Santa got out of his sleigh, every joint aching with arthritis. In his hoarse, wispy voice he told the deer to stay until he came back as he had done for 500 years. Surely the deer would have stayed there anyway, for they were nearly too tired to go on. Santa slipped on a snow-covered shingle a few feet from the chimney, almost falling. Gaining balance, he got in and started inching downward. Halfway down — five minutes later — the passage seemed to become horribly narrow. But it really wasn’t. Santa had just put on weight through the years. He hung there, twisting and turning, wondering why he hadn’t listened to his wife, who had told him not to eat so much. Suddenly, he gave way like a cork, shooting down rapidly. The impact left him out of what little breath he was still able to hold, and whimpering with pain. This woke up the father of the house, but thinking it was only the dog begging for a few scraps, he went back to sleep. After rising and dragging his bag across the room, Santa took out various presents for every member of the family, including the snotty twins. So senile was he, that he never remembered to give lumps of coal to those who had been bad during the year. Besides, the coal was too heavy for him to carry any more.
The presents he passed out were badly wrapped, with the paper wrinkled. Some even lacked wrapping entirely, for the elves drank heavily as their palsy years wore on. Santa proceeded through the night, everything going the same as before (slower and slower). One woman screamed when she heard him try to laugh with his old jolliness, thinking he was a burglar. Totally exhausted, he stumbled into his sleigh. After many futile and heartbreaking attempts the reindeer took off on their journey back to the North Pole.
Poor Santa had completely forgotten about the children in South America. No presents would be in their houses the next morning. Many hours passed before Santa realized the sleigh was off course. Yelling at the deer to turn 35 degrees to the right, he thought how Rudolph could have guided them had he not died of cirrhosis.
Suddenly, the head reindeer fell from exhaustion. The rest plunged afterward. With the skill of an old and feeble jet pilot Santa crash-landed into a hill of snow. Two of the reindeer died in the explosion. Santa rounded up the others. He made a fire out of the boards from the sleigh and they all huddled up against it. A while later, a tear trickled down the face of one of the remaining reindeer. The Spirit of Christmas had just died.