A Very Covid Christmas – Chapter 1

There’s a first for everything. Even though this is quite scary for me, I wanted to share this story I wrote. A little present from me to you on this very strange Boxing Day: a Christmas carol that I hope can help you find some joy during these extraordinary holidays. You’ll find chapters 2 and 3 on the ‘Short stories’ page. Enjoy!

The snowy carpet of the North Pole sparkled in the moonlight as Santa Claus prepared his sleigh. With his list in hand, he was checking every gift in the back. “A teddy bear for Charlie, a Lego set for Grace and finally, a bicycle for Timothy. Oh boy, that will be quite a challenge, won’t it, Vixen?” The reindeer were already lined up in front of the beautiful red sleigh. Their harness was decorated with twinkly lights that masqueraded as stars when they had to fly over towns and villages. Vixen turned around and grunted. “What do you mean, the bicycle won’t be the problem?” Santa asked. Dasher and Prancer looked at each other, giddy as fawns. Vixen inspected Santa from head to toe and back again. He hesitated for a second until he grunted ever so cautiously. “What do you mean, I’ve gained weight? I’ve always looked like this! How else am I supposed to shake my belly like a bowl full of jelly? I still fit through chimneys, you’ll see!”

Dasher and Prancer burst into a fit of hee-haws, their laughs echoing over the vast landscape. Santa, who was not amused by his sassy reindeer, marched to the front of the sleigh. Every step he took was followed by the crackling noise of snow getting crushed under his big black boots. When he got to the side, he lifted himself off the little step and into the sleigh. However, halfway through, he got stuck because his belly couldn’t fit through the small opening. Vixen looked back and grunted. “Shut up, Vixen,” Santa murmured.

With a little wiggling and a lot of grumbling, Santa managed to take his seat. With the reins in his hand, he was ready to leave, when he suddenly heard a voice. “Wait! Waaaait!” He looked around and saw Mrs. Claus running from the house to the sleigh. She was waving something in her hand but he couldn’t immediately figure out what it was. When she was almost at the sleigh, he realised what it was. “No, no, no,” he shook his head. “I am not wearing that. We’ve been over this, dear.” Mrs. Claus arrived at the sleigh and put the face mask in his lap. “You have to wear this, you know you do.” Santa started to pout. “But I look ridiculous! My beard doesn’t even fit into it. Look, look!” He tried to put the face mask on but when he pulled it over his nose, it slipped over his beard and uncovered his mouth. When he tried to tuck his beard in, his nose didn’t fit into it anymore. Seeing Santa struggle with the face mask made Dasher and Prancer snigger. “Really, Dasher, Prancer? You know what, if I hear one more peep out of you tonight, there will be no Home Alone when we get back.” The two reindeer immediately stopped at this threat. Santa knew them all too well. On Christmas Day, after they’d delivered all the gifts to all the children around the world, he rewarded his reindeer with Home Alone, their favourite movie. Although Santa had been afraid the pranks might inspire the more rascally reindeer, like Dasher and Prancer, to play a trick on him, he hadn’t woken up to a scorched beard yet.

Mrs. Claus gently patted Santa’s knee. “You are not getting out of this, sweetheart. They’re mandatory in practically every country right now. Especially when you’re in peoples’ homes.” Santa knew Mrs. Claus was right. He had realised she was always right pretty early in their marriage. But if he didn’t put up a fight, she might come to realise that too. And then, well, who knows what the consequences might be. So, Santa put on his sulkiest face: “But I don’t see anybody when I’m inside so what’s the point? Plus, it makes my glasses foggy. That’s just dangerous when I’m driving the sleigh.” Mrs. Claus patted his knee again: “Sweetheart, I think we both know you don’t need foggy glasses to be a bad driver.” Santa couldn’t help but laugh at his wonderful wife and her ribbing comments. He took the face mask and put it in his pocket. “I’ll try but I’m not making any promises,” he said. “Thank you, dear. Now, off you go, lots of work to do! I’ll see you tomorrow morning.” Mrs. Claus climbed the sleigh and gave him a peck on the cheek. After all those years, it still made his cheeks every bit as red as his nose. Mrs. Claus took a few steps back and watched Santa as he took the reins in his hands again. Before he left, he turned to her and asked: “My dear, do you think I gained weight?” Mrs. Claus locked eyes with Vixen for a split second, looked at Santa and smiled: “You have a good night now, sweetheart.”

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