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Smith: Santa must run the North Pole much like a business
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The Christmas season can stress out all of us, even Santa Claus. At the North Pole, Santa Claus was recently paraphrasing the famous line from the movie "Apollo 13." "Mrs. Claus, we have a problem."

Mrs. Claus was heard to say, "Santa, failure is not an option." She went on to ask Santa, "What problem could be so bad that it has turned your hair from white to gray?"

Standing under the mistletoe hoping for his luck to change, the not so jolly St. Nick responded, "What hasn't gone wrong? First of all, managing North Pole LLC is not as easy as it was 25 years ago when Ronald Reagan was running the country."

Laughing, Mrs. Claus responded, "Now Santa, you read Megatrends back in 1982 and John Naisbitt forewarned us about all of the impending changes that would take place."

Santa went on to explain, "Yes, yes I can except change. I have survived security systems with motion sensors, smog, 2 percent milk and non-fat cookies by the hearth as well as the democrats and republicans. What has happened this year is almost too much for me to deal with at my age. May I share some of my issues with you dear?

"Remember the stealth sleigh that I bought last year? The FAA is now telling me that it is a security risk and has been grounded. Somehow United Airlines thinks that I am aligned with Delta and is threatening me with a hostile takeover.

"And there are the reindeer. Rudolph is not happy with just a red nose anymore. He wants a newer and larger nose so that he can sublet out advertising space. In addition, all of the other reindeer have to go through metal detectors now prior to any flights. Let me tell you, Donner and Blitzen are not pleased with that bit of news.

"One of the elves almost drowned in research and development when Baby Wettums sprang a leak. A supervisor felt obligated to call OSHA and production is at a standstill. And get this, for years I have been calling the elves my little helpers. Now they are telling me that I need to be politically correct and call them my diminutive assistants. Katie Couric and ‘60 Minutes' heard about the flood as well as the complaints and is paying us a visit next week.

"I have treated those elves like children and all I get is heartbreak. There is talk about the elves organizing and starting a union. The next thing you know they will all want cell phones, iPods and use of our condominium in St. Simons.

"Worker's compensation premiums keep going up. I am thinking about having to hire a public relations firm for crisis management. My arthritis is acting up and the doctor keeps telling me to lose weight. What am I to do?

Smiling, Mrs. Claus stroked Santa's troubled brow and said, "Sweetheart, remember the true reason for Christmas. And think about how fortunate we truly are today."

Merry Christmas to you all!

J.C. Smith is a consultant for the Gainesville district office of the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center, 770-531-5681. His column appears Tuesdays and at Originally published Dec. 25, 2007.