"T'was the night before Christmas and ..."
"Henry, what are you doing?" Diego called as she rushed into Winifred's room, seeing Henry sitting next to the bed reading to Winifred, who was dozing off, her head gently leaning against her little pillow.
A small lamp on the night table next to Winifred's bed softly lit the room. Toys scattered on the dresser near the bed produced shadows that gave the giants and fairies and soldiers beneath them an eerie mask.
Henry continued, "Not a creature was stirring not even a ..."
"HENRY, why are you reading that dribble to my daughter!" Diego cried, about to tug the small book from Henry's hand.
Henry pulled the book out of Diego's reach and said, "Please, Diego, it's a Christmas tradition, it won't hurt her. She knows there's no Santa Claus anyway."
That's when Winifred raised her little hands, sighed and said, "Daddy is right, Mom, I know there really is no Santa Claus."
Diego slowly turned toward Winifred and said, "Are you sure?"
"I am positive, Mother."
* * *
Several moments later, Andre charged into the kitchen. Shakespeare, who was putting the finishing touches on his last dessert of the day, put his spoon down and said, "So why are you running into the kitchen like a headless bull?"
Andre, out of breath, pumped out, "Because I just overheard the most horrible and tragic thing while standing outside of Winifred's door."
"So you were spying on them?"
Andre scrunched his nose and said, "No, of course not, I was up there planning on leaving a present for Winifred under their tree when I heard the following."
Shakespeare snapped, "Uh huh."
"No, listen! Henry was reading T'was The Night Before Christmas to Winifred when Diego came charging past me, so fast she didn't even see me, and then she told Henry not to read such nonsense to her child, and you know what Winifred says then?"
"Can I have a car?"
"No, you leetle toad! It was tragic -- she said she knew that there really was no Santa Claus! CAN YOU IMAGINE our Winifred robbed of her childhood by a cynical mother and a harsh unimaginative world? It is just so sad, sad beyond words that she won't have the magic of Santa Claus!" Andre began to shake and he sat down at the table next to the stove.
Shakespeare scurried over to the table and said, "But there is no Santa Claus."
Then suddenly a strange glare infused Andre's eyes and he said, "Oh yeah, we shall see."
* * *
The following night, Christmas Eve, when Winifred was in her bed getting ready for sleep, yearning for the morning to come, to open her presents, and eat a turkey, she became restless and began to fidget with her hair. She glanced at the window, at the falling snow over Delancey Street, and she sighed and thought how incredible it would be if there really was a Santa Claus even if it was quite impossible according to the laws of physics and time and space. Reindeer do not fly, and even if they did, a man could not circle the earth in a sled driven by flying reindeer in just one night, and he certainly couldn't carry all those toys in one bag, or even in one sled!
Lost in her thoughts, she began to drift off to sleep when she heard a thump near her door.
Suddenly, she saw a fat bearded man carrying a large bag dressed in red wearing a chef's hat enter her room. The man was clearly nervous which caused his belly to shake making small packages fall from his bag.
Winifred jumped up in her bed and said, "Andre, why are you dressed up as Santa Claus?"
Then Andre, undeterred, cried, "Don't be ridiculous little girl, as you can plainly see I am not this Andre person you are talking about, I am the one and only Santa Claus!"
"Duh, well I didn't know Santa Claus wore a chef's hat."
Andre, clearly embarrassed, slapped his head, while is face turned red.
He was about to stutter some explanation out when Diego came bursting into the room crying, "ANDRE! What are you doing? Get that NONSENSE away from my daughter!"
Andre stomped his foot on the floor and yelled, "EVERY CHILD NEEDS SANTA CLAUS!"
"But you're not Santa Claus, you're a NUT IN A CHEF'S HAT!"
"THAT IS THE LAST STRAW!" Andre cried as he threw his hat to the floor and stomped on it. "Are you happy now? I am no longer wearing a chef's hat," Andre said while he walked toward the door.
"Wait!" Diego cried, waving her hands, stepping toward Andre, "What about all the packages you dropped?"
Andre bowed his head and quietly said, his face turning redder, "Those are just props," and he slammed the door behind him.
While he was making his way down the stairs on his way back to the kitchen the real Santa Claus was making his way up the stairs in such a jolly rush he didn't notice Andre, and with one swing of his bag, Santa Claus knocked Andre down the steps, causing him to suffer a slight concussion.
* * *
Later that evening while waiting in the emergency room, Andre shook his head and said, "Fucking Santa Claus," and he sighed.
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