Santa exists. How do we react?

TL;DR: Santa delivers physical objects to 95% of people (including adults) who ask for it in the form of a letter. He will start this Christmas and will continue until decided otherwise. And yes, he will deliver atomic bombs and AK-47's. How do we react?

Most of the parents tell their kids the biggest lie ever: Santa Claus does not exist.

Santa Claus does exist. However, as stated in this brilliant answer, his requirements to put people on the "Good" list were bit too high. Also, to be put on the "Naughty" list, you had to be worse than all serial killers combined.

As a result, Santa did not deliver a single present in the past 100 years. He did not even go on his annual journey during the night of Christmas, since there was no need for it.

We started to believe Santa really does not exist. And at some point, we started to tell this to our kids.

However, this year, Santa decided to rework his metrics of the "Good" list. (And he is going to rework only the "Good" list metrics, his "Naughty" metrics stay untouched).

His reworked metrics put almost every single kid (95%) on the "Good" list. He also manages to secretly copy all the letters addressed to him, so he knows what the kids wish for.

On December 25th, 2015, in the morning, loads of families will discover "extra" presents under the tree. These presents are going to be addressed to the kid wishing for them and contain exactly what the kid wished for.

How does society react?

To sum it up:

• 95% of all letters addressed to Santa, or to his mythical equivalents (Father Christmas, Weihnachtsmann, ...) are fulfilled.
• Santa delivers only physical (touchable) gifts which can be made. No wishes for "world peace" or "get my parents back together" can be fulfilled.
• If there is a kid on the "Good" list who wishes for an "untouchable" gift, that kid gets a gender stereotypical toy instead - a doll for a girl or a toy car for a boy.
• Only wishes for yourself are fulfilled ("I want a doll for my sister" is not fulfilled, but "I want a doll" is).
• Wishing for multiple physical (touchable) items is allowed. Any number of invalid wishes get converted to a single stereotypical toy, delivered in addition to valid requests (if any).
• Santa Claus is a mythical creature, he goes completely undetected and untracked during the night of the gift delivery.
• Should there be a camera or any other device able to spot an "intruder" in somebody's home, that device will malfunction for the time of the gift delivery. Afterwards, it will continue to work normally as if nothing happened.
• Presents are good quality, "A Class" presents made in the North Pole. Santa's elves are able to create a perfect copy of any branded product. So if you wish for a PlayStation 4, you will get a PlayStation 4, but made by elves (still identical to and compatible with a PS4 by Sony).
• Wishes for live animals are fulfilled by delivering a plush toy in the shape of that animal.
• All untouchable wishes convert to just one touchable gift (you get only one toy car for wishing world peace and everyone having something to eat).

Edit: I know that such rules are unfair and kids in the first world will get double amounts of PlayStation and Xboxes, while a kid in the third world will get a toy car or a plush toy. But "fairness" of the gift delivery system is out of scope for this question.

Edit 2: Examples of how wishes are fulfilled:

Girl wishes for Nintendo Wii U console -> Gets perfect working replica of that console

Boy wishes for world peace -> Gets toy car

Girl wishes for a live shark and for everyone having something to eat -> Gets plush shark and a doll

Boy wishes for iPhone and Apple store gift card -> Gets perfect working copy of iPhone and a toy car

Edit 3: Please note that the current state of Earth is assumed in this question. So these gifts are given to you in addition to whatever your relatives bought for you, because they stopped believing in Santa and assumed he doesn't exist.

• What if I wish for infinite things, where each individual thing is valid? – PyRulez Dec 16 '15 at 21:29
• I wish Santa wouldn't give kids gender stereotypical toys in 2015. Why it Matters – Mel Dec 18 '15 at 11:00
• My point exactly: Santa should give the same touchable gift to any kid that wish for an untouchable gift. That's the simplest and easiest rule, and doesn't offend anyone. – Mel Dec 18 '15 at 11:35
• @tmoreau what specifically should that be? Name me one thing which does not offend anyone – Pavel Janicek Dec 18 '15 at 11:40
• What about a gallon of explodium? Also other vaguely-defined, but perfectly material gifts? – Daerdemandt Dec 3 '16 at 23:21

The end of the world.

