The Night he Tripped up Santa, short story by D X Lewis at
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The Night he Tripped up Santa

The Night he Tripped up Santa

written by: D X Lewis


Peter was difficult. His parents agreed on that, if nothing else.

Not only did he express doubts about God in Sunday School, which embarrassed his father. Now he was questioning the existence of Santa. This threatened his mother’s plans for the “best Christmas ever” during a visit from America of her brother, sister-in-law, and young niece.

“You know Father Christmas doesn’t come to children who don’t believe in him, don’t you?” his mother said.

“Pfff!”, he replied, accusing her of blackmail. (And he was only seven.) “Do you think I’m stupid?”

“Well, at least don’t say anything to Amy.”

Peter said he believed in truth, and his five-year-old cousin should learn it as early as possible. There was no way a fat man with a sack could come down their chimney — especially since they’d installed the new coal stove. Even Amy would understand that.

“We’ll leave the back door open instead,” his mother said. “And I’ll leave the mince pie and sherry in the kitchen. You know he liked those last year.”

“I bet you ate the mince pie and Dad drank the sherry,” Peter said.

His mother ignored that and continued making festive biscuits.

Two days before Christmas, Uncle Derek, Aunty Mary, and Cousin Amy arrived from New York.

“My, you’ve grown!” Aunty Mary said.

“Of course, I’ve grown,” said Peter. “Did you think I’d shrink?”

“Shh,” said his mother. “Be nice.”

Amy couldn’t read, she couldn’t catch balls, she couldn’t even play Snakes and Ladders. In short, she was stupid. Peter wished they’d all go back to America. He wouldn’t have to be polite, he could watch whatever he liked on telly, and he’d get his own bedroom back. He didn’t like sleeping in the box-room.

On Christmas Eve his mother gave Amy and Peter a nylon stocking each to lay at the end of their beds. Peter glared at her. His mother glared back and put a finger to her lips.

Peter decided to give everyone a lesson. He tied the cord of his dressing gown across the doorway of the box-room and went to sleep proud of his brilliance.

Two hours later, someone with heavy steps climbed the stairs to swap the empty stockings with identical ones stuffed with sweets, tangerines, crackers and, for Peter, a simple version of A Christmas Carol.

Opening Peter’s door without turning on the light, that someone tripped over the cord, fell on his face, and emitted a volley of profanities that can’t be repeated in a Christmas story.

Peter decided it would be wise to pretend he was still asleep. But he half-opened his eyes and saw through the gloom that the person on the floor was not wearing a red suit or sporting a white beard. It also wasn’t his father, because his father didn’t swear. From the voice and vocabulary, Peter recognised Uncle Derek. Ha! Gotcha!

Peter smirked into his pillow with the success of his plot. He could tell Amy that Father Christmas was really her Dad. (Though he did feel a tinge of disappointment; it would be nice to believe in Father Christmas and the tooth fairy. Even God.)

Very early on Christmas morning, Amy trotted into Peter’s box-room suggesting they open their stockings together. Her Mummy and Daddy wanted to sleep a bit longer. She jumped into Peter’s bed and gave him a Christmas kiss.

Peter winced, but groped for what he thought would be at the end of his bed. Nothing.

“Perhaps Father Christmas decided I’m too big,” Peter said, feeling sorry for himself.

“Oh poor you,” said Amy. “You can share mine.”

Perhaps Amy wasn’t so bad after all.

And perhaps Mummy and Daddy and Uncle Derek would forgive him and put his stocking under the Christmas tree with the other presents.

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