‘Really do I have to eat more pies?’
‘Yes you need to be fatter dear, remember it’s that time of the year again’.
My belly was big, but she was always right it wasn’t big enough and I had to be huge.
‘It is washed and ready to wear for the day?’
‘Dear everything is OK, I have also fed your kids!’
She referred to them as my children, I did love them: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen.
We couldn’t have our own, yet I was responsible for making so many other parents children happy. I could feel my eyes filling up but I didn’t want Jessica to know.
The fire was warming up, the room shone with a glow like a candle burning from the wood. My arms were resting over the laptop keyboard. I could hear Jessica working away in the kitchen doing dishes as I heard the door knocking and ushered him in. It was Bernard like clockwork ready to complain.
‘Kris do you REALIZE that the children are believing in you less in less every year?’ asked my Chef Elf. He was dressed in green and red, with his hat pointing up, shoes shining and gloves crisp and clean. I could always count on him being so blunt and honest.
But I knew he was right, there was so many parents dressing as me, I often found presents under trees before I had even got there. Or worse the pies eaten by father’s fallen asleep dressing up as me.
‘This child wants a Nintendo switch’ shaking his head ‘these children really ask for more expensive gifts Kris it’s getting crazier each year’ said Bernard in a high pitched voice. He put his Ipad away which had thousands of toys crossed out and plodded out of the house.
I had about 10,000 elves making these toys it was hard labor for them as the gifts got more and more complicated. I did agree with what he was saying, I reminisced over the simpler gifts of paper planes, wooden recorders and dolls but that was a long time ago. I had to recruit more elves as the demands were greater each year.
You have mail flashed my computer again, my coffee was getting tepid ‘Jessica can you get another pot on?’ I bellowed.
It was worse now, not only did I have emails, facebook but also a twitter account Santa Claus@officialsanta and I had tweets from kids that way requesting presents.
I had been doing this for over 1000 years but it seemed to get more complicated and everything was faster with emails rather than letter mail which used to take a while to get delivered in the past. I was now expected to work over 24 hours a day, checking emails, Twitter, and Facebook and the odd letter which I rarely received nowadays.
‘Here you go dear’ kissed Jessica on the cheek. ‘You look tired Kris’, ‘Lets watch some television?’ Jessica requested. She looked beautiful as always and was my personal secretary and kept me organised.
Television nowadays was all reality shows, or adverts about toys which the elves watched religiously laboring about to make them by hand. They made everything by craft and love for the work. They would use hand tools, and nails and made everything by studying it’s mechanics not magic as most people imagined elves using.
I would make sure we all went on a grand holiday after Christmas, this year I was planning to take them Florida Disneyland. I was sure that 10,000 little elves would not look suspicious to anyone in that place.
‘Thanks Jess, but I’d best reply to my emails and twitter first, I’ll grab another pie though’.
She sprinkled some magic on it which sparkled like gems, that’s how I stayed youthful and didn’t look old. Well it wasn’t fair that I had to grow a beard and have a huge belly every year. I wasn’t actually that bad looking once I shaved it off after the holidays had finished. I didn’t actually look they they way I was pictured as a fat man with a beard,
I was much younger and leaner once the holiday weight had gone. I thought that I wasn’t that bad looking actually.
My laptop twitter account was buzzing and I received a message as it bleeped:
‘Santa you are a big fat bAST*&^D’.
Delete I pressed. I was often trolled on twitter.
It was upsetting, I didn’t tell Jessica about it. I would get several messages during the day from people bullying or sending messages not believing it was really Santa they were abusing.
‘Here is your suit, it’s all ready and ironed’. It seemed to glow as it did every year, it was ironed and ready as Jessica had everything prepared for me before the big day. ‘I can’t wait to see the kids faces when they see you, some of them still believe in you’.
It was Jessica’ faith that kept me going. Too be honest I was really becoming unemployed due to parents filling my role and presents being brought in advance. The elves worked so hard crafting. I was even accused of slavery and exploitation by one child over twitter.
This really upset me as I cared for the elves and they did the job because the enjoyed it. I also knew that less and less children had faith in Santa they are more interested in Xbox or some other new form of technology rather than an old man like me.
As I sat at the burning fire, I petted Dancer on the nose, he was soft and tame, I was worried that Jessica might see that he had sneaked in to get warm. She didn’t want the reindeer in the house. Dancer was kind and loyal, all my children were, I remembered the day when I found out that we couldn’t have our own children.
‘I’m sorry Jessica and Kris’ said Dr Snow but I am afraid that the both of you are unable to have children. I felt a deep sharp pain hit my chest, my eyes were filling up, but I tried to keep strong for Jess, I felt that a piece of her died that day.
