Santa’s sneakiness.

I have, over the years, let the annual Christmas Santa-hunt become excessively complex. By last year it had expanded to include reindeer for dinner and the ransacking of the sleigh. Back to basics. Get Santa first and deal with the rest later.

After last year’s complete farce, I decided to keep things simple this year. None of us were on the roof but I left gin traps for the elves. These are tall cages with narrow entrances and a bottle and glass at the bottom. The elves get in, drink the gin, and then cannot find the way out. So if Santa deployed his army I was ready for them.

All the chimneys were capped except one. Oh, I know Santa isn’t stupid. He wasn’t going to take the only open chimney. One of the chimney caps was loose and that’s the one he would take. He did. So far, so good.

Click had fitted the chimney with a series of one-way trapdoors. Each one Santa passed through was sprung and would close behind him. That part worked too. We could hear them snap into place as he descended.

We waited at the fireplace with nets and powdered parsnip, which the Internet assured me was the only way to sedate Santa.

Everything went exactly as planned. The red figure landed in the fireplace, Click and Caligula threw the nets and I threw the powdered parsnip.

The parsnip powder exploded. The net caught fire and burned away in a flash. Red Stan roared at us and jumped from the fireplace, whacking his horns on the mantelpiece on the way.

“What the Hell are you playing at, Dume?”

“What am I playing at?” I waved away some of the smoke. “Why aren’t you Santa?”

“Santa? I met him on the roof.” Red Stan let his flames subside. “I wanted to watch you try to catch him but he said you weren’t bothering this year. So he kindly opened a chimney to let me get back into the warm.”

Well, the words I said were not fit for young Caligula’s ears so I was relieved to note he wrote them down instead. Finally I asked “So which chimney did he come down?”

“I don’t know.” Red Stan curled his lip. “I am not the boss of Santa. Nobody is.”

Through the castle echoed a hearty ‘Ho ho ho”. We ran to follow the sound, but too late. Caligula, Click and I had coal again. Which would at least have heated the castle somewhat if Caligula hadn’t eaten his and Red Stan hadn’t picked mine and Click’s up to examine it.

Next year, Santa, it’s personal.

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