A long long time ago in the far north forests there lived a community of elves who helped the people of the north woods celebrate the winter solstice. They danced around the winter bonfires, sprinkled elf dust on the solstice cakes to make them even sweeter, brought the children dreams of summer when the sun was warm and the days long. They hugged and kissed each other, ate and slept and played all day and as much of the night as they wanted.
And so it was every winter for so many years that it seemed like forever.
But then one day a terrible thing happened. An elf they’d never seen before, an elf with a sly and slithery smile, told them about a jolly old man even farther north who was making presents for children and looking for a little help.
“Why not?” said the elves. “We love to help.” And they flew off to the far far north, all the way to the North Pole. “We’re here to help,” they said.
“Excellent,” said the elf with the sly and slithery smile. And – boom – he pushed all the elves into a dark building full of machines that were going clank and clatter.
And so the solstice elves became slaves in Santa’s sweatshop. The elf with the sly and slithery smile divided them into girl elves and boy elves, which had never been done before. He made the boy elves work on the toy-making machines, making plastic toys whose fumes made their heads hurt. The girl elves had to work in the wrapping department, wrapping all the plastic gifts in even more plastic. And the darker elves spent all day shoveling reindeer poop, petting the reindeer when no one was looking.
And so it was for years and years, so many years that it seemed like forever. The elves were sad, so sad. But the very oldest elves remembered what it was like when they were free elves in the far north forests. At night when the elf with the sly and slithery smile was asleep they would tell stories to the younger elves of how it was when they were free and everyone hugged and kissed and never cared who was boy elves or girl elves or light elves or dark elves. The younger elves learned how elves used to eat and sleep and play, and how they celebrated the winter solstice.
Finally some of the elves decided that they’d had enough. They were done working in the sweatshop making ugly toys and wrapping them in plastic. They were done shoveling reindeer poop. One night when the elf with the sly and slithery smile was asleep they slipped out of their beds and sneaked out to the stables, the dark elves in the lead. The reindeer recognized the elves that petted them and let them harness up the sleigh. The elves piled in and, just like that, they flew away. They could hear the elf with the sly and slithery smile yelling at them to come back; they laughed and hugged each other.
They flew and they flew for miles and miles and miles. Below them they saw the lights of cities, lots of cities. They flew lower. There were people in tents in the middle of the cities, and they were singing and dancing, and they had signs that said Tax the Rich and We are the 99% and No More Sweatshops. They flew over a place called Oakland where lots of people were sitting together taking turns talking and raising their hands and wiggling them in the air. Words like “liberate” and “decolonize” floated up to their ears.
The elves had found a wonderful new place to live, and they moved into a collective house in the Fruitvale District. But they realized that while they were free, other elves were still enslaved. So they gathered up their friends from Decolonize Oakland, and Unsettle Portland, and Unoccupy Albuquerque, and flew back to the North Pole to decolonize Santa’s workshop and demand full personhood for elves.
Realizing that he was outnumbered, and wanting to keep his job, Santa agreed to allow all elves to work at whatever job they wanted to, whether they were girl elves or boy elves, or dark elves or light elves. He agreed to a 35 hour week for every elf, to make all the toys out of natural materials, and to allow the elves to visit Oakland whenever they wanted to.
You can visit the elves in Oakland today where they live happily as the Near East Free Elf Collective, growing chard for Phat Beets Produce Collective and making elf dust to sprinkle on the solstice cakes of children all over the world.