Leaving the snowy North Pole behind him, Santa embarked on his journey through the night sky. Usually, he enjoyed the ride but this year was different. Just like everything this year had been different. His ears weren’t amused by the echoing of falala’s and his nose wasn’t tickled by the full warm scent of hot chocolate. There were no people in the streets, no busy towns with lights as far as the eye could see. This isn’t right, Santa thought to himself.
The past year hadn’t been easy on him either. Due to lockdown, he had to send all his elves home in March. As a result, Santa and Mrs. Claus had to make all the toys themselves. They spent days, weeks, months in the workshop, often staying up all night, to make sure every child got a toy this Christmas. It had been a strange sight: the two of them, all alone in the workshop. In normal circumstances, there would be hustle and bustle all over the shop, with a troop of elves managing every station. After Santa read the letters, he assembled a list of all the gifts that had to be made. That list went to the Planning Elves, who made a schedule and kept track of every gift, from its making to its wrapping. The Handy Elves designed and forged every gift. They put the ideas to paper and then worked tirelessly to create the most beautiful toys. From wooden merry-go-rounds with a little light inside to put on your bedside table to life-size racing cars for children. When the gift was finished, it went to the Wrapping Elves. They sought out the wrapping paper that best fit the gift and tied lush bows of velvet, satin or silk.
Santa’s all-time favourite gift had been a snow globe, made by the elves a few years ago. It had a burgundy standard that showed Clara, the Nutcracker Prince and the Mouse King on a stage, the curtains drawn aside. In the globe itself, the Nutcracker Prince and Clara danced in front of a beautiful Christmas tree, decorated with golden and red ornaments. If you turned it upside down, tiny snowflakes twirled down on them. If you wound it up, the music box inside started playing the ‘March of the Toy Soldiers’. The elves had truly outdone themselves with that snow globe. Santa lived for magical moments like that, when he knew the elves had created something truly extraordinary that would make Christmas even more special.
He hadn’t had that feeling this year. This was the first year in a very long time that he lost his confidence. When he had heard Christmas got cancelled in lots of countries, he had almost spilled hot chocolate all over his desk. “It’s an outrage!” he had cried, his thundering voice booming all through the house. His roar gave Mrs. Claus quite a scare. She had rushed to his office, worried sick. “What happened?! Are you okay?” Santa had stomped his fist on his desk. “They’re cancelling Christmas! It’s Easter all over again! Remember? The Easter Bunny warned us this would happen!” Mrs. Claus had sat Santa down in his chair and soothingly stroked his hair. “Now now, calm down. Christmas isn’t cancelled, trust me. It will happen, even in a year as crazy as this. So finish your hot chocolate and come with me. We still have more than enough work to finish all those toys in time.”
Christmas isn’t cancelled. Mrs. Claus words flew through Santa’s mind as he flew over London. She seemed so sure, he thought. But here we are, Christmas Eve and not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse. How will these gifts make Christmas special if there isn’t even a Christmas to begin with? Santa sighed deeply as he parked his sleigh on the first rooftop. First on the list was the last gift he had packed: a bicycle for Timothy Parker.