Tommy walked through the streets of the town, his little sister, Stephanie, gripping his hand tight.
“But what if he eats me!” Stephanie cried.
“He’s not gonna eat you, Steph. He’s the nicest man in the world.” Tommy explained.
“Then why does he sneak into people’s houses at night and eat their cookies?” Stephanie asked. “Why doesn’t he just come during the day and we let him in?”
“Because Steph he-” Tommy stopped. “Actually that’s a really good point.”
“See! He’s gonna eat me!” Stephanie yelled once more.
“Just because he sneaks in at night doesn’t mean he’s going to eat you. He’s a great guy, you’ll see. Just trust me,” Tommy reassured his little sister.
“Okay, big brother,” Stephanie replied. “I’m trusting you on this.”
“Great! It’ll be fun!” Tommy cheered.
Tommy led his sister by the hand through the narrow stone streets of the town, ducking and dodging the hurrying people as they raced off to their busy jobs. Stephanie continued to hold tight onto her big brother’s hand to avoid getting lost in the crowd. Tommy did the same, pulling his little sister along as they headed for the town square.
After constant weaving through the foot traffic the brother and sister reached the clearing of the town square; the big hub of the town, where you could find practically anything. The cobblestone of the square were cut so beautifully and symmetrically, arranged in intricate patterns on the ground. Streetlights rested along the outskirts of the square towards the shops, illuminating the square in a spectacular orange glow. Christmas wreaths hung from the necks of their posts, which complimented the thousands of Christmas lights that were all woven together throughout the rooftops of the square. It was a scene out of a storybook. It was a square so beautiful that it attracted tourists from all over the world. It was even so beautiful that it attracted the likes of the big man himself! Yes, indeed, the one and only Santa Claus announced that he would be packing his bags in the North Pole and trekking down to this quiet little wintery tourist spot to set up shop a few decades ago. It was enormous news at the time and people went crazy about it. They flocked by the millions just to get a glimpse of a man who spent his entire life in solitude up at the North Pole. In Santa’s first few years there, it was quite difficult for him to go anywhere due to the constant crowds and cameras in his face. It got so overwhelming at times that Santa would go weeks on end without leaving his home. Quite a crazy time it was back during the early years of his transition.
That was many years ago, however. These days, Santa was treated just like any other person, well, except by the children. The children always got a kick out of seeing Santa and telling him what they wanted for Christmas. He was a hero to them and they worshipped him almost like a god.
Little Stephanie, however, was always skeptical of Ol’ Saint Nick. Being only five years old, she had quite the imagination. She always thought Santa was a scary monster who ate little kids for breakfast. Of course she had never been old enough to meet Santa to know the validity of her thoughts, but this year she finally was, and today was the day she would meet the man of her nightmares.
Tommy and Stephanie began to meander over to the queue for the meet-and-greet with Santa. They had left their home early to avoid the swarms of children that hovered all around the square during the meet-and-greet period, which began around 7 o’clock. Tommy, being ten years old this year, was not as fanatic as the other children, having met Santa plenty of times over the years.
Overestimating the time that they had before the surge of children, Tommy and Stephanie took their time walking to the start of the line. With the queue wide open, it seemed as if they had the first spot locked down. But suddenly, a roar erupted in the distance. Screams and shouts bellowed and echoed down the streets into the square.
“Oh no,” Tommy worriedly said.
Then, as quick as Santa’s flight on Christmas Eve, the square exploded with a swarm of ecstatic little children rushing to get a spot in line to see Santa. The children swarmed with such force that it broke Tommy’s grip on Stephanie’s hand, the crowd carrying the two in opposite directions. The siblings yelled out for each other as they tried to fight the current of the crowd and reunite, but it was no use. Tommy had lost his sister, and he found himself trapped in the mob.
The cluster of kids swirled and swirled around the square, carrying Tommy with them, making him quite dizzy. Luckily, the current eventually carried him towards the edge of the crowd, spitting him out onto the sidewalk, knocking him to the ground. Disoriented, Tommy got back on his feet and dusted himself off. He turned back to face the sea of children and began to scan for his little sister. She was wearing a bright pink hat with kitty ears on top, so it shouldn’t have been that hard to find her. Sadly, though, after minutes of searching, Tommy’s eyes caught no sight of her vibrant winter hat. Defeated, Tommy put his head down and kicked around a pebble.
How am I going to explain this to my mom?
Tommy was busy thinking up elaborate ways of explaining to his mother what had happened to Stephanie when he was nearly hit by an incoming 2nd grader, barely managing to jump out-of-the-way. Tommy thought it was best for him to get out of the open. It was too dangerous to stay out here Just as he concluded this decision, he was filled with the intoxicating aroma of Christmas cookies. He looked up and read the sign that hung from the building in front of him, Aunt Patty’s Bakery, the most famous bakery in town. Aunt Patty’s Bakery had been there for ages and it was the place to get Christmas cookies and other holiday treats during the season. Tommy decided to pop his head into the bakery to take shelter from the storm.