Once a group of clever yet malevolent people have monitored how wishes have been fulfilled, they notice that 95% of wishes are fulfilled when touchables are wished for, and only for children.

They start by recruiting/kidnapping children filled with naivety, optimism, wonder, and joy and run a really fun base where the kids get to play, but they never learn about what an AK-47 is or what it does. The kids will be brainwashed into thinking that everything the terrorist organisation says to them is for the greater good.

Being on the "good" list, the children are then told to write a letter requesting for material items like real weaponry that do not contain any sort of trackable serial number or registration, because their source is of mythical origin. Eventually, they test the waters with weaponry that is beyond current technology, such as antimatter, powerful petawatt lasers, etc.

This works because the children are still good, and haven't committed any crime yet.

When they have amassed enough weaponry, the terrorists who control the children coordinate a strike against all of the countries, remove their control of any nuclear attack options, and obtain world domination.

When the rest of the planet learns what it must do (similar tactic, usage of children to obtain a retaliation plan) the planet goes into an arms race, using children to obtain greater and more powerful weapons until it goes too far and wipes out life on Earth.

So long and thanks for all the fish.

• Given the parameters of the question as of right now, Santa would deliver weaponry. OP did not specify that Santa can choose to not fulfill based on his feelings about the gift. The key words here are 95%. That means that with 100 kids, 95 touchables must be fulfilled. I also took liberty with ethical philosophy - weapons themselves are not inherently evil; the terrorists are. They stockpile the weaponry and do nothing "evil" with them until it's time to coordinate the attack. – The Anathema Dec 15 '15 at 16:22
• I see nothing that says that Santa is compelled to deliver anything you ask for. Santa runs the show, so he gets to make the rules. Santa also makes adjustments and interpretations as necessary. And there will be a lot of interpretations. Otherwise a kid asking for a train is going to get a real train, not a toy. – Mohair Dec 15 '15 at 16:36
• The "95%" applies to the proportion of children who meet the new criteria for the "good list", it has no bearing on whether particular requests are fulfilled or not. The question criteria make it clear Santa is not bound to interpret present requests literally and can modify the gift for ethical or safety reasons (i.e. if you wish for a real shark and get a plush shark toy, why would wishing for a petawatt laser get you a real laser instead of a toy laser gun). – Nathan Griffiths Dec 15 '15 at 20:44
• There is nothing in that quote that supports your assertion that Santa is compelled to deliver weapons if they are requested. Quite the opposite, it shows that in this scenario Santa has discretion about whether certain wishes are fulfilled literally or not. – Nathan Griffiths Dec 15 '15 at 21:24
• @Nathan Since OP was careful enough to specify rules around touchables and explicitly disallowed money, I don't feel a need to embellish for OP and assume any rationale for Santa's decisions and disallow extra things if it wasn't part of the original question. It can be added to the question if you think it should be but as it stands now there's no exclusion for weaponry so my answer is valid. It states that all wishes for animals are returned with plush toys, regardless of species, and it is explicitly said that 95% of wishes are fulfilled. – The Anathema Dec 15 '15 at 21:32

Let's take this step by step.

First year: confusion. But humans can be smart, too. After the 2nd, latest 3d, year, they will have figured out what has happened: Santa is suddenly real!!!
See the rise of "smart wishing phase 1": a Ton of Gold, Diamonds etc. (Edit made: No Money-Wishes, but there is enough non-money-valuable-stuff!) For a while, that will mean that people with children will be better off that those without. Sorry, adults, no presents for you!

But tossing loads of money, gold etc into the economy will totally overthrow it. (Some economics-people chime in here? Huge influx of money and valuables once a year?). So, we end up with a totally changed economy.

Next step: How smart is Santa anyway? Parents can easily tell their children to wish for something! But let's say he lets "parents tell their kids what to wish for" slide and continues giving.
Welcome loads of new children: "Hey, let's have a kid so we can be rich!", and smart wishing, Phase 2: what can you wish for that will carry you over the year?

We have been pushed into post-scarcity, IF we are smart in our use of Santa! So, follow up question: what are Santas limits? Can he make a Star trek Style replicator with a one year battery.. or even an endless automatic energy supply?

