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  • Writer's pictureShelly Desjarlais

"Just call me Old Saint Nick"

“Your parents are going to have a meltdown,” Danielle sighed. Her twin nephews, eight-year-olds Joshua and John, cheered. Danielle shook her head at their reaction. “No, boys. That isn’t a good thing.”


The kitchen was covered with white frosting and hundreds of red and green sprinkles after they had made holiday cookies. Down the hall, the living room shimmered from the amount of silver and gold glitter they had spilled while making Christmas ornaments. Even the boys’ bedrooms were a disaster, as they had tried their hand at wrapping presents. Shreds of festive wrapping paper and torn nametags littered the floor. Danielle knew their Christmas afternoon would get messy, but she never expected to wreck most of the house.


“Dad won’t be home for a whole hour,” Joshua said.


John nodded. “Yeah. We can do more stuff!”


“Fine. Let me think about what we can do that won’t make a mess,” Danielle mumbled. When her gaze fell on her sister-in-law’s desk, she spotted stationary supplies. The idea came to her. “All right. Last Christmas activity of the day. You two are going to write letters to Santa. You haven’t done that yet, have you?”


“Nope!” John replied.


Joshua grinned like a Chesire cat. “I know what I’m gonna ask for!”


“Perfect. You boys can write your letters, and I’ll start cleaning,” Danielle decided.


“No, you have to write a letter too,” Joshua said.


“He’s right. How else will Santa know what you want?” John asked.


Danielle attempted to decline. “No, no. Adults don’t have to write Santa.”


“You have to write a letter to Santa. Just in case,” John insisted.

   

“Yeah. You’re the bestest auntie ever. We don’t want Santa to forget you,” Joshua added.


Grumbling, Danielle knew they weren’t going to let her off the hook. “Fine. I’ll write Santa too. Then, we clean. Got it?”


The boys agreed. Danielle supplied the paper and pens. While the boys were quick to start writing, Danielle paused. She wasn’t sure what to ask for. Regardless, she began to write. She was surprised by how effortlessly she poured her heart into that letter, especially when she knew that Santa wasn’t real. Perhaps that was the reason in itself. She never thought anybody would read her words, and that made them easy to find.


Danielle sealed their letters and addressed them to Santa’s workshop at the North Pole. She set them on the counter with little thought. Her mind was on cleaning the house before her brother returned from holiday shopping. John and Joshua helped her clean as they had promised. Together, they had the place spotless by the time her brother came home.


“Eddie,” Danielle greeted her brother with an embrace. She gestured to the house. “Still standing, and it’s cleaner than it has been in weeks.”


“Be glad Sarah isn’t home to hear you. She’d take that personally,” Eddie chuckled. He quickly hid his Christmas shopping in the pantry. “I hope the boys won’t look in here.”


“I see your trip to the mall was a success. I haven’t even started my shopping yet,” Danielle said.


He shrugged. “You still have a few weeks yet. Where are the twin terrors?”

  

“Sneaking cookies in the bathroom. I told them they could have a few more before you came inside. I figured it’d keep them from seeing you with the shopping bags.”


“Good move. You’re still joining us for Christmas, right?”

  

“If Sarah doesn’t mind.”


“She doesn’t. She’s grateful that you’ve been so helpful with the kids while she’s been buried at work. I’ll give her your best.”


“You do that. I’d better get home. Give the boys kisses for me. Later, Eddie.”


Danielle left Eddie to deal with his chaotic sons. Eddie found them in the bathtub, sharing Christmas cookies. He merely shook his head and let them continue snacking. He went back to the kitchen to start cooking dinner. That was when he spotted the letters to Santa. He wasn’t sure why there were three envelopes. He opened the first two letters, which were from Joshua and John. He then found the letter from Danielle. He read it, and instantly his heart broke.


Later that night, Sarah returned home from work. Eddie gave Danielle’s letter to Santa to his wife. Sarah read it, placing a hand over her chest. “Oh my. Eddie, this is beautiful. It’s sad. Very sad. But beautiful.”


“Are you thinking what I am?” Eddie asked.


Sarah smirked. “Are you wanting to play Santa?”


“Just call me Old Saint Nick.”


Without telling Danielle, Eddie put a plan into action. He kept this plan top secret as the weeks rolled by. Christmas was upon them before they knew it. Danielle put on her ugliest sweater and drove to Eddie’s house to spend the day with Eddie and his family. She knew something was up when Eddie greeted her with a wicked grin.


“What are you smiling about?” Danielle asked.


Eddie played dumb. “It’s Christmas. Why wouldn’t I be smiling?”


“You only get this smile when you’re scheming, Edward. I’d know. I grew up with you,” Daneille said with a suspicious glimmer in her eye.


“Don’t think about it. Just come in and grab a cup of hot chocolate,” Eddie responded.


Danielle went into the kitchen where Sarah had made hot chocolate. Being the shrewd woman that she was, Danielle noticed the number of mugs was off. “Sarah, why is there an extra mug?”


“Oh. I must have miscounted,” Sarah responded.


Danielle folded her arms. “What are you and Eddie up to?”


“Nothing,” Sarah answered. There was knock at the door. “I wonder who that could be.”


After a moment, Eddie came into the kitchen. He put his hands on Danielle’s arms. “Danielle, I have a confession to make. I found your letter to Santa. I sent it.”


“You sent my letter to Santa?” Danielle said.


“No. I sent it to someone else,” Eddie replied.


A second later, a woman named Rose came into the kitchen. Danielle froze in place. Rose smiled at her outfit. “Nice sweater, Danny.”


“Rose? What are you doing here? It’s been years,” Danielle muttered.


Rose pointed at Eddie. “He sent me the letter. He thought that maybe I felt the same way you did. And he was right.”


“Why don’t you two take your hot chocolate and go sit by the tree? You have a lot of catching up to do,” Eddie suggested.


Sarah handed them each a mug. Rose went into the living room to sit by the tree. Danielle headed in that direction. She then stopped and rushed back to the kitchen. She wrapped her arms around Eddie. “Thanks, Santa.”


“You’re welcome. Go. While the hot chocolate is still warm,” Eddie said, smiling.


Danielle joined Rose by the tree. Sarah gave Eddie an embrace of her own. “That was sweet of you, Ed.”


“All I did was forward a letter. It was Danielle’s heart that did the work.”


Rose had Dainelle’s letter in her pant pocket. She took it out one more time, though she had already read it a dozen times over.

 

Dear Santa,

 

When we’re kids, we ask for things we want for ourselves. When we grow up, we realize that the beauty of Christmas isn’t in what we gain. It’s in what we give. For that reason, I’m not asking for something for myself. I want to ask for something for someone else…someone I can’t stop loving no matter how hard I try. Her name is Rose. I want her to be happy, Santa. I want her to have everything we threw away with someone who treats her better than I ever did. Than I ever could. I want you to give her whatever she wants or needs, and I want you to remind her somehow that I’ll always want the best for her. I’d tell her myself, but I’m afraid that she’s forgotten me. Or, worse, that she hates me. Our past is a complicated one. Complicated but beautiful. As beautiful and magical as this holiday season.

 

Please, do this for me, Santa. Please give her the world. I don’t need it. I only need to know that she’s okay. Because she is my world. Still.

 

Sincerely,

Danielle

 

“Are you okay?” Danielle asked Rose.


Rose looked at Danielle’s face, beaming. “I am now. Merry Christmas, Danny.”

  

“Merry Christmas, Rose.”

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