Mrs. Claus was a little worried. Her husband normally started to get pretty tired at this time of year. Not surprising, considering all the letters coming in with gift requests, work shifts flat out 24/7 in the toy factory, and keeping the elves’ noses to the grindstone and out of the eggnog.
But tonight he seemed more than just tired. A little bit down. Very un-santa-like. Hardly a Ho! Ho! Ho! out of him for days. Maybe he needed a little shot of the eggnog she was keeping hidden from the elves. Not too much now, just a wee drop. She poured a small cup, popped it into the microwave for 20 seconds and walked over to where he was slumped in his chair staring at a pile of letters on the floor.
“Here you go Nicky, have a little swally of this,” she chirped, holding the cup under his nose. At times like this she often called him Nicky after his great uncle St. Nicholas, whom he admired very much. It rarely failed to get a smile out of him, but this evening, not a Ho!
He looked up at her. His brow was crowded with wrinkles but his eyes were twinkle-free.
“Come on Krissy” she soothed. When all else failed she could always raise his spirits by calling him after his other great uncle, Kris Kringle, his absolute favourite. “It’s not as bad as all that. Down the hatch and tell me what’s the matter.
The tiniest of smiles, barely visible below his mountainous white moustache, flickered across his lips and faded away as quickly as it had come.
He reached out and took the cup from her. A frugal sip and he looked up, gratitude igniting a mini-twinkle in his left, then his right eye. “Thanks Maid, this is delicious.”
A large swallow, then another produced a small burp, and suddenly a broad smile escaped from beneath his moustache. The grin rolled like a wave left and right across his face until it splashed up on each of his cheeks, spreading a warm pink glow. “Best kind my love” he breathed, wrapping his arms around her and squeezing hard.
“I’m just a foolish old Santa,” he breathed into her ear. I shouldn’t let these Lord Jeezely letters get to me, but some of them ... well ... I’m earning my stamps this season, I guarantee you.”
“Here’s one from a fella named Sullivan.”
“And another from someone who calls herself Premier Kathy Dunderdale”
Mrs. Claus took the three letters from her husband, crumpled them into a ball and threw them into the fireplace. The roaring blaze consumed them in an instant.
“There,” she said. “That takes care of that. Now Kris, my dearest Santa husband, let’s not forget rule No. 1. Any letter typed by computer on government or big business letterhead goes directly into the fire.
“Christmas is for children. Kids don’t usually have their own letterhead.”
Here’s one I think you’ll like. Listen to this.”