She helped every year with Christmas, after that year, but I knew she really wanted her own children. I could make millions of children happy but I was unable to make my wife’s dream of having a child become true.
‘That reindeer best not be inside Kris!’ shouted Jess from the kitchen. I ushered Dancer out back into the cold.
The snow was not as heavy as it used to be, the temperature was mild for December and my wood burner had not been turned on that much either. I could hear the clanging of nails and hammering by the Elves in their workshops. The lights shone from their workshops twinkling like stars in the sky shimmering. They were rows and rows of them, we were isolated here. But it was hard, as the ice now wasn’t that sturdy as it used to be, it was getting dangerous to live out in the North Pole.
I was often thinking of retiring more and more as the years went by, even more so this year. The political state of the world especially with Brexit made me sad but I would be still visiting all the children across the country. I had reindeer that could fly so I would not be restricted like the world would be in the next year or so.
I had been through many difficulties, both of the wars and had seen poverty and disaster within the world. But it was the children both Jessica and I loved and that I was still doing the job for.
However less and less they believed and had faith that I existed. In addition the children demanded more extravagant gifts and contacted me on twitter to abuse me or just badger me. They had no idea that the Elves had to work night and day to make these gifts.
I felt there was no joy over the work, no time simply to sit still or watch shows like there used to be on the Television like Morecombe and Wise Christmas Special.
I also wasn’t getting any younger as I was also over 1000 years old, and putting weight on every year didn’t get easier on my health. Dr Snow had already warned me over getting Diabetes or my blood pressure rising once September had gone as I would start worrying over Christmas. So I had taken up running as a hobby through the North Pole and found it funny when explorers would claim they had seen the Yeti sightings on the internet when it was just me wearing a large jacket full of fake fur doing my exercise.
I was starting to wonder as to whether there really was any point in me doing this anymore.
My laptop bleeped a message Santa I love you, you are the best Christopher Perkins @ChrisPerkins. These messages, which were rare would make me feel that it was worth the job that I did.
I did love children, they were all my children, as I cared for them deeply and I would be here for them as long as they believed in me.
‘Kris you’d best get some sleep now, it’s the nearing the BIG day’ said Jess. It wasn’t that long now, my eyes were worn and wrinkled from replying to all the emails and twitter feeds, I did everything myself including letters by mail.
‘Coming Jess’ I said. I walked slowly and waddled glad that I was putting on more weight, when I heard the door.
It was late and I wondered who would be knocking at our house this time of night. I opened the door expecting it to be Bernard complaining over some child, when it was Dr Snow.
‘Kris, ahhh, I have caught you…… can I come in?’ Dr Snow said apprehensively.
‘Yes of course Dr Snow what can I do for you’
‘Well….. Kris….I had a message come through from a young fairy girl who has had a baby and wants to give it up for adoption’.
I could feel my legs, they were weakening, like a tree I was sure that I would fall down by the news of the doctor.
‘Dr Snow… you can’t be serious….. ‘ I know you are Jess have waited a long time on the adoption register, but you are both special cases being who you are.
A baby I could not believe it, I had forgotten that we had both put our names down on the adoption register, it had taken this long for a baby to come for the both of us.
‘The fairy girl choose you two, because of the work that you both do, and because she recognizes the contribution you make and that you love children’.
I had to sit down, so I plonked myself on the chair, Jess would be ecstatic and over the moon, but could we look after a baby at our point in our lives.
‘Kris I know what you are thinking, you look after millions of children. It’s time for the both of you to have your dream come true. Also your health has improved and because of all the running you do and you are immortal remember. This child will be special for the both of you.
I wanted to cry, so I blabbered and the tears filled my beard and soaked into it, which made it fluff like cotton candy.
I couldn’t wait for tomorrow. Now I would be able to give Jessica a present.
A special gift that both of us had always wanted a baby for the both of us.
Tavinder Kaur New is primarily a short story writer, who lives in Dagenham Essex. One of her short stories ‘ If I had Known’ has been published in City Lit Adult Education Centre in London in their Between the Lines Magazine in 2010. She has been also chosen to read her poem ‘I Want’ in the Barking and Dagenham Folk Festival in 2015. She has attended many writing courses in City Lit Adult Centre and currently in Barking and Dagenham Adult College. She has a BA honours in English and Cultural Studies and also a Level 3 diploma in Counselling Studies. In addition she has a blog where all of her collection of poems and short stories have been published: http://tavindernew.blogspot.co.uk/.