Lost on Christmas Eve

Preface: Last year, my sister requested (read ‘begged’) I write a non creepy story, so I did, and put it in her stocking.

Lost. On Christmas Eve! Of all the days for my car to break down, it had to be in the middle of nowhere, on Christmas Eve, when my phone had run out of battery. Maybe there had been something in the exact opposite direction to the direction I had tried walking, but now I was lost in a dark forest in the middle of nowhere with no way to call for help.

“Ho, there!” I turned to see who had spoken. A large man with a snow white beard and in an old fur coat was walking towards me. “What’s someone doing out in the woods on Christmas Eve?” he asked.

“My car’s broken down and I got lost looking for help,” I replied.

“Well that’s no good! Come along to my house.”

I was wary of following him.

“Oh, come on, what’s the worst that could happen? If you follow me, I might kill you horrifically, or you could stay in the woods and starve to death. Take the chance why don’t you!”

“Fine,” I said, and began following him.

“I was once in your position myself. Lost, but not on Christmas Eve, mind you, it was on the first day of Saturnalia—those were good days, complete nonsense, but quite fun. Where was I? Oh yes, I got lost in these very woods. ‘Tis the secret to the holidays, but don’t tell anyone I said so.”

“Huh?”

“Your family waiting for you? Probably worried about you?”

“Yes…?”

“No good, no good at all. Ah, there we are!” He pointed, and there was a large wooden shed. “Come out, little ones! A lost soul needs taking home.” Out from behind various trees popped a couple dozen children. “Pepper and Alabaster, get the sleigh ready. Shinny and Wunhorse, go get the Connecticut bag. Sugarplum and Bushy, see if you can find Donder and Blitzen. The rest of you, to your stations! Now dash away all!”

All the children ran off, but did he just say Donder and Blitzen?

“No time for such thoughts now, we need to get going!”

“Where?”

“Why, home, of course. Into the shed!”

He ran with surprising speed for his size to the door of the shed and threw it open. Inside lay a sleigh with matte red sides and silver trimming. Children were rushing about; some were quickly cleaning the sleigh, and another group was carrying a large bag in from the back. Others were bringing in deer and harnessing them to the sleigh, or are they…

“No, they’re not deer,” said the man, “They’re reindeer. Try not to make that mistake again, they’re completely different.”

“I didn’t say anything.”

“Everyone makes that mistake, don’t worry about it.” He turned and called out. “Sugarplum!” One of the children stopped and ran over. “Where’s Blitzen?”

“Don’t know, sir,” she said. “Checked the stables and the fields and couldn’t find him.”

“Did you check the rec room?”

“Oh!” With that, she ran off.

“Poor Sugarplum,” said the man, “Never was very good at finding things—took her a week to find the Christmas tree last year.” A moment later Sugarplum returned leading another reindeer in. That made eight reindeer. Suspiciously familiar. “Come on, up into the sleigh,” the man said as he swung into the left seat. So I climbed into the other side.

“What’s your name?” I finally asked.

“Chris, with a ‘ch,’ but I go by whatever name suits me best.” He turned and snapped the reins. “Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Donder and Blitzen!”

With that, we were off with such speed I thought I would go flying out the top of the sleigh. We flew up above the forest, and I had no doubt in my mind as to who this man was. We flew faster than I thought possible, whizzing over the landscape below too fast to make anything out.

We slowly began to slow down, allowing me to see the streets below. My street, then my house came into sight. We set down with the prancing of hooves against the asphalt in front of my home. “There you go, then. I’ve got to get going to the other homes.”

I stepped off and turned to thank him, but with a stamping of feet, he was off. But I heard him exclaim, before he drove out of sight, “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

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