Progressive Santa Does His Thing
Santa Claus had finally had enough. As the years advanced, much of the world became increasingly antagonistic towards him, as if he was some sort of religion. The general sentiment of “believe if that works for you” was championed throughout this yuletide season. He was cast aside—a relic of an archaic world which had outgrown him. So this year, he figured he’d meet the demands of this new society. Those who believed in jolly ol’ Saint Nick would find an expertly-wrapped package from their wish list under their trees. Those who did not would not merit a Christmas Eve visit. No more Naughty or Nice lists. No more lumps of coal. This was the new Santa. These are his stories.
Santa Visits the Cat Lady
There was a big discussion at the North Pole on what the new rules were to be. Originally, Santa only gave gifts to children, with the occasional exception for the most deserving adults. But now that he only visited those that believed in him, did that include those that were older? No doubt, belief often left with age, but a few did remain. After much debate, a consensus was unanimously reached by the board of directors that age was no longer a qualifier. Any believer would get a present.
This presented a new problem that Santa had not foreseen, though, which caused another round of meetings among the North Pole higher-ups. Does Santa visit animals? Obviously, most of the world’s animals (with the exception of reindeer, polar bears, and some species of rabbits) could not believe or disbelieve in Santa. But many children across the world believed that Santa would get their pets something. Before the new rules were instated, Santa tried to leave a bone or a new birdbath for the good pets of the world, though with budgetary restrictions and whatnot, he often couldn’t. But the board decided that these new progressive rules meant that believers who thought their pets received gifts would get their beliefs fulfilled.
So on Christmas Eve, Santa found himself landing on the roof of a house he had not ever visited before, to give a gift to a lady he had not seen for years. It was a sad thing to be sure, adulthood. But Santa was excited to be able to see some people who had not forgotten him. He remembered little Suzie Flanahan. She wanted a cat for years, but he could never give her one. Firstly, her parents did not want her to have one, and as a general rule, he tried not to cross parents. But secondly, transporting live animals by sleigh was always tricky and there was too much paperwork involved. But he became excited at the thought of seeing how little Suzie had grown up. He exited the sleigh and started pulling his sack out of the back seat.
Blitzen looked back at him suddenly with tears in his eyes. “Hey boss?”
Santa was startled to see all of his reindeer beginning to well up. “What’s wrong guys?”
“Nothing, boss. I think it’s just allergies or something. You mind if we land over there on that house,” he gestured with his head, “while you visit here?”
Confused, Santa shrugged. “I guess so. I’ll try to make it quick then.” He watched the sleigh pull away from him and land next door, wondering what was going on. But he didn’t have time to dwell on irregularities, so he slung his sack over his shoulder and walked over to the chimney. An uneasy feeling grew in his stomach as he swung his legs over the brick border. Sliding down, he felt a pungent smell crawl its way up his nostrils and smack him around on the inside of his head several times over. He landed at the bottom of the chimney with little grace as his eyes began to water and sting. Rubbing them furiously, Santa looked out into the living room.
Seventeen pairs of yellow eyes peered at him through the gloom.
Santa swallowed. “Uhh…”
Immediately, the cats scattered in all directions with lightning speed. He understood what happened to his sleigh team earlier. Reindeer noses were much more sensitive, and most of the reindeer at the North Pole were allergic to cats. It was an interesting problem. This had never happened before. But, Santa reasoned to himself, the night was bound to be full of surprises.
He climbed out of the chimney and tried not to think of where he stepped as he let his eyes adjust to the darkness. The Christmas tree was on the other side of the room behind a couch where little Suzie Flanahan slept underneath a knitted quilt, though, “little” was no longer an acceptable descriptor for Suzie. The years had not been kind to her poor frame. One black cat slept by her feet at the end of the couch, but most of the others seemed to be awake, peering out at the festive intruder with curiosity.
With the rush for the new rules, Santa did not know ahead of time (this year) everything he was delivering to each house. He opened his sack and gazed in, finding twenty-eight identically-wrapped packages. He could only assume there was something special for the myriad felines in the house, but rather than Christmas joy, Santa only felt disgust. He crossed to the other side of the room and emptied the contents of his sack with no amount of ceremony. The noise made most of the surrounding eyes retreat for safety, but one cat’s curiosity got the best of him and he came closer to investigate the presents.
Santa looked in and wondered if there was anything for Suzie herself. It seemed that all the presents were for her pets. Did she no longer believe she would get a present? Did she think her pets were the only “good” ones this year? He made a mental note to check Suzie’s files when he got back home.
He looked around the house to see if any cookies had been left for him, but then decided he probably wouldn’t want anything that was left out in the open. Santa walked over to where Suzie was. He remembered her face. She was always a good girl and almost always obeyed her parents. His helpers in the mall always noted she was a delight—she always asked for a cat, and they’d respond that they’d see what they can do. It seemed that whenever she moved out of the house, she took matters into her own hands. Santa stood there wondering what had happened to her over the years. She seemed to be alone in the house. There were no other names attached to his travel list for this address. She’d gained weight. The house she lived in was not of a high quality, and it reeked. He wished he could feel more pity for her, but the cat urine sting in his eyes had become unbearable.
The sound of a cat purring suddenly took his attention towards the tree. Twenty-eight cats had invaded the space underneath the branches, apparently smelling the catnip treats Santa had brought. Another cat purred, followed by another—and another. A split-second later, all twenty-eight beasts were purring as loud as possible, like some demented feline jet engine. Santa rushed toward the chimney to leave before they woke Suzie up. As he turned around, he saw hairs bristling as they tore into their gifts with no degree of stealth. He was sure Suzie must have caught at least a glimpse of his boots as rose up the brick shaft.
Upon seeing his bright red hat, the sleigh team returned to the roof. Dasher looked at Santa. “How many were there?”
“Judging by the number of presents, there were twenty-eight.”
Dasher’s eyes widened. “My God…”
Santa looked at his reindeer. “Do you guys think the new rules are right? Aren’t we just pandering to the crowd that says, ‘Santa works for you, dear’?”
The reindeer, though usually in a cheery mood were impatient to leave. “You want to get all philosophical on us, wait until we get to Arizona or something. These allergies are killer.”
Santa clambered into his seat and nodded. It was too late for second-guesses. This is what society seemed to want. It was the ultimate Christmas present.
“Hyah!” He gave a crack of his reins, and the sleigh team pulled off.