Alternative and darker view: Bye Bye earth... sorry, one or two kids wished for an antimatter-bomb...

Edit after OP comment: So, everyone is a child -> No needs for kids to be rich!

• Corner cases again :) BTW, in one of my hectic edits I made money as untouchable gift. But forgot on the gold. So asking for pile of money would give you toy car. And asking for pile of gold would give you pile of gold. (Poor elves have to dig deep for this) – Pavel Janicek Dec 15 '15 at 14:26
• And, you missed one corner case which I left there on purpose: If you adress wish to Santa and pass "Good" list, you get wish fulfilled. Santa sees everyone as a child – Pavel Janicek Dec 15 '15 at 14:38
• The fact that the value of major world currencies are no longer tied to precious metals would hopefully mitigate any unexpected swings in commodities. – Wingman4l7 Dec 15 '15 at 20:01
• FYI It'd take an insanely huge amount of anti-matter to destroy the planet (vs a town or city). 1kg of mass has the energy of 21.5 megatons of HE. So 1 kg of antimatter would produce a 43 MT explosion (doubled since it'd annihilate an equal amount of matter). Even a potentially extinction level event would be really pushing it, the Chicxulub impactor (dinosaurs) released 1.3 * 10^8 megatons of energy; equivalent to the blast from the annihilation of 3000 tons of antimatter. – Dan Neely Dec 16 '15 at 13:51
• @DanNeely Coincidentally, around 3000 tons of He are produced annually by radioactive decay in the lithosphere... – Michael Dec 16 '15 at 23:16

One stupid wish is all it takes

It really doesn't matter what 99,999% of the worlds population wish for next year, because a single crazy world-destroying wish is enough to destroy earth. As soon as some geeks start to figure out, they can possibly wish for anything, someone will test the limits by wishing for something like:

A moon sized ball of antimatter
My own sun
A quintillion megatons of gold
The Deathstar
A massive real-size 1:1 model of Saturn, made out of wood
A black Hole the size of a Football
A spoonfull of the most deadly Virus imaginable


As soon as one of these is delivered onto the house of the wishing kid, earth will cease to exist.

• Isn't someone who wishes for something that would destroy the world automatically on the bad list, even if they do it totally innocently? – Monty Wild Dec 16 '15 at 22:42
• Hmmmm...maybe not. Options 1, 2, 3, 5, and 7 probably result in the immediate destruction of the Earth. Option 4 - you'd end up with a large unmanned artificial satellite. I suppose the outcome would depend on who could get to into it first and figure out how to use it. Option 8 might result in the death of the human race (assuming that this virus was in fact deadly to humans), but virii tend to be species or family-specific. And even if it wiped out all living things, the Earth itself would still continue around the sun, subject to orbital decay, galactic collisions, and etc. :-) – Bob Jarvis - Reinstate Monica Dec 17 '15 at 1:18
• I do not have precise sizing information on "The Deathstar" beyond a small moon, but OP did specify that gifts were to be delivered "under the tree," not in orbit. Even if the Deathstar was magically placed under the tree with no momentum, the household, the city, the state, and possibly the whole country (depending which one) would be destroyed, or at least drastically resurfaced. Perhaps the Earth would not cease to exist, but I expect it would be quite unpleasant, if hospitable at all. – whitehat101 Dec 17 '15 at 4:48
• I was stupid enough as a kid to wish for antimatter, having not yet learned how difficult it was to contain. I wanted to build a warp drive of course. – Joshua Apr 18 '17 at 15:15
• We are a bit fortunate in the case of the most deadly virus imaginable, as viruses are often considered alive. Someone gets a plush toy virus. – Vincent Oct 17 '17 at 5:00

Per your universe's rules, asking for a piece of integrated circuit technology gets the child a perfect working copy, made by elves. (examples given are the PS4, Wii U, iPhone).

Such devices often have encryption keys to secure their firmware so that people cannot modify them to use pirated games or software. The security of these keys are based on the presupposition that the prime factorization of large numbers takes too much time and computing power to be completed in a reasonable length of time.

