MADISON, Wis. – Christmas icon Nicholas “Santa” Claus was pronounced dead at 4:36 this morning when a heat shield on his sleigh failed, causing it to burst into flames. He was 52 years old.

“Santa died doing what he loved: being dangerously near fire while trespassing at a stranger’s house,” a representative said in a press release. “He dedicated 30 years of his life delivering toys, having taken over his father’s business after graduating from the Wharton School of Business. Santa delivered extravagant gifts to all boys and girls, from the richest of the rich to the richest of the upper-middle class. He will be missed.”

Santa is survived by a loving widow, Britney, and ex-wife, Barbara. 

“I can’t believe he’s gone,” mourned his 26-year-old widow, who was vigorously sucking on a candy cane in their North Pole estate. “I remember when I first met my Nicky. That very night he opened me up like a sick kid’s Christmas letter, and hurried right down my chimney into my fireplace. He was always filthy after he did it, but that’s what he gets for going straight for the ash hole!” Mrs. Claus sighed. “I’m going to miss him. He just wanted to give out special toys and punish all the naughty, naughty people out there. In my heart, I think I’ll always be his ho-ho-ho. Christmas just won’t be the same without him stuffing my stocking.”

Santa’s former employees, however, saw this as an opportunity to reveal the grim realities of the North Pole. 

“Sure, everyone knows him for bein’ Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick or some elfcrap but nobody saw the monster behind the scenes,” reported Rudolph Sanz, a reindeer who worked for Santa. “That bastard squeezed every last drop of joy out of his employees. He refused my worker’s comp claims for my red nose, then tokenized me at the front of his sleigh. And the toymakers? Elf wages have been stagnant since the 80s. They have to build their houses out of goddamn candy because they can’t afford any sturdier materials. It seems all delightful or whatever but lemme tell ya, when a polar bear wanders through your village, he’s either eating your house or eating you.” 

At press time, the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy were negotiating a heated legal battle over Santa’s inheritance.

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