well that’s the problem,” said Martha Claus. “People don’t believe in much anymore.”

Kelaine Conochan

The editor-in-chief of this magazine, who should, in all honesty, be a gym teacher. Don’t sleep on your plucky kid sister.

learn more
Share this story
About The Prompt
A sweet, sweet collective of writers, artists, podcasters, and other creatives. Sound like fun?
Learn more