Why Santa Shared His Soul
A Christmas Short Story
By William Hrdina
It was late Christmas Eve at the Maculrooney household.
All of the children were snuggled in their beds and sugarplums were dancing in their heads- as per their contract... all except for 7 year old Jeremy Maculrooney. Jeremy was wide awake.
He wanted to sleep, but all he could think about was whether or not Santa was going to bring him a hula-hoop for Christmas. He asked for no other toys. Just a hula-hoop. He'd seen a kid on Ed Sullivan who could hula 3 hoops simultaneously- and the toy just caught Jeremy's imagination- this was in September. Now, months later- the desire was like a burning in the boy's soul- it blocked out everything else- including sleep.
The year was 1958.
A good boy, Jeremy stayed in his bed even though he couldn't sleep. At least until he heard some kind of ruckus coming from downstairs. If it was any other night of the year, Jeremy would've stayed in bed. But it was Christmas. Noise downstairs could only mean one thing. Santa was making his yearly visit.
Employing every ounce of his sneakiness, Jeremy climbed down the stairs into the kitchen. Sure enough, he spied a light flickering in the living room. Jeremy tip-toed towards it, feeling more excited than he ever had in his life. He was even more excited than when he got to shake the Lone Ranger's hand at the Woolworths the previous July.
He walked into the living room expecting to see the large, jolly visage of Santa, all happy and full of the hundreds of thousands of portions of cookies and milk left out for him.
Santa was there. But he wasn't jolly.
Actually, he was barely able to stand.
"Santa?" Jeremy asked, the note of fear audible in his voice.
Santa's eyes weren't bright- they were sunken into his face- large black circles were visible under each eye- so large they caused the top of his beard to look grey instead of white.
"Oh crap." Santa said.
Then he stumbled, trying to collapse into a nearby chair. He missed it, and went crashing down onto the floor instead.
Jeremy resisted the urge to cry out for help. Somehow, he knew, deep down inside- Santa wouldn't want to be seen like this by anyone- let alone by a lot of people. Instead of yelling, Jeremy rushed across the room and knelt down next to Saint Nick.
"I'm wiped out kid- I think I'm going to need your help getting back to the sleigh. Do you think you could give me a hand?" Santa's voice was thin, reedy.
"Of course." Jeremy said, without even a second of hesitation.
He was just grateful Santa knew what to do. Two years before, Jeremy's grandfather collapsed in the same way- except in his grandfather's case- there was nothing he could do to help- and the old man died. The adults tried to explain to Jeremy it was a heart attack- that there was absolutely nothing Jeremy could've done to change what happened. But Jeremy was too young to really understand. The only thing he knew- was he couldn't do anything to help his grandpa- and now he was getting a chance to try again- to do better the second time.