Beachwood High School
Instructor: Nicole Butterfield
Caroline was curled up on the couch, sipping a cup of hot chocolate. What a peaceful night, she thought to herself. All of a sudden, she froze. Wait a second. Why is it so quiet on the night before Christmas? I usually have to force Avery into bed at this time. Carol bolted up the stairs, expecting to see her newly painted wall covered with drawings of Santa and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. However as she opened Avery's bedroom door, she heard sniffles. Her daughter suddenly turned around.
"SANTA!" She rejoiced, "YOU FINALLY CAME!" Caroline watched her daughter's smile turn into a dejected look of failure. She could've sworn she heard the sounds of Avery's heart smashing into pieces. She tensed up as her daughter whimpered,
"Why didn't Santa come today?"
Caroline's shoulders relaxed. " Today's Christmas Eve, sweetie. Not Christmas Day. Santa will be coming tonight," she smiled.
Avery looked at her mother as if she had said the sky was purple, "No, it isn't. It's Christmas! And Santa didn't give me any presents. I didn't even get coal! Was I a bad girl?" Her mother's eyes glassed over as she tried to rack her brain for an excuse.
"Maybe he switched up the days like me!" she said, hoping Avery would believe her lie. Avery shook her head.
"Marley got her present already! So did Brian, Jessie and Sam! And Sam's been picking on me all year!" Her mother raised an eyebrow. Who was this Sam guy that was picking on her daugh-.
Focus Carol, focus, she berated herself. "Uhh... maybe one of Santa's elves... is on break, and...uh slowed down the production of making toys! Yeah, that's what happened," she said, silently congratulating herself for the great lie. However once again Avery shook her head.
"When Ms. O was teaching us about slavery she said Santa's elves were kind of like slaves cause they got no breaks." Carol gave her daughter an odd expression.
Who the heck teaches a first-grader about slavery?! She cleared her throat for a second, and thought of a quick way out of the situation. The first idea… her husband. "Avery, wait here, Mommy's going to talk to daddy for a little bit, okay?" Even before she heard her daughter say okay, she was out the door and went to grab…
"CHARLES! WE GOT A PROBLEM!" she exclaimed.
Charles bolted right up from his deep slumber. "WHAT! IS THE HOUSE ON FIRE? DID AVERY GET KIDNAPPED? DID MY SNOWMAN TOPPLE OVER?"
Caroline's heart rate slowed down, "None of the above. Avery thinks that Santa hates her and didn't get her a gift."
Charles gave her an incredulous look, "Weren't you on Santa duty? Also isn't Santa not r-"
"I mixed up the days! You gotta wear the costume now!"
"NO, you don't mean—"
"Oh, yes I do."
"But this is your fault!"
"But SANTA'S MALE!" Caroline scrambled through their closet but didn't find the Santa costume that they had bought for Halloween. After Charles wore it out trick or treating, they had found their house covered in toilet paper and egged. She scrambled under the bed, found it and shoved it at Charles. "Wear! Now!" She growled. Charles sighed as he began to put on the Santa outfit. After he was done, Caroline threw Avery's gift, a hot pink Easy Bake Oven, at him. Charles fumbled the large box, opened his bedroom door, and trudged down the dark hall.
"Hey, swee- I mean Avery!" Charles said, stumbling through his words.
Avery flipped her head. "SANTA," she exclaimed, "YOU CAME!"
"Of course I did," Charles chuckled, handing her the present.
Avery frowned, " You sound a lot like my daddy." Charles tensed up.
"I, uhh— do?"
"Yeah, you look a lot like him, too! Aren't you supposed to be fat?"
"Uhh… Mrs. Claus made me go on a diet! She said I was a little on the plus side."
"Ooh, wait! Can I go see Rudolph! Can I pet him!"
"Um, uh well, as you can see Avery I'm falling a little behind schedule, I have to go now! You wouldn't want me to disappoint the other kids, would you?"
"Well, I ought to be going now! Merry Christmas, Avery!"
Before he could get out of the room though, Avery had already started ripping open her gift. "Oh, wow! I got an Easy Bake Oven!" She turned toward Charles, "You wanna play with me?" Charles knew the prime objective was to get out of the room; however, he had this sudden urge to play.
It wouldn't hurt would it? In his heart he knew that he had to carry on his mission. So he decided to… not go with his gut feeling and play anyway. Although Charles didn't know it at the time, Avery was having the best time ever playing with "Santa". Finally, just as they finished making their first cupcake, Charles came up with an excuse to get out of the room. "Avery, I can't eat these cupcakes because I'm on a diet. You wouldn't mind showing Santa out, would you?" He grinned.
Avery bounced up from the floor, ran to the door and opened it. She was still in a partial daze, still shocked that she and Santa had played together. Just as Charles was about to walk out of her room, Avery suddenly shut the door in his face.
"Wait, I'm not supposed to see you." Avery whined," Will I not get my presents next year?"
Charles froze. This wasn't part of the plan. So he did the first thing he could think of. Talk.
"Well uhh— my reindeer crashed into a tree. Since you were the closest person on my, uhhh— list, and I couldn't go anywhere, I decided to, uhh— come visit.
"Wait, so can I see them?!"
"The reindeer. They crashed into a tree, I wanna make sure they're okay and also pet them."
"NO— I—uh— mean, well, since you already saw me today, it would, uhh— be a little unfair if I, um—let you pet my reindeer."
"Oh. okay." She smiled, still happy that she got to meet the real Santa, and not just the fake one at the mall. She opened the door and as Charles walked down the dark hallway, he looked behind to see Avery's door now closed and sighed. It had been one heck of a night for all of them. He entered his bedroom and was met with a barrage of questions.
"Did it work? Did you hand her the gift? Did she suspect anything? Did you eat the cookies?"
"Yes, yes, yes and no, but it's okay since I told her that Santa went on a diet."
"Just be happy that it wor-" He felt a shiver down his spine and looked at the once closed window. In flew a piece of paper. Charles and Caroline looked at each other and then walked towards the window. Charles picked up the note, and read it to himself.
"What does it say?!" Caroline exclaimed.
"Look for yourself." Charles smiled. She grabbed the note from Charles's hand and read aloud,
"Thank you."— S. Claus