Tommy walked through the doorway of the bakery, a bell ringing upon his entering. The woman at the counter looked up from her cleaning and smiled before going back to wiping down the counter. Tommy found an empty table and plopped down in the old wooden chair, his body sinking down in despair. A waiter quickly brought over a piping cup of cocoa and a plate of freshly baked Christmas cookies, prompting Tommy to perk up in his chair. The hot chocolate was a work of art. Tommy almost felt bad for drinking it. The hot cocoa was topped with whipped cream that was pure white like a snow cap, swirled to perfection. Sprinkled on top was flakes of real swiss chocolate that danced across the mountain of whipped cream in a perfectly random pattern. As if that weren’t enough, a drizzle of chocolate syrup cascaded down the sides of the whipped cream like flowing streams. Tommy marveled at the masterpiece in front of him before gulping it down with no hesitation. Turning his attention now to the cookies, Tommy picked up one of the sugar cookies coated in a sketch of a Christmas tree drawn with green frosting. He put the cookie up to his mouth and took a bite. The cookie practically melted right in his mouth it was so soft and chewy, yet so filled with flavor and sweetness. Tommy was in heaven, but it just didn’t feel right without his little sister there next to him, even more so considering Tommy had just lost her. He continued to eat his cookies, but his sadness showed on his face.
The woman at the counter noticed Tommy’s sad demeanor and frowned a bit. She couldn’t bear to see a child look so glum. She put the old rag she was using down and walked around the counter. She began to approach the table Tommy was at, the floorboards creaking upon every step. Reaching the table, she looked down at Tommy, while Tommy looked up at her in return. She looked as old as the store. Her tan face was decorated with wrinkles. Tommy assumed that this was Aunt Patty herself.
Aunt Patty smiled and spoke. “Hello there, dear. What’s go you so down? Don’t you know what time of year it is?” The old woman asked the boy.
“Yes ma’am, it’s just my sister and I came here to see Santa Claus, it’s her first time and all, but we were walking through the square when this great big group of kids came flying in and separated me from my sister. I tried looking for her, but it was no use and now I’ve lost my sister forever and it’s all my fault.” Tommy explained.
Aunt Patty laughed. “Oh sweetie, I’m sure you didn’t lose her forever. Maybe I can help. What does she look like?”
Tommy began to describe his sister’s long, bright blonde hair that shimmered under the sun, which she wore under that pink kitty hat of hers. He demonstrated her short stature by showing where on him her body grew to, which ended right around where Tommy’s ribcage started, concluding with her bright blue eyes that lit up an entire room like searchlights. Aunt Betty simply nodded as Tommy rattled off as much description of his little sister as he could, practically out of breath by the end of it.
“Oh, and her name is Stephanie,” Tommy gasped.
Aunt Betty paused for a moment before looking over Tommy’s shoulder. She smiled. “You mean like that girl?” She said pointing over Tommy’s shoulder.
Tommy turned to see his sister, Stephanie, standing in the doorway. She locked eyes with him and then shouted his name, sprinting full speed towards her big brother. Tommy stood up and hugged Stephanie as she came flying into him.
“Stephanie! Thank goodness I found you! I thought I was never going to see you again!”
“I know me too! I was so scared, but this nice man found me and helped me look for you!” Stephanie explained.
“What nice man?” Tommy asked.
Stephanie turned and pointed towards the doorway. Almost on cue, a large, jolly looking man came bounding into the bakery. He hoisted up his red pants and let out a bellowing ho! ho! ho!
“Santa!” Tommy yelled.
“Yeah he was super nice and let me ride on his shoulders. You were right Tommy, Santa is the bestest, nicest man in the whole wide world!” Stephanie explained as Santa strolled over to the table.
“That’s very sweet of you to say Stephanie, you sure belong on the nice list this year,” Santa said. “And don’t worry, I’ll make sure to bring you what you asked me for Christmas,” Santa promised with a wink.
“Thanks Santa!” Stephanie said excitedly.
“Now as for you, young Tommy…what would you like for Christmas?” Santa Claus asked while picking Tommy up and placing him on his lap.
Tommy hesitated before leaning in and whispering to Santa what he wanted. Santa nodded and then put Tommy back on his feet.
“That is a great wish!” Saint Nick told Tommy. “Now to celebrate this little reunion, another round of Christmas cookies for the table! On me!” Santa exclaimed.
Tommy and Stephanie cheered as they sat together, reunited, enjoying Christmas cookies with the man of Christmas, himself, both as happy as they could be.