So, how can Santa provide flawless replica units? There are several possible explanations:

1. Santa's operation is involved in large-scale industrial espionage (so it can obtain the private keys for the electronics it duplicates)
2. Santa's workshop is excellent at discovering security vulnerabilities in all the newest hardware & firmware (which allows them to root devices, counterfeit boot-loaders, etc.)
3. Santa has discovered a groundbreaking method of prime factorization

The third possibility is the most intriguing, and the most worrisome. Perhaps Santa's workshop has developed workable quantum computing. In any event, the encryption that most of the world relies upon has now been rendered obsolete overnight. Financial transactions and military communications are all vulnerable. This will result in dire geopolitical consequences.

The intelligence agencies of all the major world governments will be desperate to discover the secret. Assuming that Santa's methods cannot be reverse-engineered from examining his perfect replica devices, Santa can expect an onslaught of black-bag operations directed at his North Pole facilities.

• Or Santa found a way to perfectly replicate a PS4. It would not contain a new key, but one taken from an already manufactured PS4. I don't know if anyone would notice that though (after all it is not that hard to produce an encrypted running number). – J_F_B_M Dec 15 '15 at 23:12
• @Wingman4l7 that's very easy actually. If you check, you will see that the IMEI allocated to your phone comes to a range that belongs to an obscure company registered in the North Pole… – Ángel Dec 16 '15 at 0:31
• I don't think Santa would need a "groundbreaking method of prime factorization". Given that his ability to create computing devices is apparently unbounded by resource constraints, he may simply have the necessary computing power to do it the slow way. – j__m Dec 16 '15 at 1:14
• @j__m: Gee. I wonder where he has it. The total energy of all the fuels of the earth including the nuclear fuels is insufficient. – Joshua Dec 16 '15 at 2:37
• So Santa can replicate any manufactured object ever made and make instant, massive, world-wide delivery - but factoring prime numbers is a challenge. I love us, nerds :) – mgarciaisaia Dec 16 '15 at 18:38

It's a funny kind of Santa who can do all this stuff, but not see abuse coming a mile away.

Santa changed the rules once. He can change them again.

So Ernst Stavro Blofeld asks Santa for a hollow volcano this year, with a lovely retracting roof and a cavern full of old IBM mainframes with blinking lights to track his evil satellites, etc. Santa says... sure, why not?

And on jobs.stackexchange.com, many vaguely-specified Cobol jobs appear on Boxing Day with a German language requirement. Must love sharks! With laser beams!

Over the next twelve months, Blofeld accumulates an army of enslaved children all furiously writing letters to Santa asking for nukes, laser satellites, attack helicopters, vicious dogs, stealth submarines, and tanks full of sharks with laser beams. And pallet after pallet full of old Winchester drives for the mainframes.

On Christmas morning, Santa slides down Blofeld's volcanic chimney bearing... thousands of beautifully tailored new Nehru jackets for the enslaved children, plus toy cars, dolls, LED headlamps, and maps of the hidden escape routes out of the stupid volcano.

And a bag of coal for Blofeld, a feather toy for his cat, and toy cars for his henchmen who've been waiting twelve months for their weapons.

And for the Cobol jockeys? O'Reilly books. Thousands and thousands of O'Reilly books. They'd rather have subscriptions to lynda.com, but that's not tangible. Santa decided to keep enforcing that rule (jerk...).

You may be an evil genius, but Santa's not as dumb as he looks.

If your rules should say that Santa is just syntactic sugar for a magic wand that has no agency of its own, that should be in there explicitly.

UPDATE:

Bonus band name: Blofeld's Cat.

We cry tears of the most sincere kind of joy.

There is something primal about the protection of and care for children that resonates powerfully with most people, especially struggling parents. Having children, you want to be able to give them everything they could ever ask for, but sometimes you can't do anything at all. Sometimes you can't even be there.

And then all of a sudden, here is this man, this myth, centuries old and endlessly loving, and he was listening, and he could do something, even if we couldn't. He doesn't care if you're American, Afghani, or Somali, only that you were good.

Everything we know about the world is now wrong, and the world is forever a kinder gentler place.

