by Ian Sifton, Age 17, Canada
Artwork by Katie King
I couldn’t believe the words that had just come out of Jimmy’s mouth.
“What do you mean you met Rudolph?”
He sat there at my desk and just smiled at me with his seven-year-old grin. The one he wore when he was ahead of the game, and I wasn’t.
“Like I told ya a bazillion times, Jamie. I was at the toyshop lookin’ through the glass at that brand new camera, when a voice from behind me says, ‘You look ready burst with Christmas cheer old sport.’ So I spun around and right in front of me was a reindeer. It was Rudolph.”
“How could you tell?”
“His nose, duh. It was bright as a cherry. You’d know it anywhere.”
I still couldn’t believe it. Here I was wrapping presents, when he bursts in and tells me he met the legend himself: Reese Rudolph Reindeer. I put the tape and paper down on my bed and leaned in eagerly. Nobody except Prime Minister Trudeau had ever met Santa, but a few very lucky people met his reindeer whenever they went out to fly and get up to mischief. People said that if you did meet one, they might tell you Christmas secrets. Or if you were unlucky, they might pull a trick on you.
“And? What happened?”
“So I’m standing there with my mouth open, too stunned to move. For a moment we just stared at each other. Then he chuckles and says, ‘Well don’t just stand there with your mouth hanging open like fish. I may be a celeber– celebrite–.’”
“Yeah that’s the word. ‘I may be a celebrity,’ he says, ‘but you can still talk to me old sport. You look like a nice young fellow, and based on the way you had your nose pressed to the glass, I reckon you want that shiny new camera for Christmas. Would this here reindeer extraordinaire be correct?’”
“Gosh, Jimmy, he must have gotten a peek at your letter to Santa.”
“That’s what I said!” Jimmy replied. “And he goes, ‘Well I just had to, old sport. Technically, I’m only supposed to attend to my flight duties, but I heard some elves talking about your letter and felt drawn to read it. I tell you old sport, I see a bit of myself in you.’”
At this point, Jimmy was bouncing in the chair. “Jamie, I never thought I’d be anything like Rudolph! He said that he got an intelligence that could rival that of Santa’s Chief of Staff! And I said he must know everything there is to know about Christmas. He chuckled and said to me, ‘Tell me old sport, have you been a good boy this year? No eating cookies when you’re not allowed?’ I said yes that I’ve been good and he replied, ‘Good just like the old man, Mr. Claus. He don’t eat cookies he’s not allowed to have.’”
I got off the bed and started hopping around. This was so COOL! Rudolph hadn’t played a trick on him, so that could only mean one thing.
“Jimmy, Jimmy, JIMMY, did he tell you any Christmas secrets?” I was full of glee.
Jimmy nodded excitedly, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, he did!”
DONG! DONG! DONG! The church clock rang. It was so loud the walls shook. Jimmy jumped on my bed and danced to the bells. His foot swung out and kicked a pair of new books I had been wrapping.
“Hey careful! Those are for cousins Ben and Lucy.”
Fortunately Brer Rabbit and Tom Sawyer showed no visible signs of damage.
“Sorry, Jamie. Really I am,” said Jimmy. “But listen, he told me a secret. A way for us to meet Santa and get more presents from him.”
I whipped my head to him, my annoyance gone.
“Whoa, whoa, this is…big! What’d he say?!”
“Well, we’re walking and talking down Main Street, and he stops and says to me, ‘Old sport, you remember that thing I talked to you about earlier. Well, I like you. And I’m gonna help you get that fancy new camera you want, help you and your brother get on Mr. Claus’ Nice list. But it’s a secret, you can’t even tell your brother. Only one of you is allowed to know it or else it won’t work.”
“Well, you gotta do it, Jimmy! You have to do it for the both of us! You remember what he told you to do right?”
“Yeah, yeah. Don’t worry. It’s simple to do. He told me I only needed three special ingredients.”
DONG! DONG! DONG!
Jimmy glanced at the clock beside my bed. “Actually, I better get started if I’m gonna be done in time.”
He got off the bed and ran down the hall towards the pantry.
“Hey!” I shouted after him. “Don’t tell me exactly, but what are you going to make?” Jimmy turned back and grinned, “A snack.”
* * *
That night I couldn’t sleep. I lay on my bed thinking of how much extra Christmas loot there would be in the morning. I could just picture it: the entire living room filled with beautifully coloured boxes as high as the tree, all wrapped with a gold bow; our stockings overflowing with candy and little ornaments to put on the tree; Jimmy trying out his brand new camera, capturing the scene, marking the historic day when he learned Santa’s secret.
There was a wumph from above. My brain tensed, but I could feel my eyes glazing over. When I opened them, morning had arrived.
I raced downstairs to have my mouth drop open. The living room was practically a replica of the dream I had envisioned. Jimmy appeared at my side. With both looked at each other and grinned, his eyes shining. Then we charged forward and tore into a tornado of paper and wonder.
This was so awesome! Whatever snack Jimmy made for Santa had worked. Next year we would have to double its size to get even more loot!
Jimmy waltzed over to me wearing a pirate hat and hauling his stocking over his shoulder. “What’s that one?” he asked, pointing at a present sitting right next to me.
I picked it up. The wrapping was the colour of roses and the bow was done in a double knot. I read the gift tag: To Celine, From Santa. Celine? Who was she? Something wasn’t right. I ripped away the paper to discover…a doll.
“BOYS!” called mom. “You’d better come here quick!”
We jogged into the kitchen to find mom gazing at the television with the news on.
Mom turned up the news, “’The United Nations has just acknowledge this morning reports that Santa Claus had been flying over Ottawa, in a drunken stupor, resulting in twelve missed houses. Blood tests confirm that he was over the legal blood-alcohol limit set by NASA in 1970. This being his third driving-under-the-influence charge is a violation of the contract Mr. Claus signed with North Pole Limited and has resulted in his immediate termination of employment.’”
“Honey,” called our dad, “where did the bottle of scotch go?”
Ian says, “I love writing because it gives me the chance to get my imagination out there. Ever since I was a kid I found it so fascinating to jump into a book and stay locked in it for hours. My goal as a writer is to create stories that are a joy for myself and readers, from the beginning to the end.”