was an ominous knock at the door. Santa didn't move. He looked
like he was about to cry.
'There's no point in hiding, they know you're here' Mrs Santa
said, examining her knitting for mistakes.
Santa still didn't move.
Mrs Santa rested the knitting in her lap and lowered her half-moon
'Come on, it can't be that bad, can it?'
The knocking continued. Knock, knock, knock. Santa buried his
head in his hands. The letterbox opened and a mouth appeared.
'Delivery for a Mr Christmas' it said, and swung shut again.
Santa cursed and went to the door. He stared at the box with
disdain, signed for it and slammed the door shut. He put the box
on the ground and went back to his seat.
'Well, aren't you going to open it?' Mrs Santa prompted him.
'It might be nice.'
'It's nice like it is, like it's always been.'
'Don't be such a misery guts. You haven't got much choice now
anyway. You better check it fits. I might not have time to get
the alterations done otherwise.'
He scowled at it, huffed, sighed, paced up and down, rubbed his
forehead, stroked his beard, opened and shut his eyes, and there
it still stood, refusing to go away.
'It won't go away' Mrs Santa confirmed for him.
'I know that' Santa snapped back.
'Might as well get it over with then.'
Santa stood up, walked twice around the box, pulled his trousers
up so his socks were on show underneath, bent down and examined
it carefully. It was labelled as 'New Work Uniform', and under
a contents subheading '1 x Santa Suit'. He imagined what it might
contain, and shuddered.
He'd been to the conference headed up by HR earlier in the year
about adjustments to health and safety regulations in the industry,
and even agreed to some of the proposed changes.
He was still recovering from a back injury sustained a few years
ago from a poorly packaged present sack, so could understand the
need for a few minor amendments. He didn't however believe his
uniform needing changing, regardless of the sometimes perilous
conditions he was asked to work in.
'It's what defines me' he argued, but to no avail. The changes
had to go ahead, otherwise the whole operation faced a complete
out of our hands, and with the regulatory boards now' HR chorused
The marketing department promised him they'd create something
special and innovative, and all agreed it was time to put a modern
spin on an old tradition. They wouldn't listen when he told them
a tradition doesn't need to be modernised, that's why it's a tradition.
He kept up with some of the early emails, and then got disheartened
and just deleted them after that. Mrs Santa noticed he was still
staring at the box.
'Do you want me to do it?' She said.
Santa looked at her and nodded. He was welling up.
She put down her knitting and crawled across to him. She moved
the box in front of her.
'Ready?' she asked.
'Ready' he said and closed his eyes, and she opened it.
'Well it's not too bad, I guess' she said unconvincingly, as
she pulled it out.
When she'd made sure she'd removed everything from the box, she
laid it out on the ground and squeezed Santa's hand.
'You can open your eyes now' she said.
Santa opened one, realised he couldn't see much out of it and
opened the other.
'Oh dear' he said and put his hand to his mouth.
'Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.'
The hat was still red, although it was now a UV stabilised high
density polyethylene substitute, with rain channel and webbed
suspension harness, and not a bobble in sight. The boots were
similar, but came with an oil repellent and chemical resistant
sole, and a 200J steel toe cap.
Mrs Santa squeezed them to check their sturdiness, and nodded
gravely when she couldn't make them flex. The trousers although
still red, had lost their white trim, and were now made of rip
proof cordura fabrics and not Egyptian cotton.
They also had luminous neon piping and knee pads.
The black leather belt had gone and been replaced by a utility
Mrs Santa held up the contents in turn. Screwdriver, tape-measure,
12 in 1 multi-function tool, pen, pencil, set square and sticky
Where there had once been a beautiful red button up jacket, there
was now a black Kevlar windjammer, with fleece lining, two way
adjustable hood, and fully detachable high visibility vest.
Mrs Santa read the enclosed leaflet.
'These items all pass new industry safety requirements. Happy
Santa dropped to his knees.
Mrs Santa could see the tears forming.
She put a supportive hand on his shoulder and said 'I'll make
a cup of tea.'