Bob plopped down in his armchair, as usual. He switched on the television, as usual. A hot T.V. dinner sat on the table beside him, as usual. But besides all those usual things, there was something unusual about that day. It was Christmas Eve. And, because unusual things come in pairs, something unusual was about to happen. You could say a Christmas miracle happened. Bob’s home insurance company would probably disagree, though.
So, here was Bob. Watching T.V. as usual, in his usual armchair, and eating his usual microwavable dinner. (Steak and mashed potatoes) Bob did not enjoy Christmas very much. The reason Bob did not like Christmas is because as a child he did not receive any Christmas presents. As a kid he watched from his window as the other children tried out their new bicycles, remote controlled cars, and limited edition “space warriors” rock ’em sock ’em robots.
Bob never understood why he didn’t get any presents. His Grandma never remembered what day it was and of course never knew whether it was Christmas or Valentine’s Day. Maybe Santa didn’t give him presents because he had never properly celebrated Christmas. When he was a child his Grandma would not let him hang up stockings, or bring a Christmas tree into the house to decorate. Eventually Bob just got used to it. After he inherited his Grandma’s house, he also kept most of her traditions. So, up to this fateful day, Bob never celebrated Christmas.
So, here sat Bob without presents on Christmas. He lived alone and had no family. The only Christmas present he received that year was a Christmas card from his workplace. He threw that away.
As Bob was sipping on his 11:00 P.M. coffee, he heard a noise he didn’t usually hear in his house. It sounded like the whining whistle of an incoming bomb from the old World War II movies. And it seemed like it was getting louder. Bob contemplated whether he should move from his chair and go see what the sound was. Just when Bob decided to stand up, he heard a enormous CRASH from above. As Bob looked up at his ceiling, he saw, in slow motion the ceiling cracking open and something falling through the ceiling to the floor. In that split second, Bob dove under his table to cover his head from the falling debris. Unfortunately, he dove too far and hit his head on the table.
Bob woke up to someone shaking him vigourously.
“Are you alright? Wake up! Sorry about the sleigh.” Bob slowly opened his eyes. The voice boomed in his ear, “Good, you are awake.”
Something was prickling Bob’s ear. As he turned his head around, he saw that the thing that prickled him was a full, long white beard. The beard was attached to an red cheeked, old man’s face. Bob slowly hoisted himself up. He took a long look at the old man. He was wearing a red jumpsuit. “That is not attractive,” thought Bob. Then he remembered that something had fallen through his ceiling. He slowly turned his head and looked behind the old man. For a brief second, Bob thought he was going to faint again. Behind the old man, some big red object the size of a car was stuck in his cracked wooden floor.
“You okay?” Said the old man, “You look a little woozy.”
“No. I am okay,” mumbled Bob. Then as he looked around himself, he said, “Wait a minute, WHAT IN THE WORLD HAPPENED HERE?!?! Who are you?” asked Bob indignantly.
“Well, I do not like showing myself to people today of all days. But I guess you deserve to know.” The old man stretched out his hand in greeting with a grin on his face. “I am Santa Claus. And that red object lodged in your living room floor, that’s my Christmas sleigh.”
Bob paused for a few seconds with a quizzical look on his face. Then he started laughing hysterically. The old man put his hand down, shrugged his shoulders and said, “Well, I get that reaction a lot.”
Bob trying not to laugh, said, “Wait. You really want me to believe that you are the jolly old man who travels around the world delivering presents in a red sleigh pulled by flying reind-” Bob froze and stopped talking. Because, just as he was about finish what he was saying, a reindeer flew in through the hole in Bob’s ceiling, jingling the bells on its harness. This wasn’t something Bob saw every day, so his shock is understandable.
The old man laughed a deep throaty laugh, “Ho, ho, ho,” and playfully slapped Bob on the shoulder. “Did Comet scare you? It’s only a flying reindeer.”
With eyes wide, Bob stuttered, “W-w-wait. This can’t be real. I must have hit my head too hard.”
The old man watched with a twinkle in his eye as Bob tightly closed his eyes and pinched his arm. After he opened his eyes and saw the reindeer was still there, silently staring at him, Bob said, “Maybe I’m hallucinating.”
“Trust me Bob. You are not hallucinating,” replied the man claiming to be Santa Claus.
“Ha! How do you know my name?”
Smiling, the old man in the red jumpsuit pointed to the name tag on Bob’s work shirt. Bob looked down, then up at the old man. “You can’t be real! I of all people would know.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“You are supposed to give presents to good kids and not give presents to bad kids, right?”
“Correct!” exclaimed he old man joyously.
“Then either you don’t do your job as you should, or you are a jerk!” yelled Bob, “And – and look at all this!” Bob said pointing to the broken ceiling and fallen sleigh. “What in the world happened here? Engine failure?!”
“Actually, Yes.” answered the old man.
“That is dumb. Isn’t your sleigh pulled by flying reindeer?” asked Bob with a smirk.
“Yes, that is how it always was. But now my sleigh is a hybrid.”
“Ha ha! A hybrid?”Bob laughed.
“Yes. My flying hybrid sleigh uses both reindeer power and an engine rotating a propeller. The reindeer are getting old and out of shape. They can’t carry the weight of all those presents anymore. And PETA doesn’t allow me to create new flying reindeer,” replied the old man sadly. “That’s why when the engine failed, the sleigh pummeled down straight into your house.”
“And you are wearing a red jumpsuit because you jumped out of the sleigh with a parachute? Right?” asked Bob sarcastically.
