A Little Fiction – A Boxing Day Tale

photo of santa claus sleeping
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

‘…Always the same these days,’ said the old man randomly stabbing the buttons on the remote control. ‘Reality TV and repeats. Whatever happened to Morecambe and Wise? Whatever happened to Only Fools and Horses? Whatever happened to Val Doonican?’ He switched off the set as the latest X-Factor winner made his final ever TV appearance before returning to his life of flipping burgers and performing in the local Working Man’s Club on a Saturday evening – a valid life, with which he would have been perfectly happy, if only some idiot had not told him he could be a star.

‘Here,’ said Mrs Claus. ‘I was watching that.’ With a glare, Santa turned the TV back on. ‘Moan, moan, moan,’ continued the old woman, even as the seasonal Celebrity-Something-Or-Other burst into noisome life. ‘That’s all you do these days, moan, moan, moan. I’ll be happy when December comes about again: get you out of my hair.’
‘Yes, well,’ said Santa, stroking his beard agitatedly. ‘I’ve been thinking about that. I think I might retire. I’m tired. This is no job for an old man.’
Mrs Claus stared at him for a very long time whilst she considered spending even more time with him than she currently did. ‘What do you mean, no job for an old man? Who else is going to do it? It has to be an old man.’
‘Could be a woman.’
‘Not according to all of the literature.’
‘Literature can be modified,’ S.C. muttered, darkly.
‘Besides,’ ploughed on the old lady, ignoring the truth in her husband’s argument ‘You only really work one day a year – it’s a long day I’ll grant you, but other than have a few kids to sit on your lap through December, what else do you do?’
‘Elves don’t look after themselves, you know,’ he snapped. ‘Elves do not forward plan. Leave it to the elves and we’d have, come Christmas Eve, nothing more than dolls and wooden forts. And’ he continued, a steely glint entering his eye ‘Kids do not sit on my knee anymore. Not allowed. If I can drag the little bleeders away from their mobile phones for a minute, they pull my beard, wipe KFC down my coat and kick me in the shin before asking me for a vaping kit.’
‘What you need is a good sleep,’ soothed Mrs C. ‘Why not go to bed? Don’t worry about setting an alarm; I’ll wake you in March.’
‘Why March? What’s happening in March?’
‘Just a few promotional shots. Nothing taxing. Maybe a video or two. Few minutes work; nothing more.’
‘Promotional shots?’ he spluttered. ‘Promotional shots? Why do I need promotional shots? There’s only one of me. I’ve got more people on my books than I can handle already.’
‘Never hurts to advertise,’ she said, placing a small glass of sherry at his side. ‘Here, drink this.’
The old man eyed the drink. ‘Sherry?’ he coughed. ‘Sherry? Have you any idea how many glasses of sherry I drank last night? You’ll be offering me a mince pie next.’ He glared into the fire. ‘I’ll tell them in the morning,’ he said at last. ‘I’ll tell them I’m packing it in; that I’ve had enough.’
‘Tell who?’
‘Well… I’ve no idea. I’ll find someone.’
‘And what about the children?’
‘They won’t even notice, as long as they still get all of their stuff, they won’t care who brings it. The magic has gone already. They’ll never know.’ Despite himself, he drained the sherry in a single gulp. ‘I’m off to bed,’ he said.
‘Fine,’ said Mrs Claus. ‘No problem. Just before you do, though, can you read this so that I can reply.’
‘What is it?’
‘It’s a letter. It came down the chimney earlier while you were out talking to the reindeer.’
‘A letter? My God, they start earlier and earlier with their demands, don’t they? Can you read it to me? I don’t know what I’ve done with my glasses.’
Mrs Claus unfolded the single sheet of paper and, having cleared her throat, she read. ‘‘Dear Santa. Thank you for everything. I hope you get some rest today. I love you X.’ Carefully she refolded the letter, ‘Shall I burn it?’ she asked.

Santa coughed slightly and rubbed gently at what might just have been a little itch in the corner of his eye. ‘No,’ he said. ‘Give it to me. I’ll reply now and then I suppose I’d better go and get some sleep. I’ve got a busy December next year…’

The Haphazardly Poetical – ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas

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(with abject apologies to Clement Clarke Moore)


‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
It should have been squeaking away at its wheel
Not laying face down and stiff in its meal.
 
