The Year The Christmas Presents Were Late
In the middle of the woods where no one ever visits, a tiny little cabin snuggled up to the tall fir trees that groaned under their heavy snow load. Big snowflakes tumbled in wild swirls from the dark sky of the icy cold winter night.
Inside the cozy warm cabin, the pixies were singing and dancing around their big, festive Christmas tree. Round and round and round they went. Suddenly, a thundering voice echoed through the chimney: “Help!” The dancing and singing stopped. All was quiet.
Again the voice thundered, “Help me!” Pieces of brick tumbled out of the fireplace into the room, and a layer of dust put out the fire. Inside the chimney, it rustled and hustled and joggled and jiggled until the whole house was shaking.
“Hey!” squeaked the house. “Stop that at once! I’m falling apart!” The shutters opened and closed with a loud bang. “Pixies, where are you?”
The pixies were gone and a miserable silence filled the room. “Here they are, hiding under my top,” said the wooden table. It creaked and cracked so much that you could almost see splinters flying through the room. “They are all under cover!”
“Don’t panic!” the tea kettle buzzed. “Don’t panic. This is just a technical complicacy.” The table and the house calmed down. But the pixies could not believe their ears.
“A technical complicacy?” squeaked the smallest but most meddlesome pixie, who, by the way, was called Puck. “Tonight is Christmas Eve. There can’t be a technical complicacy! And whoever sits in our chimney blocks Santa. This way we’ll never get our presents!”
Puck shouted up the chimney at the top of his lungs, “Go away! Out of our chimney! Right now!” And he stamped his feet on the floor.
The chimney started shaking again, but this time the noises sounded angry. Very angry indeed. “You don’t get any presents today anyway! I am Santa Claus. The tea kettle is right. There is a technical complicacy. I am stuck. I’m … hmm …” Santa fell silent. The pixies under the table waited curiously, their mouths wide open and their eyes shining brightly.
Finally, the chimney could not take it any longer. “He is too big!” it shouted. And then it spat smoke, shook and rocked and there he was. In a big cloud of dust, Santa Claus slid out of the fireplace into the room, his dress full of ash and his once shiny white beard almost black. And this Santa Claus really had a big belly! And at the moment he was almost as shy as he was round.
“I say,” said Puck. “Santa Claus is just right, belly and all!” Santa Claus beamed at him and forgot all his anger.
The pixies crawled out from under the table and Santa Claus found all the right presents in his big bag. Puck even got an extra big one. The wrapping paper was, here and there, sprinkled with tiny bits of ash but not one of the pixies complained. They loved their presents.
Soon they were all dancing and singing again and laughing out loud. The table creaked, the chimney smoked, the tea kettle buzzed and the grouchy house? Merrily and loud, the house sang Christmas tunes with all the wrong notes.
Santa Claus had so much fun that he lost track of time. He stayed the whole night and celebrated with the pixies.
And that was the year when all the Christmas presents were late for a whole day. When they finally arrived, each of them had a small note glued on top that read:
I am very sorry for the delay, but there was a technical complicacy.
Next year I’ll promise to be on time again!
P.S.: The story was first published in German with the title “Als die Weihnachstgeschenke Verspätung hatten” in the anthology “Fröhliche Weihnacht”, Geest-Verlag.