Saturday, November 27, 2010
SHARING THE JOY GUEST POST: A SHORT STORY BY AUTHOR ROBERT PARRY
Short Story for The Christmas Spirit Event
by Robert Parry
It had been a bad day at the office for David – so many people not pulling their
weight. And then there had been that Holy Joe of a sales rep‘ in the coffee break who
was always going on about Jesus and the real meaning of Christmas. David could
have done without that today. And he had a headache.
The elevator took an age to come, but eventually opened up to reveal that his
only fellow occupant was going to be a Santa from the grotto in the department store
below. Encountering the big man in his bright scarlet suit and long white beard didn’t
help David’s mood a whole lot because it reminded him that he still hadn’t bought a
single Christmas present – not for anybody – and only a week to go!
He pressed the ground floor button and the doors closed.
‘Have you bought that lady-wife of yours her Christmas present yet?’ Santa
suddenly asked, as if reading his mind.
‘I beg your pardon!’ David responded, stunned for a moment at the other man’s
‘She deserves something special, y’know,’ the old fellow added with a twinkle in
his eye as he placed his sack of presents down in the corner of the elevator.
‘Yes ... that’s right. She does. But what’s that to you, if you don’t mind my
They seemed to be taking forever to reach the ground floor.
‘Oh, it’s just that I always like to see everyone fulfilled and happy at this time of
the year,’ Santa replied. ‘That’s my job, after all.’
‘Your job – what do you mean? Listen, I’ve had a hard day. Right now, the last
thing I need is some fake Santa trying to sell me something. Just forget it, OK?’
But the old fellow – for David could see now that he really was quite elderly and
frail - merely shook his head at this, and looked surprisingly sad. ‘Oh no, young man,’
he said, I’m afraid you’re mistaken. I’m not just some fake Santa, as you put it. I am
not trying to sell you anything, either. No, no. I really am Father Christmas. The real
David shook his head in despair and looked away. He had thought that things
couldn’t get much worse this afternoon, but apparently they were about to do just that.
The elevator was stuck - that was obvious now - and he was stuck too: with a madman
in a Santa outfit.
‘You don’t believe me, do you?’ the old fellow said, not angry, just sounding a
little disappointed as he gazed rather sadly into David’s eyes. ‘Don’t leave it too late
– that’s what I mean. There’s that sweet little Emily of yours, and young Sam, too.
Oh don’t look so surprised. I know the children’s names – of course I do! I know
everyone’s name. The real Santa doesn’t need to ask.’
David understood now. This had to be some kind of set-up – someone playing
an elaborate joke. He reached over the old fellows shoulder and pressed the elevator
buttons a few times, but nothing happened. The whole thing had drawn to a standstill.
‘Tell me, David,’ the old fellow began again. ‘You don’t mind if I call you
David, do you? Can you remember when you were small? What did you do round
about this time of the year. Didn’t you go visit Santa?’
‘My father took me to a grotto in a department store, if that’s what you mean,’
David replied, loosening his tie and feeling rather hot and uncomfortable. ‘But even
then I knew that the guy handing out the presents was a fake. There were dozens of
them walking about all over town. I found out real soon that Santa didn’t exist. I was
a smart kid.’
‘Oh yes ... very smart!’ the old fellow chuckled quietly, as if to himself. ‘Well, I
promise not to take it personally, don’t worry. I mean, it does hurt sometimes, when
people imply that I don’t exist. But one gets used to it. Anyway, listen, your Dad
took you to see Santa, you say - just like your grandfather probably took his son, your
father, to see one, too. Am I right?’
‘Sure ... so what?’
‘And your dear grandfather – is he still alive?’
David shook his head.
‘Oh, I’m sorry, David,’ the old fellow continued. ‘I seem to have been ungracious
enough to have outlived him. You see, I have been around for rather a long time –
and they’ve given me all sorts of different names, too, of course. I was named Saint
Nicholas as far back as the 4th century, you know. And then I was called Niklaus
in medieval Europe. I still go by the name of Sinterklaas in the Netherlands, and
Christkindl in Austria and Switzerland. And the dear English still insist on calling
me Father Christmas, bless them – but it’s all the same to me. Generations of folks
have celebrated my existence in one form or another – including your good father and
grandfather, of course. They have thought of me, dressed up as me, made paintings
and statues of me, prayed to me, put pictures of me on Christmas cards and bill
boards. They have hung up stockings on bed posts and written notes to me and sent
them to the north pole. They have all come and gone over the centuries, lived and
died, those dear people - but I’m still here. Even you will probably be thinking of me,
David. You will be putting on a Santa outfit on Christmas Eve and handing out the
presents to everyone at home. I have survived you all, and will continue to do so! I am
an idea, young man. And ideas ... why, they are eternal. And very real, of course, as a
consequence. Oh look, I think we’ve arrived!
And indeed, at just that moment the doors sprang open. Lots of people were
waiting outside in the foyer, and David and the man in the red suit had to squeeze
their way past to escape - with David hurrying to put as much distance between
himself and the other man as possible.
‘Oh by the way, the old fellow called out as he went on his way, his sack of
presents slung over his shoulder, ‘don’t be too hard on that Holy Joe of a sales rep’ in
the office, either. He might just have the right idea, too.’
Robert Parry is the author of Virgin and the Crab: Sketches, Fables and Mysteries from the early life of John Dee and Elizabeth Tudor
Connect with Robert at the following sites:
Blog: Endymion at Night