It was Christmas Eve and Santa had come down with a heavy cold. He couldn’t believe it.
“I don’t believe it,” he said to himself. You see.
He picked up a passing elf and wiped his nose on him and then got back to packing the sleigh for his annual trip around the world.
As he loaded on the final present, his wife appeared in the doorway.
“Ho, ho, ho, Mrs. Claus,” he said, demonstrating his remarkable ability to remember names.
“Ho, ho, ho, dear,” his wife replied. “Have you seen the weather outside? It’s raining polar bears and penguins and you know that old sleigh doesn’t have a roof. And you seem to have come down with a very bad cold.”
“Ah, don’t worry, my love,” replied Santa, picking up a calculator for a good little boy in Castleknock called Brian. “It’ll take more than a few drops of rain to put Santa off!”
“I know, but would you not consider taking the mini-bus? Or maybe the Jeep? I just don’t think you should go out in the rain, dear.” And she ran off giggling back into the house.
Santa sighed and loaded up the last of the presents, which just happened to be a batch of Lionel Ritchie CDs for some very naughty boys in Porterstown.
“Rudolf!” he called. “Get your nose over here! We’re just about ready to start.”
“He’s in The Jolly Igloo,” remarked Prancer moodily.
“Since November 12th,” added Dancer.
“Why do you think his nose is so red?” asked Chancer.
“Really?” said Santa, somewhat shocked. “I always thought it was an evolutionary illuminatory appendage designed to light my way around the world on foggy Christmas Eves.”
“You flatter yourself,” said Comet. “Nope, he’s in there telling all the elves how much he really loves them and buying them all pints.”
Santa thought for a while. “Okay,” he said. “Plan B. We’ll just have to use the eight of you and forget Rudolf.”
“You mean, go back to the way things were before the Great Nasal One barged in and took all the limelight?” said Blitzen. “You want us to dig you out of a hole after you’ve kept us as bit-part actors all these years? Dream on, buddy. Pints, lads?”
And with a roar of high spirits, the eight reindeer trouped out to The Jolly Igloo.
“What would three gardeners do if they came across a patch of weeds?” asked Mrs. Claus, popping her head around the workshop door.
“Hoe, hoe, hoe,” answered Santa but he didn’t feel particularly jovial at that moment.
In the end, there was nothing for it but to hitch the sleigh up to the minibus. He had tried contacting the local employment agency but the answer-phone informed him that it was Christmas Eve and they were all in The Igloo.
“You’ll have to drive,” Santa told his wife. “I’m still on a provisional. If I’m caught, I’m really for it.”
“Of course, dear,” answered Mrs. Claus. “We can’t let all the boys and girls down, can we?”
Santa sprinkled the minibus with his magic powder and off they set to Norway and the Philippines and down to Australia and Venezuela and all across the world. Mrs. Claus turned out to be quite a good driver – “I should be,” she said, “considering all the endorsements I’ve got” – and managed to land on all the rooftops without careering over the gable wall. While Santa baled down the chimney, she’d check her SatNav and punch in the coordinates for the next good boy or girl on the list.
All was going well. They’d done every country in the world bar one and were just coming to the end of Ireland. There was only Dublin 15 left to do and the sun was starting to come up on Christmas Day, when all of a sudden nine reindeer landed on the roof they were currently delivering to.
“Santa!” yelled a particularly vocal reindeer as a soot-encrusted figure emerged from the top of the chimney.
“Ssssssshhhhhh!” whispered the other eight quadrupeds at the tops of their voices.
“I love you, Santa,” sobbed Rudolf, throwing two hooves around the portly gentleman’s neck.
“Shanta, we were...hic!..bang out of order,” said Donner, wobbling unsteadily on the rooftop. “And we’ve come to help.”
“Ah, lads, I’m very grateful, so I am, but sure we’ve only Dublin 15 left. Mrs. Claus and I will have it finished in a jiffy,” said Santa nervously.
“No, Shanta, we inshisht,” spluttered Rudolf, starting to unhook the sleigh from the minibus.
“Three cheers for Santa!” roared Vixen, hoisting a bottle of Paddy’s to the sky.
“Ssssssssshhhhhhhh!” shouted everyone.
“Watch out for the sleigh!” called Mrs. Claus but it was too late. Still laden with several hundred presents, the sleigh slid noiselessly down the roof and disappeared over the edge.
There was silence for what seemed like a minute but was in fact only sixty seconds and then eleven heads peered soberly down into the yard below.
There were presents everywhere, scattered far and wide, in hedges, in ponds, in flower beds. Most had become detached from their labels and had become unwrapped. A Tibetan terrier scurried down the road clutching an X Box.
A church bell sounded. Then another. The sun poked its nose above the horizon, sniffed and then went back down again for another five minutes.
“Come on!” yelled Santa. “The children will be waking up soon. We’ve got to get this last lot delivered!”
“But we don’t know who owns what!” wailed Dasher.
“Never mind,” said Cupid. “The important thing is that the children get some sort of present, so they know that Santa hasn’t forgotten about them.”
“Gosh yes!” agreed Santa. “Do you remember that time we forgot that little boy and Nat King Cole had a field day?”
And so they all set to work to gather up what presents they could find and tore around, delivering them at random. In some houses the children were already up and searching for their presents and they had to pretend to be a hat stand to prevent discovery.
It was touch and go but they did it! Every child got a present and the magic of Christmas still remained for all the girls and boys throughout the world. It was nearly noon by the time the party arrived back at the North Pole and, while Mrs. Claus cooked the turkey, Santa and the reindeer celebrated Christmas in The Jolly Igloo.
And that, dear children, is how you came to get a clockwork mouse from Santa this Christmas and not that WII Fit that you had been asking for. It was simply an unfortunate accident.
Nothing to do with the recession at all.