Santa Encounters a Nonbeliever

Progressive Santa Does His Thing

 

Santa Claus had finally had enough. As the years advanced, much of the world became increasingly antagonistic towards him, as if he was some sort of religion. The general sentiment of “believe if that works for you” was championed throughout this yuletide season. He was cast aside—a relic of an archaic world which had outgrown him. So this year, he figured he’d meet the demands of this new society. Those who believed in jolly ol’ Saint Nick would find an expertly-wrapped package from their wish list under their trees. Those who did not would not merit a Christmas Eve visit.  No more Naughty or Nice lists. No more lumps of coal. This was the new Santa. These are his stories.

***

Santa Encounters a Nonbeliever

 

A trip to the grocery store would have been great. Going on vacation would have been preferable. But having sleigh trouble on Christmas Eve? Absolutely unacceptable.

Santa tried to land on the roof of an apartment complex in downtown Bridgewater, but as he landed, one of the sleigh’s runners caught briefly on the ice and was ripped violently off the sleigh. It flew through the air and crashed onto the sidewalk below, miraculously missing any nighttime pedestrians. Santa tried to activate the emergency brakes, but was a little too late. His carriage careened into the reindeer and fell right off the roof. The reindeer were appropriately stunned, but managed to recover in time to fly high enough that the sleigh did not plummet Santa to his death. They allowed it to gently land in the alleyway below.

Santa clambered out of his seat and cursed under his breath. This would cost way too much time to repair, and he was already under a time crunch.

“You alright, boss?” Blitzen asked? The other reindeer looked similarly concerned.

“I’m fine, guys. I hope you aren’t too hurt by the sleigh ramming into you.”

“Oh, we’ll be okay. But how are we going to finish delivering these presents?”

Suddenly, a man turned into the alleyway, carrying the sleigh’s golden runner. “Hey, man. Are you okay?”

Santa looked at the man and instantly recognized him. It was Tom Barrow! He was a delightful kid who had never once found himself on the naughty list. His adult face had not changed much from youth. But Santa realized he did not see Tom’s name on his list. Tom had stopped believing in Santa Claus. He cleared his throat and responded, “Yes, thank you. And thank you for returning my sleigh’s runner! I don’t suppose you have the time to help me reattach it?”

Tom laid the heavy runner on the ground. “Yeah, that’s no problem. Actually, my truck is parked around the corner. I’ll grab my toolbox from it and be back in a few minutes.” He looked at the reindeer team curiously for a moment or two before heading off.

He returned shortly afterward and extended a friendly handshake. “Tom Barrow. And you are?”

“Nick Claus. But most people call me Santa.”

Apparently, Tom had not put two and two together. “It’s probably the beard.” He knelt down and began inspecting the underside of the sleigh.

Santa was taken aback. Did Tom still not believe? There was a large man with reindeer and a sleigh who went by Santa Claus, out and about on Christmas Eve… And he still did not believe? He looked at the man, incredulous. “So… Do you live around here?”

“Oh, sure,” came the reply Tom had already begun repairing the damages. “Been in Bridgewater for about five years now. How about you? Are you from here?”

Santa scratched his head. “No, son. I’m from the North Pole.”

Tom turned his head. “You’re… from the North Pole.”

“Yes I am.” Santa paused before adding what he thought was already obvious. “I am Santa Claus.”

Tom chuckled. “Still a little kid at heart, eh? I respect that.” He turned back to the sleigh. “I played Santa Claus in a play once. I wasn’t very good, though. My beard kept falling off.”

Santa was frustrated. “No, I really am Santa Claus!”

“That’s great, bud. Hey, do you think you can lift this side of the sleigh, so I can line the runner up?”

Santa obliged, but was very unhappy. How could one still not believe in this situation? “So… Why did you stop believing in Santa?”

Tom chuckled. “I grew up! I mean, geez… You can’t tell me you actually still believe in him, right? Your parents didn’t have that conversation with you, or you didn’t find the receipt for something Santa supposedly got you?” He finished tightening a screw. “You can lower that sleigh, if you want.”

“I am Santa! I can’t stop believing in me!”

Tom stood up. “Okay then. How do you get into houses without chimneys? Or how do you go to every house in the world in just one night? Or how do your reindeer fly? Why haven’t you gotten a heart attack from eating a billion cookies on Christmas Eve? Can you answer these questions, buddy?” He waved his wrench in the air as he spoke, giving an odd, threatening look to the young face.

“I can answer some of them. But I won’t. There are some things that are better left unsaid. Besides,” he said, as he climbed back into the sleigh, “if there were overwhelming evidence for my Christmas travels, then everyone would believe in me, and it wouldn’t really be a choice. But the way it is now, people believe because they want to believe.”

Tom didn’t have an answer for that.

“Thank you for helping with my sleigh. I hope to repay you one day.” Then, grabbing the reins, he gave them a crack and shouted, “Hyah!” The reindeer team rose and gave flight to the sleigh.

Tom Barrow watched as the curious fat man flew out of sight. Then he picked up his toolbox and walked back to his truck.

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