Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house-
“What happened?” She whispered, standing above him as he attempted to descend the stairs.
“I just stubbed my toe.”
“You should have turned on a light like I told you, Alan.” She nudged him in the back with her presents.
“No, the hallway light will wake up the kids Carol.” He said, shushing her.
“You’re the one who’s being loud. Besides, the kids don’t wake up for anything less than a world war, let alone their alarm clocks.” She explained.
“That’s where you’re mistaken dear. The kids will be up all night, waiting for Santa Clause to come by. They could be up now, listening.” His whispers rose up, almost obnoxiously loud.
There was cracking sound of the door frame adjusting under the weight of the door that had just swung open. “Santa?”
“Dangit, you just woke up Jennifer.” She turned to him. “No, honey; it’s just mommy and daddy.” She spoke up.
“Did Santa come already?” Her tiny voice spoke out from her room.
“No, we’re just making sure we put out the candles.” Alan spoke, looking down at the near invisible treads of the stairs, in a soft glow emanating from downstairs. “We just want to make sure we don’t burn down the house.”
“No no!” The little girl cried out. “If the house burns down how will Santa come?”
“Look what you did now.” She pushed him. “The house isn’t going to burn down.”
“We just want to make sure he doesn’t knock them over with his big sack full of presents.” He explained. She jabbed him again.
“Don’t eat any of the cookies daddy, me and mommy made them just for him.”
“I’ll make sure he doesn’t.” Carol flashed her smile at him in the dark. “Daddy has a big enough tummy already. I’ll go put her to bed.” She whispered to him.
Alan nodded his head, and she placed her stack of presents on top of his. Carefully, he continued to shuffle down the stairs. He grasped tightly onto the stack of neatly wrapped boxes. Finally at the bottom of the stairs he turned towards the family room, with tree neatly lit up in the corner.
As he stepped over the threshold, his feet made contact with a fleece covering that had been strewn across the tile floor. Before he could gain traction, he slipped and flew backwards. With an ounce of luck, he was able to grab onto the banister, but the gifts had all fallen to the ground with a loud clang.
The blanket he had slipped on started to move, and the lump under it shifted around, bunching it up. A young boy popped his head out from under it.
“Santa?” Came the groggy voice.
“Thomas? What are you doing down here, why aren’t you in bed?” Alan said, catching his breath.
“THAT’S SANTA, HE KNOCKED OVER THE CANDLES.” Came shouting from upstairs, followed by loud yet tiny footsteps down the stairs.
Alan stood in place, surrounded by presents strewn across the ground. The little boy had extracted himself from under the blanket, and began to amass the presents that had fallen close to him. Jennifer arrived at the bottom step to look at the carnage.
“Jenny! Jenny! Santa came! Look at all the presents!” The little boy raved.
“Daddy!” She yelled, sending tiny fists into his shoulder. “You scared Santa didn’t you; you made him drop all the presents.”
Carol stepped down the stairs behind her, shaking her head. The little girl jumped down from the last step and across into the living room, where she began shouting. “You didn’t even give him enough time to eat the cookies and drink the milk! He’s gonna be mad, and he won’t come next year.”
Carol stepped behind Alan and wrapped her arms over his shoulders, whispering. “It’s okay, by next year they’ll have forgotten.”
“Yeah, but they’re going to tell their friends at school how their dad attacked Santa Clause…”