• How is everything we know about the world wrong? How is the world is forever a kinder gentler place? Santa didn't just show up. He's always been around. It's the world that left him behind for the past 100 years. Now he only shows up again by relaxing the requirements. If the world pushed him away once, the world is perfectly capable of doing it again. – Mohair Dec 15 '15 at 16:40
• @Mohair, Maybe I'm too sentimental for this sort of thing. But having lived through a few "hard candy Christmas" years, and spent years in the Navy away from my family, I see the existence of Santa as evidence of at least some kind of objective good in a world that I currently know to be capable of fresh new darkness daily. Proof positive of a real and loving God, from any religion, would be the only greater joy I could personally imagine. – Sean Boddy Dec 15 '15 at 16:47
• Have fun getting robbed because robbers know that on this day you've got any material thing you could wish for. – Daerdemandt Dec 3 '16 at 23:28

Now that people understand that Santa is not a myth, they understand at the same time how the industry used and abused from Santa's (temporary) lack of judgment.

People return to the true spirit of Christmas and cease doing gifts - and, hence, purchases - during Christmas : A true / pure / ... gift can only by made by this all-giving 'person'.

The whole world economy goes 30% down (no more black friday). Then even further down, with no loss since values changed : sharing what's available, not giving one 350 times the salary that another has, is just an obvious rule now. People of the world, even of north America, understand that this is only for the best : less envy, less pollution, then, soon, less tornado, floods, massive fires and such : even the dumbest global warming sceptics understand, both with their reason and warmed by the pure generosity that just shown, that money, possession, ... is not the way to human happiness.

Soon enough, the power of the monstrous worldwide companies drops severely -after all, now elves can build an iPhone without killing any Chinese worker, and one can have a book without having someone paid \$5 an hour an performance-tracked by Amazon, so now people ask less and less and know that having less, and waiting for it is not that bad - better, in fact -.
Economy re-organizes itself around more human, slower, shorter paths.
Oil use drops, oil prices drop, and the so-called powerful nations cease to defend money against justice. Just and democratic regimes can rise in many poor nations without a CIA bullet to break it all. Terrorism, the political answer to the violent economic war of the north against the south, soon becomes severely critized in its very nest, and vanishes.
It's Christmas time.

• I like it...welcome to the site. – James Dec 15 '15 at 21:19
• @James. Thanks. I've been a reader for quite some time with great pleasure, i decided to jump in tonight... – GameAlchemist Dec 15 '15 at 21:23
• +1, especially since nobody really needs to buy anything non-urgent at all anymore: just have the kid list it the following Christmas-time. "We need a new washing machine..." "Can it wait until the 25th of December?" – Mikey Dec 15 '15 at 22:15
• Realigning your whole economy to the whims of Santa seems rather foolish to me, but I guess it would be the natural result. However, one unintended consequence to children getting what they want is that there would be less charity, and there would be no secondary market for used toys, games, clothing, etc. Expect a lot more trash to fill up our landfills. – Mohair Dec 16 '15 at 0:26
• there would be a helluvalot of research into manipulating the wishes of children, though. And circumventing what Santa can do, to have a working subscription-based economy. – kaay Dec 16 '15 at 14:41

Cascading effects that result in global conflict.

The first year will herald a glorious and wonderful year for those parts of the world who believe in Santa and somehow still utilize written letters to him.

As those who actually followed the custom start reporting the arrival of gifts, the world starts taking notice that perhaps there is more than we knew.

Religious leaders across the world start reacting.

• Some declare this to be the proof that the Christian belief is correct.
• Other already extremist movements deny the truth, portraying the events as some kind of sinister plot.
• The divide between already opposed religions grows wider, the world has become a tiny bit more fractured and a tiny bit worse.

The one time occurrence causes many to try and exploit the system.

• People start preparing for the next year. Creating ridiculous lists
of wishes, both material and immaterial.
• Opposing movements declare that the resurgence of Santa was because of insert odd reason here.
• They believe that those who are attempting to exploit the system will cause its end.
• Or worse, cause divine retaliation.
• The first acts of violence occur as devout Santa-ists try and prevent children from creating wish-lists.

The next year's Santa season only makes things worse.

• As people start manipulating children, riches and destruction are asked for in vast quantities. While one man asked for a fancy car, his neighbor asked for the tools to destroy that very car.
• Countries around the world start demanding a ban on Christmas, to prevent the chaos.
• Christian nations see this as an attack on their faith.
• Before long, it becomes clear that there is no limit to the possible gifts bestowed by Santa.
• And as chaotic as the world is, a world with unlimited resources is vastly worse.
• In a misguided attempt to protect themselves, several nations around the world declare war on each other, and the third world war begins.