“Ho, ho, ho! You are good at this. That is exactly what happened,” replied the jolly old man. “And yes, I am Santa Claus, and my sleigh needs fixing so all the children can get their presents.”
“Oh really? As a kid I was always good and obedient. Why did you never give me presents?”
“So now you believe I am Santa Claus?” asked Santa smugly.
“Maybe. But that’s beside the point. Answer the question.”
“I don’t know what you are talking about,” said Santa as he pulled out a long list of names. “You are Bob Dumgal? Right?” asked Santa.
“Yes, that’s me.”
“Well it says here that I always delivered my presents to you every year.”
“You are lying! I never had Christmas presents! I even wrote to you every year. Every Christmas I can remember. I never told my grandma, but I had a small Christmas tree I kept in my closet, just so that you can know where to put the presents.”
“Oh… I remember you.” Santa mumbled with a guilty look in his eyes. “Um, was your grandmother by any chance named Dorothy Dumgal?”
“Yes. What does she have to do with this?” asked Bob with a puzzled look.
“Well you see,” said Santa nervously while scratching his head. “When your grandma was younger, she -um-well, she-” Santa cleared his throat nervously. “You see, when we were younger, your Grandma had a thing for me. Well, it would be fair to say we had a thing for each other. But you see, this was before I met Mrs. Claus. And, well, I think your Grandma never got over me.”
“WHAT?!” yelled Bob incredulously. “That can’t be true!”
“Yes, I am afraid so. But don’t worry, we broke things off. At least I did. Oh, and don’t worry. I am not your grandfather.”
Bob sat down stunned. He contemplated what Santa just said. Then he sprang up and shouted, “NO! No, no, no. this can’t be true. It’s not possible. I never had presents for Christmas and that is your fault! You know how sad it is for a kid to not have presents on Christmas?”
“I already told you, you were a good boy and I delivered presents to you every single Christmas. I don’t know where they could have disappeared to.”
“You know what,” Bob said angrily as he jumped across the rubble on his floor toward Santa’s sleigh. “How about you just get this sleigh out of my house and go back to the insane asylum you came from.”
Bob tried to lift the sleigh, but it was too heavy. Bob threw Santa’s bags of toys out of the sleigh. Santa ran up to help him. They grabbed the sleigh and dragged it out of the hole it had created in his floor. The sleigh was lighter than Bob thought it would be. Must be all that Christmas magic.
As Bob was pulling the sleigh away from the hole in the ground, he noticed something shiny underneath the broken floor. He kneeled down by the hole and pulled out a box covered in … gold wrapping paper? “Did this fall out of your sleigh?” Bob asked Santa.
“Wait, is this a-a present?” murmured Bob to himself in wonder. “Did this fall out of your sleigh?” Bob asked Santa. Santa denied it. Bob opened the present. Inside was a chess set. As Bob looked into the hole of his living room floor, he saw more dust covered boxes. He opened those as well. Inside the presents was a harmonica, a kite, a teddy bear, a remote controlled car, and so many other things any child would enjoy having.
Santa approached Bob and laid a hand on his shoulder. “Yes, I remember these presents. My elves worked so hard to make these especially for you. Hey, what’s that?” asked Santa pointing to a dusty old envelope which was left in the hole.
Bob pulled the envelope out. There was an letter inside. As soon as he opened the letter, he saw his grandmother’s spidery writing. The note was short. All it said was:
Bob, if you find this, you have found out my secret. The secret is that every Christmas Eve when Santa brings toys to you, I take them from under your closet tree and put it under the floorboards. I do this because Christmas is a horrible holiday, and it brings me too many bad memories. So, I don’t want you to be happy on my most miserable day of the year. And I am your grandmother, so I know what is good for you. Oh, by the way, in this envelope is a bank certificate for $450,000. I love you, Robert.
“So you weren’t lying,” whispered Bob. “It’s all true. You did give me presents and my Grandma did have a thing for Santa Claus. She also left me her entire fortune,” said Bob emotionally. “Christmas made her sad because it reminded her of you. She didn’t want me to be happy because of your presents. It all makes sense now.”
“I’m sorry you got caught up in this. No kid should have to be without presents on Christmas,” said Santa heavily.
At that moment, Bob realized that all those Christmas’s where he had no presents and felt unloved had made him a grumpy and pessimistic person. Santa had not forgotten him. And Grandma was still an old witch, but at least she had a reason for being one. Bob’s world had changed and he decided he needed to change. Bob jumped up and said enthusiastically, “If your sleigh isn’t going to fly today, all those kids will be without presents! We have to fix it!”
“How do you plan to do that?” asked Santa skeptically.
“I’m a mechanic at my factory! I’m positive that I can figure out what is wrong with your engine.”
That night, Bob and Santa fixed the sleigh giving Santa just enough time to deliver all the presents before all the little children woke up.
After the sleigh was fixed, Santa harnessed his reindeer, revved his engine, tipped his hat to Bob, and flew through the ceiling of Bob’s house. That is the story of how Bob, a regular factory mechanic fixed Santa’s sleigh and saved Christmas. Later, Bob used the money his grandma left to fix his ceiling and open up a vehicle repair shop in the city. There is an oddly out of place display case in his shop. On it are toys and other neat things, like a chess set, and a harmonica. Also, there is a legend that every Christmas Eve you can see something strangely resembling a red sleigh pulled by reindeer pull into the garage shop of Bob’s Repair Shop. But you know how people are. They love to gossip.