Right after their return from the rescue, on his desk back at the precinct, Lenny found a box delivered from the North Pole. It was a beautifully woven Whip from Mz Clawz. His name was burned into the handle. He took it out and let it fly and cracked off an awful fake fish in a frame above the door, *whhiip-CRACK* as if he had been doing it all his life.
Christmas went well and no one much minded the extra money they spent on presents. In fact some did the math and realized if they bought their own presents every year it would be cheaper than having to pay the Fairytale Gift Tax. The waivers poured in around late January. The head administrative dwarf got busy and started to cross off names. The cities the furthest away from where the rescue had occurred were the first to eventually be completely deleted from Santa's lists.
Then as the year went on the rest of the world's people who subscribed began to send in waivers. By late summer it was becoming clear that there was something serious happening. A family sending in a waiver didn't think that their neighbors were doing the same but that’s what happened. They learned how to do Christmas on their own. They also tried this on other holidays like Easter and found they could do that too and get away with it, and it was much cheaper. Elegant handcrafted things could be replaced by colorful plastic things just fine in their kid's eyes.
You can see where this is leading. When the town of the rescue heard what was happening, they were the last to be crossed off the list right around Thanksgiving. With the rest of the world opting out they didn't feel so guilty. The other holidays were easy but that final step to sign off on Santa wasn’t easy.
The Mayor promised Santa in a memo it would only be that year and he'd talk to the President about it, so as a "further reward"- Santa should take the holiday off.. again. The Presidential talk never happened. It just ended like that. A tearful phone call from the Mayor the next spring and all the funds from the Fairytale Gift Tax stopped forever.
Not everyone realized it at first that Santa would never fly for them again. People dressed up like Santa that first year to fool their kids but eventually people began to see what had happened. It was over. Instead of having their children send letters that could possibly be returned, they set up fake Santas to listen to children's requests so their parents could eavesdrop and know what to buy. Alternate addresses were set up for children who still wanted to write so that parents could read their gift lists.
Fathers were risking their lives trying to squeeze down chimneys in tacky red outfits and fake beards. Toy companies went into overdrive to make toys for the holidays- and even though the workloads increased people actually were saving money and many were making money… there was no way Santa himself was ever going to be asked to come back.
Was Santa mad at them? Several of the families who had their children rescued by Santa made the trip on the Northern Cargo Train to see him. They arrived and thought he'd be sad or mad or who knows, but they found he and Mz Clawz in relatively good spirits.
They were expecting their first child! Santa had never done Christmas for the money. He had a talent and made it into something that made children happy rather than let the governments of the world use it for war (like they had tried way back when). Sure he made money but he also saved and invested it. Santa and family were fine. He was thoughtful though, that it happened the very first year after he had saved the children and stopped the villains. He knew it might eventually happen but not right after. Mz Clawz was not as polite on the subject.
She was shouting in another room and throwing things, house mice ducking for cover, but when she came out to greet the families the children's faces made her smile and she rubbed her own big belly.
When the families apologized for the waiver situation she said- "He still would have gone, even if Santa knew this would happen afterward, so really, there is nothing to apologize for. You can't say you are sorry for asking for your children back."
The families left and waved goodbye as the Northern Cargo Train pulled out.
Mz Clawz eventually had a baby boy who grew to be a fabulous Sumo wrestler. He is probably still somewhere living happily ever after. He was never much of a media darling.
The end was complete. The Easter Bunny was no longer needed, neither was the Tooth Fairy or any other fairytale service. Parents dressed up in silly outfits and pretended to be these things themselves. Most of the magical folk turned out okay, well almost. The Easter Bunny disappeared one year and was never seen again. Some think he may have gone north to live with family and some said he went south and was finally caught by the goblin hillfolk who had wanted to make him into stew for years. No one ever knew what happened. The Golden Goose blended in with the other geese of the countryside and is probably living quietly in a farmyard. The shoe making Pixies, as it turned out, never cashed their checks from the FGT- they were fairy tale workers from so far back they never understood the concept of the zoning and funding. They eventually did cash their collected checks and used the money to buy a cookie and cracker company where they hired a clan of tiny elves to work in bakeries. They only did shoes for charity now... or fun.
The Sandman became a world reknown anesthesiologist. His wife The Tooth Fairy donated all the collected teeth to a pediatric tooth study foundation. They were thrilled. The teeth represented all different forms of perfection and decay in so many stages- it was the biggest collection in the world and dental scholars traveled from all over the world to view it. For awhile she also raised funds for them and chaired committees. Eventually they both retired to a remote area where towns still drowsed in a sleepy limbo and the resident’s teeth didn't bore the Tooth Fairy to tears.
The Fairy Godmother still sews and Jack Frost still paints windows with frost and makes lovely snowy landscapes. Someone thought they saw Lavender Mary at a bonfire dance, so maybe she has come back. Lenny stayed a detective until he retired and then he began to go to a lot of dances to meet new friends and maybe maybe... see Lavender Mary again.
Santa still watches us. He may still take the reindeer out for a fly on Christmas Eve- he did it a lot when his boy was small. If you think you saw Santa once it might have been him. He likes that no one forgot him and hates the tacky costumes but thinks the sentiment is nice. The Northern Cargo Train has been snowed over so deep it will never be dug out again. The factory and estate at the North Pole has also been buried forever, and only the dwarves and Santa’s family knows the subterranean entrance. They don't use it much anymore opting for warmer places after so many years of howling icy winds.
Once some of the dwarves appeared in a big movie- you know the one. Most of the dwarves though, retreated back into the mountains and let the snow cover them. Down under the earth, under even the seas near the earth's core, are other lakes and oceans and islands and land masses and cathedrals of rock forests and mountains where the dwarves live and tend to the earth’s internal landscapes. There they still create wondrous things for themselves and other dwarves.
The world is, as you know, do it yourself on the holidays with lots of fancy tales woven in that were once, maybe, partly true. It's not your fault people have to spend all the money and dress up in costumes if they have kids, but that’s what it is now and you can't change it back. Santa saved the children and lost his place in the Holiday world. Confused? Not really? How often have you done something good and your reward was ingratitude or nothing at all? It's life, it’s the way it is. You learn from it and move along. Mainly you don’t do good things to be rewarded. You do them because you are good.
Don't be mad at your parents, this happened long ago. In fact it was probably your grandparent's or great grandparents that signed the waivers- you might have done the same thing in their place so try to understand okay? Oh and.. Happy Holidays!