You know it’s Christmas when you’re being blinded by Christmas lights that practically wind around any available surface, illuminating the roads and busy streets for the season. Left and right, you’re slapped with obnoxiously loud posters plastered across the shops’ display windows, screaming ‘SALE’ while guilt-tripping you for missing out on the “best deals of the year”. Shoppers bundled up in thick, warm garments packed into the tiny shops, seeking refuge from the brutal cold outside. The streets smell of gingerbread and candy canes, both artificial and natural scents mixing into the air. A gust of wind whips past you and tongues at the sliver of exposed skin around your neck. You shiver involuntarily. Pulling up the thick woollen scarf over your dripping nose, you quicken your steps, braving through the power walk across the entrance of Yankee Candle, the overwhelming scent of Christmas Cookie and Sparkling Cinnamon putting you in a temporary chokehold. You hurry down the busy streets, stopping in front of GameStop. The newly released game is on sale. You’ve heard the countless praises for the game and it seems to be a wildly popular among kids too. Well, you might as well gift it to your nephew, he’d appreciate it even if your sister doesn’t. It’s okay to spoil the kid every once in a while, after all, Christmas is around the corner.
Well, you may be wondering where the story begins. Now don’t get cocky because this story isn’t about you. No, this story is set in a destination much further away, tucked away in a place a little to the left of the North Pole. That’s where the Santa Claus Village is, a place thought to reside among other children’s myths and legends. Unbeknownst to the world, the village is indeed very real. It is one of the most magical places on Earth, a gem hidden away from the rest of the world. The place is dubbed as one of, if not the most joyous places on Earth by the few that are aware of its existence. Christmas spirit never dies here, rather, the village strives on it; it’s how they live.
Here, ugly Christmas sweaters aren’t just reserved for the holidays; they are a daily staple worn under thick parkas of Christmas colours, appearing in various shades of green, red, white with the occasional splashes of gold. And to the residents, there is no such thing as ‘taking down your decorations’; the string of colourful lights strung across their roofs, the light-up Rudolph instalments and the decorated pine tree that is stationary to every household planted in their front lawns, all of these are not excessive, they are permanent renovations to every home. The cold weather contributes to the holiday vibes as well; it’s like living in a perpetual state of white Christmas all year round.
Even their factories seem to belong in children’s fairytale pop-up books. The exterior is made of a special blend of gingerbread, its secret recipe heavily guarded by the villagers for generations. The cookie mix, once dry becomes hard as concrete, yet, emits an everlasting sugared scent that isn’t cloying. Unlike the drab, grey concrete structures we’re familiar with, their factories are studded with vibrant M&Ms and glossy peppermint sweets (among other confectionery embellishments), the windows made from clear melted down candies. The entrance is framed by two giant striped candy canes, holding the sugar cookie double doors in place.
Now, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the man running the village is none other than the original Father Christmas himself, St. Nicholas. Running the most joyous villages and overseeing one of the most anticipated holidays is a dream come true for the senior, so what has gotten into him for his white feathered brows to crease and furrow, merging into a unibrow. The carpeted floors cushions the heavy footsteps of his worn black boots as he paces in front of the fireplace. Yet another uncharacteristic sigh rips from him; that’s a record number of consecutive sighs for the usually cheery old man, if he actually keeps count that is. He grabs for his mug of egg nog and takes a swig, feeling the kick of the vodka, dulling his senses just a little to keep himself from going insane from the stress he’s currently faced with. Shuffling across his cabin, he leans against the cold surface of his window, dreading the events planned for the following day. His warm breath fogs up the window as he sighs, again.
The next day, Holiday Headquarters garners a number of visitors – various sleighs and reindeers (and even a red-nosed buffalo) are parked outside the building, taking up most of the parking spaces. Judging from the tiny footsteps treading through the thick snow and the trail of wet bootprints leading up the steps to the veranda, someone even made it here on foot. Impressive.
The international visitors dressed in red suits are ushered into the board room, each one donning a Santa suit with a cultural twist of their own. Chatter grows as the room fills and the sound of chair legs scraping against the hardwood floors add to the noise. The visitors settle down on either side of the incredibly long conference table, with St. Nicholas situated at the head of the table. The man himself clears his throat, the sound bouncing off the walls and bellowing through the rooms. Silence engulfs the room almost immediately and St. Nicholas takes it as his cue to commence the United League of Santas conference. Greetings and introductions are cut short as St. Nicholas explains the Christmas crisis that has shaken their world.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we are facing an emergency. We are talking about code red here!” his fist comes slamming down against the smooth table top, rattling the whole room and startling its occupants.
“Everyone is in the holiday spirit. They’re carolling, shopping for gifts and baking cookies. So why in the name of Rudolph aren’t kids writing us letters? The letters… they just stopped coming. And worse, this is an international catastrophe; this applies for kids globally. Never in all my years have had had I witnessed anything like this. At this rate, we’ll be out of commission by Christmas,” St. Nicholas continues, his Turkish accent thick in his voice. “If anyone has any suggestions, I’d appreciate it if you speak now.”
His tone is completely devoid of any cheeriness and even the playful twinkle has abandoned his eyes. Overall, it seems like the man’s effervescent personality has dimmed as well. It really dawns on the other Santas how dire their situation is.
Silence settles in the room for a while before someone pipes up.
“Maybe it’s because kids these days will just badger their parents for gifts until they give in. Why ask Santa for anything when their parents have already bought it for them?”
“Not everyone is able to afford gifts, Simon.”
“Or maybe it’s because no one wants to play with our toys anymore. The millennials can practically survive on their phones and other electronics alone. Kids these days, they’re the problem! They won’t even look up from their screens-”
“Mother of Rudolph! Frank, would you please just stop with your ‘millennials are garbage’ bullshit. Yes! Yes, we get it: iPhones are the bane of the world’s existence and should be burnt by the Sun. Please, as if you’re one to talk. You OWN an iPhone Frank, ditching it for the Nokia you called a ‘relic’. Now, can we please move on?” Clement (from Belgium) interrupted, clearly having heard enough of Frank’s ramblings.
Frank opens and closes his mouth several times but is unable to utter a comeback. He folds his arms crossly slumps back into his seat, feeling defeat and embarrassment burn in his already ruddy cheeks. It is safe to say he opts to remain silent for the rest of the meeting.
“Could it be that kids just don’t believe in Santa anymore? Kids are maturing faster and all and they get made fun of for believing in us. They think we’re just a bunch of clowns dressed in red suits and white beards, shoving our bodies down chimneys.”
The discussion continues, with Santa Clauses throwing out suggestions and others shutting them down.
(Please continue the story as your characters.)