In the bleak midwinter of polar snow, where only elves and white bears go, Santa sat at his kitchen table, drinking hot tea with just a touch of Irish whiskey. He shivered and wrapped a blanket around himself and took another drink.
“I’be feeling better,” he said.
“You’re not going out,” his wife said. “You’re sick. Someone other than me might talk about how smart it was yesterday afternoon to have a two-hour snowball fight with the elves with your coat off. All I’m going to say is that you have a terrible cold, you need to get well, and you won’t get better flying all over the world with that cold wind in your face.”
“Bud the toys,” he said and felt tired even as he spoke, pulling the blanket tighter.
“I’ve taken care of it,” she said. “I called your cousin.”
“Santa Clara agreed to deliver the toys, and she’s really good with reindeer. Those veterinarian classes she took are paying off. Now you get on to bed and get some rest.”
Santa Clara arrived in late afternoon, wearing a long coat with a floral pattern in red and orange. “Hey!” she said loudly, coming in the door. “That’s quite a white Christmas out there! Pretty different from Miami. When are you two coming to visit, by the way?” She hung the coat on a hook by the door and was wearing a bright yellow sleeveless dress underneath.
“Oh,” said Mrs. Claus, waving her hand in the air. “Trying to drag His Jollity away from here is a task for a moose. When he’s not working he just wants to sit on the couch and chill.”
“You can sure do that in here alright!” said Santa Clara, shivering. “I thought you’d have the heat on.”
“We keep the place kind of cool and wear sweaters,” Mrs. Claus said. “You should see the gas bill. Anyway, I had the IT elves put together an app to download tonight’s route on your phone. And I emailed you the naughty and nice list as an attachment.”
“I got it,” Santa Clara said. “Some of the things on that naughty list are, you know, not all that naughty where I live.” She stopped and smiled. “I was thinking I could at least give them a little Christmas piñata. You smack something, and you get something sweet.” She winked.
“Well, you decide that,” Mrs. Claus said. “You’re the one delivering the toys.”
Santa Clara laughed and said, “Or I could play it by ear. See if they left a mojito for mama.”
“And how about something to eat before you start packing the sleigh?” said Mrs. Claus. “I could make some grilled cheese sandwiches. The elves like those. Or I have leftover bratwurst.”
“Oh, thanks. Before I left I had some arroz con pollo and papas rellenas. I’m still stuffed like a Christmas goose, ha ha! I’m ready to get started, and I’ll be warmer if I get to moving.”
With the help of the elves, the toys were all loaded into the sleigh, and as the sun went down, with a thick blanket over her lap, Santa Clara shouted, “Rubiroso, guide my sleigh tonight!” Then down the runway the reindeer trotted, as they slowly, magically lifted off the ground.
“Now Chulo! Now Paco!” she shouted at the reindeer. “Now Cabrón and Cariño! On Pollito, on Primo and Jefe!”
Mrs. Claus watched as they rose higher in the air, and she heard the voice of Santa Clara coming back through the cold air. “Merry Christmas to all, and Feliz Navidad a todos!”