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June 2019
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2006-12-24 Santas Bad Day?

A thick blanket of crisp, white, spotless snow engulfed the landscape for as far as the eye could see. The air was arctic and pure. Icicle art adorned the guttering. Inside the wooden dwelling, a log fire crackled in the wide welcoming hearth - the warm air delicately perfumed with pine, cinnamon, and other sundry seasonal scents.


Santa rolled over beneath his snuggly king-sized eiderdown, his left eye opening reluctantly to make out the time on the old alarm clock by the bed&&. HORROR OF HORRORS  Santas worst nightmare They had overslept! The Clauses had 364 days to prepare for their big day, and theyd slept in. It was Christmas Eve in Lapland, and the big guy was way behind schedule. Santa rolled out of bed, rushed to the wardrobe, and grabbed his big red suit off the hanger to get ready for what was going to be a manic Christmas Eve.


But Santas bad day had only just begun  his jacket buttons wouldnt fasten and his trousers had shrunk.


 I cant believe Ive piled on more weight!, Santa roared. Mrs Claus skulked out of the bedroom  blushing - knowing she had boil-washed her husbands uniform.

Santa had been up late the night before tending to Prancer who was a little under the weather with tinselitis. And as if that wasnt bad enough, Maisie the Mechanic Elf had detected a problem with Santas sleighdar, which could have serious implications for Santas marathon journey ahead, AND Rachel the Ribbon Elf, along with her efficient team of wrappers, were way behind schedule, AND Rachel was just about to lose Trevor the Tailoring Elf who would now have to set about altering Santas red suit. Could things get any WORSE? By mid-afternoon, it was time for the sleigh to set off for the most distant time-zone&&. New Zealand. Any unwrapped presents were piled into the open sleigh to be wrapped en route. Santa and his elf-team took off.


Elton the Elder-elf was in charge of routing, but he had developed a touch of tinselitis too. With the unpredictability of Santas sleighdar, coupled with Eltons ever-weakening voice projection, some of the directions were simply not making their way to Norman the Navigating Elf. Left, LEFT!, Elton croaked pathetically.

As Santas team passed over East Africa, the sleigh encountered severe turbulence. By now poor Prancer was feeling decidedly bilious. Even Rudolphs nose had turned a pale shade of pink. Santa was now really wishing he had convinced Vivian the Veterinary Elf to accompany the team on their big journey, but Vivian had stayed at home in Lapland to try to control the tinselitis epidemic.


Santa made the decision to land as soon as possible, and was lured towards some distant lights. It was early evening, and Santa had landed the sleigh in a muddy street in a slum on the outskirts of the Kenyan capital Nairobi. Hundreds of children gathered around the sleigh  their eyes wide with excitement. Of course they had heard of Santa Claus, but had never dreamed of seeing him in person. They had also never set eyes on such a large, rosy, perspiring, over-dressed man in their sweltering East-African climate.


In the intense heat, Santas heart melted. Tears rolled down his rosy cheeks. Santa and his emotional elves gazed at the unwrapped presents in the back of the sleigh, and decided to hand out the Teddies, Barbies, Action Men, trucks, musical instruments and other toys and assorted sweets to the hundreds of dancing cheering children who had engulfed the sleigh. Each grateful child gave the rotund red stranger a warmhearted lingering hug, and then skipped back to their makeshift homes, to experience their first real Christmas.


Stretching his legs before his onward journey, Santa peered inside a nearby shack, where a mother was feeding her tiny starving baby. Her other five children huddled by a fading fire. After Santa deposited seven presents, he reached deep inside his large coat pockets for the generous packed lunches Mrs Claus had prepared for him and his hard-working team earlier in the day, and he handed them to the needy mother of six. The lady smiled weakly at Santa Claus, bowed her head, and squeezed Santas hand tightly in deep appreciation.


Santa eventually pulled himself away from the agonizing situation, knowing that he had only managed to make a very slight difference during his brief diversion. He was now even further behind schedule, and was hundreds of presents short.

Yet somehow, tonight, it just didnt seem to matter. As the sleigh took off again, hundreds of other loose presents tumbled through the air down to the streets below, as though somehow attached to childrens wishes.


Santa exhaustedly endeavoured to deliver presents to the millions of other children who had written to him, earnestly requesting their desired Christmas gifts. His magical powers were certainly being pushed to their limits on this trying Christmas Eve.


Early on Christmas Day, the team crossed the vast North American continent for the second time, and headed for home. But leaving behind the west coast of the USA, the Sleighdar began to act up again. By now, Elton the Elder-Elfs voice had vanished completely, and the team was way off course. The sleigh seemed to have a mind of its own.

Santa was confused.

Despite his magical powers, he was somehow unsuccessful in preventing so many calamities. For the first time in his lengthy successful career Santa was out of control.


Was he simply getting too old for this gig? Would the elves have to take over next year? Would they be able to do it on their own?

Eddie the Egotistical Elf, who had been annoyingly peering over the old mans shoulder for years, would unquestionably love to give it a go, but would that be good for Christmas?


There is no I in team, Santa always preached. Exhausted and deflated, Santa decided to land again, if only to find out where he was  no one seemed to have a clue. The sleigh set down on the roof of a large three-storey building. Through the windows the elves could see hundreds of sleeping children in primitive beds and cots. Multilingual Santa read the sign on the front-door, and figured out that this was an orphanage on the outskirts of a village in Romania. Santa deposited the remaining unwrapped presents just inside the doorway, as well as all the cake, mince pies and biscuits he had been left by countless kind children on his travels, but had not felt up to eating on his extended overnight journey.


When the bewildered Santa eventually arrived home into the welcoming embrace of Mrs Claus, he looked back on his calamitous twenty-four hours, and sighed, deeply. Barry the Bartending Elf prepared Santa a nice glass of hot port. Santa took off his big red coat and sank into the enormous armchair by the fire. As his coat fell to the ground, a letter dropped out. Santa picked it up, and read it aloud, in his deep resonant bass voice 

 Dear Santa,
I hope you, Mrs Claus and the elves are all well. I dont need presents this year thank you very much. I have enough toys thank you.
Please give my present to a child who needs it more than I do. Or, if you think they need to eat, please give them food instead. I just want to have fun with my family and friends this year.
Love from Megan, in Sligo.
PS. A White Christmas would be nice if possible.


Santa hadnt managed to answer every letters request, and yes, mistakes had been made in some of his deliveries. However, he had managed to answer Megans special letter perfectly - a letter he had kept aside as high priority, but had somehow forgotten in the Christmas Eve chaos. AND his magical powers were most definitely working, as the generous little Sligo girls wishes had been multiplied.


Snow fell fast on Sligo. The citys rooftops and streets turned whiter than white. Megan jumped out of bed, looked out the window and squealed with delight.

Back in Lapland, the 24-hour tinselitis bug had vanished.


Santa closed his tired eyes and imagined the grateful faces of the orphans as they came downstairs on Christmas morning to find their presents and goodies.

Santa smiled, and thought to himself - Hmm&&.not such a bad day after all.