As Mummy tucked Katie into bed that night, she repeated yet again: “Now go to sleep, darling. If you lie awake he might not come, and then think how disappointed we would all be in the morning.”
“Yes, Mummy,” said Katie sleepily. But she had her fingers crossed, so it didn’t really count, did it?
She did go to sleep for a while, she really did, but when she heard the gentle clatter of hoofs on the roof, she woke up immediately and clambered out of bed, being ever so quiet so as not to wake her baby brother Billy. Then she snuck out of her bedroom door and tip-toed down the hallway. When she got near to the landing at the top of the stairs, she knelt down and then started to crawl, gently, gently, until she could just see through into the kitchen.
When they had moved into this new house, just a year ago, Katie had been really upset, and her Mummy had asked her why. “There’s no chimney in this house, how will he get in?” Katie had bawled. But her Mummy had explained to her that they would leave the kitchen window open just a squeak, and he would be able to get in there.
Now Katie crawled forward a little more to look between the bars of the handrail on the landing. She couldn’t quite see the kitchen window from here, but she could see the table, all loaded up.
There! There was a creaking sound, and moments later, she gave a gasp. There he was – the tall, fat figure looming over the table! She couldn’t quite see him perfectly, but it was him, it really was! She had to put her hand over her mouth to stop a squeal of excitement. He mustn’t know that she was here, or else he might go away without doing the presents.
The red-robed figure began to eat what had been left out for him. It was no wonder he was so fat, Katie thought, as he ate into all of the left-over turkey and ham, gulping it down greedily. Then it was the turn of the bowl of half-eaten trifle. Gulp! Gulp! It all vanished in moments. She gave a little giggle. If she ate like that, Daddy would growl at her so bad!
Then, at last, he came into the lounge room, and Katie crawled just a little further to see better, keeping as quiet as a mouse. As a very, very quiet mouse.
He strode into the lounge room, carrying a big sack swung over his back. She could see him better now, and he looked every bit as he did in all of the storybooks – the big, fat man in his bright red costume, with the black fur trimming his hood and sleeves, and his long black beard flowing down his chest.
He loomed over the presents all laid out under the tree. “Oh, oh, oh!” he said in a deep, booming voice. “What have we here?”
Then he pulled out a long list and consulted it. Oh, please, please, please, Katie thought, I’ve been ever so good!.
He bent down and picked up the awful purple sweater that Auntie Jessica had bought for her, and popped it into his sack. Yes! thought Katie in delight. Then the tacky plastic ironing set that came from Grandma. Into the sack, as Katie giggled and hugged herself. Then it was all the extra clothing that Billy had been given – all those endless jump-suits and little cardigans and booties. Into the sack!
Then it was Mummy and Daddy’s turn. The big fat man seemed to be chuckling as he picked up the book that would never be read, the CD of music which Daddy didn’t like, several pairs of socks, the badly-smelling perfume, the scented bath-bombs, the ugly vase Auntie Flora had made, the digital photo-frames. Into the sack with it all! Katie clapped her hands with joy, she couldn’t help herself.
At that the big man looked up and gave her a wink, hefted his loaded sack onto his back, and then he was gone, in two strides into the kitchen and out of the window.
Katie gave a contented sigh and crept back to bed, happy.
At last, she had really seen him. The Anti-Claus.
by David R Grigg
© Copyright David R Grigg 2012. All rights reserved.