It was an eventful evening St. Patrick’s night at the local tavern. The patrons were mostly having green beer and singing their Irish songs. It was a typical holiday for most of them.
That is,except for Jaime. Her good time with her friends wasn’t what she expected. They had long lost their senses to alcohol and had left her alone at the bar. Not feeling too much like partying, she stuck to her soft drink. She sat there and watched the strangers around her sing and dance. She wondered if she should have left with her friends. Or if she was right to stay behind.
“Good evening, Jaime.” She was startled to see an old man sitting next to her in a red suit with white trim. She was startled by his appearance. She was facing the entrance and never saw him enter. He looked familiar. But, she couldn’t picture from where.
“Hi.” was all the answer she gave. The shock of him appearing out of no where still had her wondering.”
“Where are your friends? I thought you were here to celebrate St. Patrick’s with some friends from nursing school.”
Jaime was stunned the stranger new so much about her. But, at the same time. She felt she could trust him. He felt so much like a Grandfather. It was a strange feeling. “ They left me to go partying on their own.”
“They invited you to their party and left you alone?”
“Yup.” She watched him pull a notebook from his pocket and jot down a few notes and quickly put the book away before anyone could read it.
“What’s that?” She asked curiously.
“Nothing to concern yourself with. It’s just a list of people to keep an eye on.”
“Well…” He said it slowly trying to pick his words carefully. “ I wouldn’t want to waste time with the troublemakers in my line of work.”
“What line of work is that?”
The white bearded man paused as if he didn’t want to answer. But, finally replied “Gift distribution specialist.”
She looked at him like he was out of his mind” You sound like Santa Claus.”
“I get that a lot.” He said laughing out loud.
Jaime thought he even laughed like Santa. But, before she could comment. The old timer waved to the bartender. “Joe ! Grab me a light beer and a frozen daiquiri for my young friend.”
“How did you know what I wanted.” Jaime asked the old man. He seem to know everything about her. And it was starting to worry her.
“I keep good records.” He pauses “ At least for the most part. I’ve made a few mistakes over the years.”
Jaime looked at the old timer. “Everyone makes mistakes from time to time.”
The man looked at her silently for a moment to collect his thoughts. “Jaime. I’ve made a terrible mistake and I feel awful I didn’t discover it sooner.
The young girl was truly perplexed by what was going on. Before she could ask what was going on, the man continued his unexpected confession.
“I’ve been delivering the wrong presents to you for the last few years. You have the exact same name as another girl in Ireland. You’ve been getting the gifts she’s been asking for. While she’s been getting your presents.”
Jaime head clearing from the confusion, came to the shocking conclusion. “ You delivered those sweaters?”
He hung his head slightly. Embarrassed over the mistake. “and just about every sweater you’ve complained about over the last five years.
“You’re Santa Claus?” She said it with the excitement of a newfound discovery that she couldn’t believe herself.”
Without saying a word to the surprised young woman, he waves his hand over the beer glass before him. Instantly, it changes from its natural color to a shamrock green.
“That’s better. Isn’t it Jaime? After all, It’s St. Patrick’s Day.”
She took a look at the newly transformed beer and the man. She didn’t notice it before. But, minus the fur trim, his outfit was similar to what Santa wore at Christmas time.
He saw her studying his outfit and realized it was his traditional red and white. He snapped his fingers and his clothes changed to a shamrock green to match his beer.
“That’s better. I have to stay in tune with the holiday.” He took a long sip of the beer and set it down on the counter.
He saw the girl was shocked that Santa was drinking a beer. He leaned over closer to her. “Relax Jaime. We’re all adults here. All the children are in bed. My reputation with them won’t be soiled. Besides, It would be an awful dull life if the Mrs. and I did nothing for Valentine’s Day.
Still not believing what she was seeing, She decided to expand on the conversation. “Why do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? I thought you only worked around Thanksgiving and Christmas.”
“ My dear Jaime. It’s a long year with many holidays in between.” He paused briefly to get his thoughts together. “To many people. I’m Saint Nicolas. It’s only fitting that I celebrate the holidays of the other Saints.
On the lighter side. The Elves who work for me believe the Irish leprechauns are distant cousins and that this holiday was made for them and all the tiny folks to celebrate their good fortunes.”
Santa took another sip from his beer and leaned a little closer as if to whisper a secret. “ Haven’t you ever wondered what I do during the other eleven months of the year. It only appears that I work one day a year. There’s a lot more to my life then just a single holiday.”
He took another sip of his beer and stood up. Leaving his glass on the counter half full. “I’d best not do too much. It’s a long drive back north from here and I don’t want to get pulled over for driving a sleigh drunk.”
Jaime laughed out loud at the notion. Joe the bartender looked at her.
“What’s so funny?”
She quickly composed herself from the sudden outburst. “Santa said he didn’t want to be pulled over for driving a sleigh drunk.”
The bartender took her drink. “ That’s enough for you. You sit right there. I’ll call for a cab to take you home.”
She looked over for Santa to confirm her story and he was gone. At the counter where Santa’s glass was sitting was an envelope with her name on it.
Jaime opened it and found a brief letter and a Visa gift card. The paper was Christmas themed with a St. Patrick’s sticker in the corner. The letter simply read:
My apologies for the last few Christmas’ gone wrong at my hand. This card will help take care of your replacement wardrobe. The card’s for $200.00. But, don’t worry if you go over by a few dollars. You’re covered.
PS: Don’t get too ambitious shopping. You’ll get a bill for next Christmas. HO! HO! HO!
She put the card and letter in her purse.
The bartender announced that her cab was here. Even though she was no where near drunk. She played along and left in the cab.
When she got home, she took her purse out to pay the driver. The driver shook her off.
“Don’t bother. Trip’s been paid for. Plus a second trip for tomorrow to pick up your car. Just call when you’re ready.” He gives her a card with the phone number.
Jaime looked surprised. But then remembered the events of the past hour.
“Who paid for you?” She asked. But already knew the answer.
“Some old guy who looked like Santa in a Green suit.” Who is he? You’re grandpa?”
“Would you believe me if I told you he’s Santa Claus.”
Jaime quickly realized the driver was no believer. “I have enough people telling me I’m crazy for believing in leprechauns. So, don’t start preaching to me about Santa Claus. Besides, you’re drunk and hallucinating, according to Joe.”
Jaime didn’t respond as the cabbie got in the car. She was distracted by the faint sound of sleigh bells in the distance. She smiled to herself and her good fortune as she watch the cab drive away.