“Big night tonight, you know”
Mrs Christmas did know. She’d heard the same thing every year for more than a century, hoping that the sponsorship laid on by Coke might have calmed him down a bit but realising that it just made him a little more sure of himself.
As Mrs C finished the dishes she looked in on Santa with his feet up and a mince pie in his hand. He had crumbs down his suit and his hat was lying on the floor despite her constant reminders for him to put it at the bottom of the stairs. The sink gurgled as the water drained away and Mrs C sighed when she realised her husband had yet another plate. Her dishes weren’t yet complete.
“Little Oliver in Austria is on thin ice. Apparently he’ll make snowmen for the other children of the square and then smash them up again. If that isn’t treading the line between naughty and nice, I don’t know what is!”
Little Oliver came up every year. There were good children who did bad things and bad children who did good things, but Oliver was a conflict unto himself in the list. Mrs C was sick of hearing about him. She shrugged off his antics once more and drew the hoover from the cupboard.
“Must you do that now? I’m watching Celebrity Jungle Extravaganza. Might enter for it next year.”
It seemed the merry-go-round of phrases wasn’t yet complete. He would be leaving in an hour and that gave Mrs C twenty four hours of peace before the whole charade started for another year. She drew a breath and put the hoover back, contemplating replacing the broken skirting but realising the hammering would interrupt him further.
“Then, I have so much to do that I doubt I could fit in weeks in the jungle too. I have to go round the world you know!”
She knew. Oh, how she knew.
Finally the time had come. Mrs C kissed Santa on his chubby red cheek and bid him farewell, hoping for a safe return as the love had never waned but also crossing her fingers that he’d get himself a coffee this year and give her an extra fifteen minutes. It was the one time of the year that she didn’t have to clean up his socks or make him a sandwich and, as with every year, she was going to make the most of it. She waved the sleigh off and closed the door, flicking the kettle on and smiling to herself.
He was a busy man, there was no doubt about that. However, it was all in a night’s work for him.