Thanks Santa!

Other random effects:

• One-child policies abandoned.
• The end of pine trees across the world as a global harvest ends their lives.
• Literacy goes through the roof, as wish lists become more important.
• Elf fiction becomes thoroughly odd.
• Slavery discussions ensue around the world, with movements to save elves.
• The church of Santa becomes one of the largest religions.
• Several people are released from insane asylums.
• Doll and toy car manufacturers around the world file for bankruptcy.
• News broadcasters around the world go on the hunt for fat bearded men.
• Fat bearded men around the world go into hiding.
• Church of Santa -- I love that angle! – Wingman4l7 Dec 16 '15 at 16:39
• Doll and toy car sales may plummet, but kids still have birthdays. I don't see toy manufacturers going out of business. Besides, Santa just copies toys. If no one makes new toys, then the same toys will be around for years. – Mohair Dec 16 '15 at 20:50
• "...creating ridiculous lists...". One year one of our daughters copied the entire American Girl catalog out, in long hand. She didn't get everything on her list - but she certainly showed industry and determination. I'll point out that this kid is now at Harvard. I'm not sure if there's a correlation there... :-) – Bob Jarvis - Reinstate Monica Dec 17 '15 at 1:25
• > one man asked for a fancy car, his neighbor asked for the tools to destroy that very car One man asked for a fancy car, his neighbour asked for tools to steal that car and many other stuff. First man anticipated that and asked for tools to defend his property. Imagination arms race, yay! – Daerdemandt Dec 3 '16 at 23:31

ORSON, IN—Characters from ABC situational comedy The Middle are reportedly still in complete and utter shock after the conclusion of a recent Christmas episode revealed that Santa Claus does in fact exist. “Jesus, are we going insane?” said the show’s protagonist Frankie Heck, several days after hearing the faint sound of sleigh bells as her 10-year-old son Brick joyously unwrapped a popular new toy that she and her husband were unable to buy in time for Christmas. “This essentially alters my entire perception of reality. There is an immortal being out there who leads a workshop of elves on the North Pole and hand-delivers presents to every child on earth in a single night? One minute we were trying to resolve a relatable, commonplace domestic situation, and the next we learned that time and space can be completely altered—I feel like I’m losing my fucking mind.” Sources confirmed the shaken couple then refused to help their oldest daughter Sue prepare for an upcoming school dance, claiming that “none of this bullshit matters anymore.”

• This doesn't attempt to answer the questions (while it is funny) this would be better shared as a link in the comments. – James Dec 15 '15 at 18:44
• This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post. - From Review – James Dec 15 '15 at 18:44
• @James it's a complete example of how sitcom characters react to discovering santa exists, how does this not answer the question? do I need to change their blurb to bullet point form and write in the subjunctive voice or something? – djechlin Dec 15 '15 at 18:49
• Your answer does not address the points made in the question, which is kind of the whole point. – James Dec 15 '15 at 18:58
• Mork calling Orson - Mork calling Orson - come in, Orson! – Bob Jarvis - Reinstate Monica Dec 17 '15 at 1:21
1. All nations immediately cede sovereignty over their post offices to the United Nations. UPS, Fedex and DHL are nationalized.

2. UN bureaucrats tirelessly sift through Santa letters to prevent world destroying wishes from getting through to Santa.

3. Human and weapons smugglers, drug traffickers, and the like bypass UN controls and illegally deliver letters directly to Santa.

4. All those smugglers get hungry up in the arctic and start eating baby seals and shooting polar bears for food.

5. Greenpeace recruits an army and wages war against the Santa smugglers.

6. The elves develop a black market, parallel mail system.

7. Surveillance cameras are installed in all children's bedrooms worldwide. Pencils, pens, and crayons are banned. Special OCR software is installed in computer printers to prevent unauthorized letters from being printed.

8. Jailbreak exploits are published on the internet to bypass controls.

9. The internet is shut down.

10. As every teenager knows, that is the definition of: THE END OF THE WORLD!