Season’s Greetings by Tobias Haglund

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Simon sat at his desk. His boss Michael walked in.

”It’s approaching the holidays.”

”You mean Christmas?”

“No, we can’t say that.”

“Because we don’t want to offend other religions?”

“We don’t want to offend large groups of consumers, yes.”

Michael sat in the sofa and looked over the art for an upcoming campaign.

“Sales are down.”

“How bad is it?”

Michael raised his hand. “No, I don’t have the numbers. But I can feel it. We need to do something right away. We can’t sit here and do nothing. “Michael looked at the merchandise on the table. “This is not pretty enough.”

Michael held up the prototype for the new doll for Simon to see.

“She’s not pretty enough. Her waist needs to be smaller, her eyes bigger, her face widened. And also have a darker tone just beneath the cheekbones to accentuate… Are you even listening to me?”

“Yes, to accentuate.”

“What are you working on?”

“A Christmas poem.”

“A poem? No one reads poetry, are you kidding me? I told you to write something snappy. Two sentences, tops. Something with less than 140 characters. Give it here.”

Michael took the sheet of paper. Simon had drawn hundreds of tiny snowflakes on the side of the text. While Michael started reading, Simon looked out over the city. Shops were closing for the night. Puddles reflected the neon lights.

“Consumerism is the new idol for which to put our faith in… What the hell are you writing?”

“It is made-up scenario. A dystopia. Nothing to care too much about.”

“Five feet from a beggar asking for coins stands a father buying plastics for his son… to avoid a conversation? This is.” Michael looked up at Simon who still looked out. “This is very radical, Simon. If I show this to Mr. Duncan, you’d be fired.”

“Yea”

“Come on, Simon. Something snappy. You used to be so good at this. Make me laugh in a few words.”

“Why not buy a house? It’s never too late to live in the present.”

“Ha-ha! Yea that sort of thing. But we haven’t got a broker on contract right now, but let’s reach out to a couple of brokers and try to sell them that. Come up with something for this doll, would you? I’ll write down a new prototype and we can send it back.”

Michael smiled on his way back to his office. Simon drew another snowflake and crumpled the piece of paper, threw in the trash can and started his computer. He hated the computer.  

Every last bit of humanity was stolen by the IT-revolution. The monitor is a giant impenetrable shield for every asshole with a keyboard.

The computer started and he opened the program.

Something about a cute doll. Doll…I’m selling a drug. While it’s destroying the girls’ self-esteem they can’t get enough. Must have the new and cutest doll. Thinner waists, bigger eyes. The doll has breasts! Nothing comes. They must have. Desire… Something with popularity. She’ll be your friend. No, terrible. I can’t do this. How do I sell something so repulsive…? How do drug dealers sell? Get one for free, trying new stuff and so on. But that’s for exclusivity not for millions of dolls.

Simon stood up and sat down a couple of times. He walked around the office.

The prettiest girl you’ll ever know. Can I work mirror or reflection into this? Something about… You can look as pretty as the doll if you just buy it.

Simon sighed. He reached down the trash can and wrote his resignation letter on the back of his poem.

Tobias Haglund

8 thoughts on “Season’s Greetings by Tobias Haglund

  1. Hi Tobias, I must admit I feel a bit like Simon today slightly overwhelmed by the consumerism of the season. It’s grey and wet outside but if the two rabbits in my garden can get out of their burrow and find food, they make me feel guilty, then I better get out there into the bustle of life, put on a happy face and buy, buy, buy. Oh dear!
    In an odd way I enjoyed reading your story, it was very well written because I was drawn into the lethargic and melancholic mood of Simon, who just needed a day off to find some sunshine. I liked the line, ‘Why not buy a house, it’s never too late to live in the present’. Just don’t tell my daughter that one…I liked the subdued contradiction of the title, which set up an expectation of cheer and then was immediately deflated.
    I hope Simon’s resignation is turned down,

    Nice story.
    James.

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    • I completely agree and I’m very glad you liked it. I also feel a lot like Simon. The “bigger and better mentality” of consumerism frightens me. The product (the doll in this case) must sell more. Not growing a business means death. More presents under the tree and less thought behind the gifts. What I tried to capture was the eternal struggle of creative freedom versus getting a paycheck. But also how a message, any message whether it’s important or not, can come across in a world where everyone shouts slogans. Thanks for the comment. As always I’m very grateful for your kind words!

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    • I forgot to say that I’m glad you picked up on the title. I actually struggled more with the title than the story. Then finally I just thought why not go with a typical “Christmas title” but not have the typical Christmas story.

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  2. You’ve put a lot of time and effort in recently expanding your range of stories Tobias and this is a great example of successfully delivering a great story outside of your comfort zone. A really well thought out and well constructed piece that resonates at this time of year. Cheers, Nik

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Sir. That’s kind of you. I thought the story would fit in the times of buying frenzy that is modern day Christmas. I did sneak in one joke though, so I don’t disappoint my readers (ha! Plural… not likely) completely. Weren’t you working on a Christmas story? I’m sure you’ve edited it to pieces and have rewritten it ten times by now. But seriously it would be interesting to read it!

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  3. I think we’re all embarrassed by the part we are required to play in the annual Christmas consumer fest. These sort of morality tales can be a bit dull – yours is saved by being set behind the scenes, the ad agency, and by a couple of very good lines. (By the way, trash can is an Americanism, we’d say litter or waste-paper bin.)

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    • Thank you, Richard. I originally wrote it in American English (and trash can) to better reflect an Ad agency. Something about this story screams America to me. I changed it to trash bin for some reason. I should go back and change it to trash can again. Thanks for your words.

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