Santa blinked at the light of his bedside table. He grasped the alarm clock in his hand and almost threw it across the room It was already time to get up and he felt like he hadn’t slept in days. His back hurt, his stomach was upset and his chin was itchy. Santa started and groaned. It couldn’t be happening already, he thought. After all it wasn’t even the beginning of December.
Santa stiffly rose from the bed and walked to the full length mirror in the bathroom. he looked at his ripped and tattered pajamas and sighed. It always happened overnight. He always changed from his normal slender frame to a portly, old man with a white beard while he slept. If he didn’t know that he was looking at himself he would have thought he was looking at a picture a stranger.
Santa quickly dressed from his Christmas clothes closet and walked out to the living room. He huffed as he made his way to the coffee table and sat in the oversize easy chair. Santa happily speared pancakes from a platter Molly had left on the table and began to much his breakfast while reading the Arctic newspaper.
Sleeping on the couch across from his was Jessie. Her feet were moving as she slept and she lowly growled. She must have growled too loudly and woke herself up because as Santa watched Jessie yawned, stretched and opened her eyes. The tip of her tail began to wag as she spied Molly in the kitchen flipping pancakes on the grill.
Jessie hopped down off the couch and moved to go to the kitchen. As she passed the easy chair she stopped abruptly and moved backwards into the side of the wall. Her ears went down and a deep growl came from her throat.
Santa dropped his fork and looked at the dog. Could it be possible she didn’t recognize him. She had seen him transform last Christmas but it had been a year. Maybe, she forgot what he looked like at Christmas. “Jessie, it’s me. I’m your old friend Santa Claus.” He reached out his hand to pet the dog’s fur as she pushed herself into the wall harder. Her growl grew louder.
“Jessie, it’s Santa. Trust your nose. You know what he smells like. Go take a look.” Molly petted the dog’s head and turned the dog’s body towards the chair.
Jessie dug her nails into the carpet and then lowered her nose to the floor. Her ears perked up and she began following a zig-zagged trail from the kitchen to the bathroom to the bedroom. She stayed several minutes in the bedroom and then followed the scent into the living room and moved to approach Santa. She stopped shy of the man and sniffed the air. She looked at the Santa curiously.
“Jessie, it’s me! Christmas magic is working to change my appearance so that I look like the old man that children expect. But, I’m still your pal and I’ll change back after Christmas.” Santa held out his hand for the dog to sniff.
Jessie delicately sniffed Santa’s hand, then his foot and finally his legs. Her face relaxed, she sat on her haunches and pounded her tail into the ground. Jessie rubbed her head against Santa’s knee until she spied his plate of pancakes. She stopped, turned, looked Santa directly in the eye and then glanced at the plate.
Santa laughed so loudly that it startled the dog. “I see that your stomach hasn’t changed any. Here, girl. Let’s share.” Santa plopped a pancake on his saucer and placed it on the floor for the dog. He watched as she devoured the food. He had changed so suddenly that his best friend hadn’t recognized him. Santa wondered why the magic always worked so quickly and why it was early this year. He supposed that he would find out soon.
Santa happily slid another pancake down to the dog and then began to eat his own food. No reason to starve, he thought. The magic will make itself clear in the following days. He sighed and grabbed his coffee cup, took a gulp, and dreamed of his future Christmas adventures.