By Paul-Gabriel Wiener <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: January 2002
Summary: A "Jewish nerd's" attempt at a Christmas story. Hey, if you can't get away from it, you might as well join in…
Author's note: This one was sort of slapped together. It started when my dad mentioned a rather cool program his office participates in, run by the local paper. I put it together with an odd email I'd gotten a few years back, added in a random image that popped into my head, tossed in something I'd seen on Ripley's, and ended up with this. It's not my best story, but it's far from my worst. :) Read it on its own terms and, hopefully, enjoy!
"Hi, Jimmy. What are you laughing about?"
"What? Oh, hey, CK. It's an email a friend sent me. Someone calculated that the reindeer would have to pull his sleigh at mach 4 to allow Santa to make all his deliveries on time."
"Mach 4? Really? That's all?"
"CK, are you kidding? Most MISSILES only do mach 3."
"Well, sure, but Superman could hit mach 7, easy. Though I suppose air friction would burn up the bag of toys."
"Actually, STAR labs just developed a new polymer. It's strong, flexible, heat-resistant, and nearly frictionless."
"What did they make it for? Some new NASA project or something?"
"Actually, it's for their rocket luge team."
"It's a new sport. Basically, it's just like regular luge, but they use small rocket engines so they can go faster."
Clark hastily shook off the thought of Dr. Klein zooming down a bobsled track in a rocket-propelled sled. "So they developed an entirely new polymer…"
"To make luge suits."
"Of course. And it can stand up to air friction at mach 4?"
"STAR labs has a tendency to overdo things when they're designing something new."
Clark chuckled. "True. Oh, looks like the morning staff meeting is getting started. See you later, Jimmy."
The staff meeting was moving slowly, as usual. Perry tried to keep things going briskly, but he also had to hear from everyone. To Perry, even the smallest department was a crucial part of the paper.
The meeting was winding down when someone from classifieds mentioned something that caught Clark's attention. "Our 'Adopt a Family for Christmas' program needs more publicity," he said.
"'Adopt a Family?'" Clark asked, confused.
"See?" the staffer exclaimed. "Even our own people don't know about it!"
"So why don't you explain it?"
"Well, it's simple. Families in need send us a 'wish list.' Then, people contact us, and we give them a copy of one family's list. The donors buy whatever is on the list, and send them to us. We deliver the gifts to the needy families. It's all done anonymously, of course."
"People can afford to buy things for a whole family?"
"Well, usually, it's corporations. We also get groups of people who chip in together."
"I've never heard of the program before. He's right, Perry. We need to get this more publicity."
"I'd love to, Clark, but it's expensive enough just running the program. We put notices in the paper, but we don't have the budget to advertize it any better."
"What if we do a story on it?"
"A story about our own paper? I don't think that would look very good, Clark."
"What if I could get a celebrity to back it?"
"Like who, Clark?"
"What about Superman?"
"Anything Superman does is news. If you can get him to do it, Clark, I'll run the story."
Clark smiled. "I think I can arrange that, Chief."
The meeting ended soon after that. He rushed through his morning work as quickly as he could, then left the building on his lunch break. As Superman, he zipped around the city, making arrangements. He paid visits to Mr. Stern, the Superman foundation, and several other locations, including STAR labs. Then, he flew into the Daily Planet newsroom for a talk with Perry. The superhero talked to his alter ego's boss for a while, zipped out to get a glass of water to help Perry get over his shock, talked a little more, and then flew back out of the newsroom.
The next day, Superman held a press conference in front of the Daily Planet offices. "Ladies and Gentlemen," he started, "thank you for coming on such short notice. As some of you may know, the Daily Planet runs a program called 'Adopt a Family.' My friend, Clark Kent, just told me about it yesterday." The superhero went on to explain about how the program worked. "I think it's a wonderful program, but it needs more… More attention, more people, and more scope. So, I've decided to involve myself personally.
"This year, the Daily Planet, in conjunction with the Superman Foundation, will be running the 'Adopt a Family' program globally. Families in need, of any religion or nationality, can send in their lists to their local Daily Planet or Superman Foundation offices. Those who wish to adopt a family or donate anything may do so through either office, as well. More information will be made available at dailyplanet.com and superman.org. Then, on Christmas Eve, I, personally, will fly around the world and distribute everything.
"Are there any questions?" There were only a few, mostly just reporters checking details and trying to get good sound bytes. Superman ended the conference soon after, thanking everyone for their time.
That evening, the Daily Planet ran the story on the front page, the headline boldly proclaiming "Super Claus! Superman to deliver toys around the world!"
With Superman personally involved, the program got all the publicity anyone could have wished, and more. Lists and donations came flooding in. It was a nightmare trying to coordinate everything, but everyone involved agreed that it was well worth it.
On Christmas Eve, there was a gigantic bright red sack of toys waiting on the roof of every distribution center of the Daily Planet around the world. The sacks, made of the luge suit material, had been donated by STAR Labs, where volunteers from the staff had worked hours to make them.
Superman, starting in Metropolis, and working his way around the time zones, zoomed from house to house, shelter to shelter, and street to street, dragging the local sack behind him. It was a night to exhaust even him (particularly without sunshine to recharge his powers as he went), but when he finally got back to his home city, he was more than happy with the results. He'd delivered literally millions of donated toys and gifts. The sheer volume of the donations had been astounding. The night's work had significantly raised global awareness.
Maybe a single toy wouldn't make much of a difference in the lives of some of the children he'd made deliveries to that night, but maybe having something to believe in would.
With that thought, the weary hero fell into a well-deserved slumber.