To Jessie’s delight, Santa and Molly prepared a feast for Molly’s birthday lunch. Jessie was stuffed and could barely follow Santa into the living room after the meal. She watched as he lit a fire in the chimney, sat on the sofa, and began snoring softly in the afternoon darkness. Jessie quietly snuck onto the sofa looking to see if he was going to object. When Santa didn’t awake, she turned around in a circle and laid down with her head on a pillow. Her snores soon joined Santa’s.
When Jessie woke up it was hard for her to tell how long she had been sleeping. She knew it wasn’t suppertime yet as Molly hadn’t called her. In any case, while she was sleeping, two of the Elvin people had come into the living room and were sitting at a table in the corner with Santa.
One of the elves was the elf she had encountered in the kitchen and she was wary of gathering his attention. She kept her eyes closed and pretended to be sleeping while she listened to Santa and the elves talk.
“So, you’ve updated the address database again Himley. I hope this will work out better than last year’s software upgrade. It cost us several million dollars to hire elves to re-input the children’s names and addresses that were lost. “Santa pushed his wire rimmed glasses up his face and pulled the computer on the desk closer to him. He squinted and looked at the screen.
“Now Santa, you know that wasn’t our fault. The power went out when the upgrade was half way done and corrupted the data. The database upgrade has already occurred and all of the children have been entered. We’ve even upgraded the interface so that our agents can monitor both the ‘Naughty and Nice’ list and the ‘wish list’ more closely this year. We were very embarrassed when you delivered lipstick to Tommy Milkins. I guarantee it will not happen again.” Himley slammed his fist on the table to emphasize his point. He turned red when Santa looked at him quizzically.
Jessie looked at Santa. Jessie knew Molly called Chris Santa, but she hadn’t realized other people did as well. The only Santa she knew that people called by name was Santa Claus. Could Chris be the real Santa Claus?
Jessie thought back to last year. Santa last year had brought her a fluffy dog toy. She had gotten a glimpse of the jolly man when she woke up while he was at the tree. Chris doesn’t look like Santa Jessie had seen. In fact for some reason he looked younger every day.
Yesterday, there had been fine lines around his eyes and his hair had been white around the temples. Now his hair was fire engine red, and his face was soft and chubby. Chris looked nothing like Santa.
From across the room Santa looked at Jessie and smiled. He closed the computer. “I trust your instincts Himley. Just keep me informed if any errors are found with the data. Now, today’s a holiday. Why don’t you go and enjoy a meal with your family. The list will wait until tomorrow.”
Chris showed Himley to the door and said good-bye. He came and sat down beside Jessie. He petted her soft fur and rumpled her ears.
“Yes Jessie, I am Santa Claus or at least the latest Santa Claus. My family has been in the business for many years. Each generation hands down the position to the youngest son of the family. I know I don’t look like Santa but Christmas Magic transforms my appearance a week before Christmas every year. Santa Claus is my business name. Christopher Cringle is my real name.” Chris got up and crossed the room where he stoked the coals in the fire.
“You’ve always been a good dog Jessie, and when I saw in my magic snowball that you were homeless I set out to find you. I hoped you’d decide to come and live with us. I know you miss the lady you lived with before, but I hope you’ll be happy here. Maybe this year you can come with me on my Christmas journey. It’s a long night travelling by myself.
But, if you decide you’d rather live with a normal family I’ll find you one. I promised I’d take care of you and I intend to take care of that promise.” Santa looked directly into Jessie’s eyes.
Jessie was confused. Somehow Santa had known what she was thinking. It made her slightly uncomfortable, but she loved Santa and Molly. They had been so kind to her since she’d come to the North Pole. She had to make Santa know that she loved them and wanted to stay with them.
Jessie wagged her tail and began licking Santa across his face. She continued licking until Santa laughed and then protested. “Thanks Jessie but you don’t need to give me a bath. I’m glad you’ve decided to stay with us. I’ve gotten rather attached to you in the last couple of days. Now, let’s go sneak some eggnog from the kitchen.
Jessie smiled and jumped down. She couldn’t believe that Santa Claus was her friend. Today she felt like she was the luckiest dog in the world. A new home, a new life, and a kind family; Jessie had everything that she had ever wanted.