 
There’ll be tears in the morn’ when she comes with his bread
And your dear little daughter discovers him dead,
But still, do not worry, she will not stay sad
When she spots, through the wrapping, that she’s got an i-pad.
 
 
The stockings we hung by the chimney with strings,
Were not for all the extravagant things:
For those they have hanging, at the end of their beds
Two giant sacks with their names on instead.
 
 
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
Whilst visions of smart phones danced in their heads
And mummy and I, with an hour to kill,
Were fearfully reading the credit card bill.
 
 
When out in the street arose such a din,
‘Cos the people next door were trying to get in,
But the key they were trying was turning no more,
Which wasn’t surprising – it wasn’t their door.
 
 
‘If you hadn’t guzzled that last Famous Grouse,
You’d have known straight away that it wasn’t our house.’
Said the wobbling wife as she stumbled for home
And was sick down the back of a small plastic gnome.
 
 
‘It’s four in the morning,’ an angry voice cried.
‘Just shut up your racket or I’m coming outside.’
Then all became silent, except, from afar
The sound of a key down the side of their car.
 
 
As dry leaves start falling from autumnal trees,
So snow began drifting along on the breeze
And high in the sky at the reins of his sled,
A white bearded man with a hat on his head.
 
 
‘Now Dasher, now Dancer, now Prancer and Vixen.
On Comet, on Cupid, on Donner and Blitzen!’
He cried to the reindeer in tones slurred and merry,
Having just swallowed down his ten thousandth sherry.
 
 
And then, for a moment, I heard from the roof
An outburst of language that seemed most uncouth,
Then a flash by the window – a red and white blur
Of fat man and white beard; of red felt and fur.
 
 
He knocked on the door when he’d climbed to his feet
And adjusted his cloak ‘gainst the cold blinding sleet.
‘Just give me five minutes to sit by your fire
And I’ll see that your children get all they desire.’
 
 
We gave him some tea and both patiently sat
As he talked about this and he talked about that
And then, having eaten the last hot mince pie
He rose and he slapped on his red-trousered thigh.
 
 
He yawned – ‘I must return to my duty
My sled is still packed with a mountain of booty.’
And then, as he turned to the door with a wave
We reminded him of the promise he gave.
 
 
‘Of course, yes,’ he laughed, his jolly face beaming.
‘But quick now, while the kids are still dreaming.
Here, look at this dolly with glass-beaded eyes
And this wig and some glasses to make a disguise.’
 
 
‘A car made of tin and a train made of wood.
This big Snakes & Ladders is really quite good.
An orange, some nuts and a new, shiny penny.’
But electrical goods he hadn’t got any.
 
 
‘You conman,’ we cried. ‘You are not Santa Claus.
If we’d known it we would have left you outdoors.
The real Father Christmas would not carry such tat.
We want top class products – and brand names at that.’
 
 
‘Our kids will go mad if we give them this shite:
There are no soddin’ batteries and no gigabytes.
They don’t give a monkeys about innocence lost;
Just leave them a bill so they know what stuff costs.’
 
 
He turned to us now and his eyes filled with tears,
‘These presents have kept children happy for years.’
We looked at the list of the rubbish he’d got.
‘You silly old fool, you are losing the plot.’
 
 
He sprang to his sleigh crying ‘Sod this, I’m beat!’
And they all flew away to their Lapland retreat,
But I heard him exclaim ‘They are never content.
Now the thought doesn’t count – just the money you’ve spent.’
 
 
And so Christmas morning descended with gloom.
The children both rose and they looked round the room
At the i-phones, the i-pads, the Xbox and games
And they pulled at the labels and picked out their names.
 
 
Then at last they had finished, all presents unwrapped,
And we sat down for breakfast all energy sapped.
‘This is lame,’ they exclaimed.  ‘This day is a bore.’
‘We’ve only got what we asked Santa Claus for.’
 
 
Then they saw on the floor where the old man had stood
A doll made of cloth and a train made of wood
And happily, low-tech, they played all the day
Whilst we packed all of their i-stuff away.