Hello. This is Santa Claus speaking. Ho, ho, ho!

Santa’s got something really bad to tell you. I would’ve told you a long time ago, but I was worried people would get mad. A lot of years have passed, though, and I feel like now it’s finally safe for me to get this off my chest. Before I say anything, just remember that Christmas is a time for forgiveness, and Santa is very sorry for what he did. Okay? Okay. Here goes nothing. I’m terribly ashamed to inform you that I, Santa Claus, was patient zero for swine flu. Santa got the whole world sick.

You see, I’ve got lots of animals up at the North Pole, and I’ve got so many of them packed into the barn that it’s hard to keep things sanitary. Long story short, eight years ago, on Christmas Eve, I drank a cup of reindeer milk that a hog had sneezed in. Pretty soon after, I started feeling kind of lousy and clammy, and I threw up all over Mrs. Claus’ nice apron. But I couldn’t take any time to rest, because it was Christmas Eve, and I had to deliver presents to all the world’s children. So I got onto my sled, flew to every house on the planet within 12 hours, and spread my hog germs all over the place. Over the course of the next year, hundreds of thousands of folks got sick from the hog germs, and a lot of them died.

Ho, ho, ho!

Now, don’t rush to judgment. Put your pitchforks away. Yes, Santa caused a global pandemic of massive proportions, but you can’t really hold it against me. If you think about it, there’s probably no one in history more predisposed to breeding a deadly worldwide virus outbreak than yours truly. I can’t help it.

So there you have it. That’s my shameful secret.

For one, it’s incredibly easy for me to get sick. Living hundreds of miles from human civilization, I don’t have certain immunities that most people get from being constantly exposed to the various bacteria of their fellow man. I’m not very hardy. And as a large individual who perspires generously, my body produces a particular humidity that encourages the fertile growth of pathogens, including pesky ones like H1N1. Also, when I do get sick, there’s nothing I can do about it, because there’s no health care or medicine at the North Pole. Reindeer milk used to be my cure-all, but now even that seems questionable in light of the hog snot incident.

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For two, I’m probably the only person in any given year who visits every single house in the world. No one else leaves as extensive of a germ footprint than ol’ St. Nick. If, on December 24th, I happen to be contaminated with some kind of bug, the reality is that a whole lot of other people are gonna get contaminated with the same bug. That’s just science. Would you rather I just stay home and don’t deliver presents? Good luck explaining that one to your kids.

Also, don’t forget that I am magical. You gotta figure magic germs are way more potent than normal-people ones.

So there you have it. That’s my shameful secret. Swine flu is over now, and I have learned from my mistake, so hopefully we can move past this. But even though swine flu is a thing of the past, please be aware that I now have ticks. Mrs. Claus found some on my thigh during my sponge bath. There are shit-tons of them, and on Christmas Eve, I am going to bring them into your house. There’s nothing we can do about this. Just spray some Lysol around your Christmas tree, and your kids should be fine.

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Also, my ears have been ringing for a couple years now. Maybe that’s a disease, too.

Okay, time for me to get back to my workshop. There are still lots of presents I need to make in time for Christmas. I will wear a hairnet so I don’t get any ticks on them. See you all soon! Ho, ho, ho!