Winston, the brainiest elf in the North Pole, put down the political science book he was reading and watched with concern as Santa paced nervously across the North Pole Library. His beloved boss was always anxious in the days before Christmas, but this year was different.

Just hours before, Santa had stood before an exhausted Elf Council and dropped his head in defeat.

“I guess that’s it then,” he said forlornly. “There’s no other choice. Christmas is cancelled.”

Winston recalled this was not the first year Santa had cancelled the big day, in fact, there had been countless close calls throughout the centuries. In 2010 the holiday was nearly ruined when Santa refused to endure a humiliating TSA pat-down before flying over American airspace.

As recently as 2012, Christmas was briefly cancelled when Santa became obsessed with predictions of an impending doomsday coinciding with the ancient Mayan calendar, which allegedly ended Dec. 21, 2012.

Santa had been so frightened by the all the hysteria he encountered on the Internet he became an overnight “prepper,” abruptly shutting down toy production and directing the elves to build a bunker and stockpile the essential sweet treats. Fortunately Winston had been able to reason with Santa enough to convince him to resume his normal holiday rituals, just in time to save Christmas.

This year, however, the situation seemed truly hopeless. It all began last week when Santa gathered the Elf Council before him in the Snoval Office, where he delivered the shocking news that the North Pole had been the victim of a vicious cyber attack. A team of highly organized hackers had infiltrated the North Pole database and stolen a large amount of data, some of which had already been released to the rabidly awaiting Internet.

Thus far, the international media had already been having field day with North Pole personnel records, several sets of dollhouse blueprints, some embarrassing elf emails, and the full text of the Naughty and Nice List from 1987. However, the limited data release was followed by a frightening message in which the hackers promised far more damaging information would be released and elves would be harmed unless Santa agreed to cancel his 2014 Christmas delivery.

Do you want to build a snowman?

Do you want to build a snowman?

According to the most recent North Pole intelligence, the attack was prompted by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s recent discovery that once again, he was on Santa’s naughty list. Although this was his 32nd consecutive appearance on the list, he was especially disappointed this year as he was holding out hope for a Frozen Snow Glow Elsa doll.

The Elf Council convened for hours each day, discussing the various implications of giving into the foreign leader’s demands, but by North Pole law, in the end it would be Santa’s call. After careful consultation with his American attorney, Ed Knogg, Santa called a final meeting of the Elf Council and sadly announced his decision to cancel Christmas 2014.

Winston was heartbroken as he watched a defeated Santa turn and leave the room, retreating to his private office after mumbling a request to be left alone. Later that afternoon in the library, Winston was pleased to see Santa out and about, and he wondered if it was too late to change his mind.

“Santa, I still want to go through with Christmas,” Winston said. “I think it’s the right thing to do. So what if they release our data? Could it possibly be any worse than all those ridiculous, narcissistic “elfies” my colleagues are always posting on Facebook?”

“Oh, there’s plenty more damage they can do,” Santa said. “And I’m responsible for making sure nobody gets hurt. They threatened our lives!”

“Oh, come on,” Winston replied. “Those guys threaten to kill everyone. That’s what bullies do. And we don’t give in to bullies, especially when they’re on the naughty list. If you’re going to let some brutal dictator from across the world run the North Pole, you may as well wrap up that Snow Glow Elsa he’s been wanting with a big red bow and send it on over. In fact, just go ahead and hand over the reins to your sleigh because he’s never going to stop pushing you around.”

Santa was quiet for a long while, and he finally sighed and looked at Winston. “Well, what do all the other elves think? Do they feel the same?”

“Just look behind you Santa,” Winston said.

Santa turned to see his elves begin to flood the halls with hopeful, smiling faces.

“Santa,” they called. “Just give us the word. The reindeer are ready and the gifts are wrapped. We can get that sleigh loaded and off the ground in an hour.”

Santa gazed at the brave little creatures all around him and grinned. “Let’s do it,” he said. “Ho Ho Ho! Merry Christmas and Happy Freedom to all, and a HAPPY NEW YEAR!”