(Recently won a little story contest with this… Merry Christmas, everyone!)
‘Twas the night before Christmas, the fireworks of excitement exploding in the dreams of every creature on Earth… There was no way of telling that this was no ordinary Christmas. Unless, of course, you know a Kringle or a Claus.
Santa- that is, St Nicholas- was sipping cocoa and tapping his foot at the head of the conference table. The others should be here by now, surely?
As if summoned, there was a chill and the fire suddenly blew out- a thump could be heard and slowly a figure emerged from the fireplace. He had great long horns protruding from his head, and his hooves clunked across the floor as he scraped his way to his seat. He paused, sneezed, and sat down.
‘Ho ho ho, Krampus. Cocoa?’
‘Ho ho, Nick. Please.’ The half-goat blew his nose. ‘I hate this flu season. ‘Tis the season to be jolly’, ha!’ -He honked indignantly- ‘Tis the season to make sure all your vaccinations are up to date.’
Suddenly, the chill that accompanied Krampus was overwhelmed by a new warmth, with the smell of spiced pastries invaded their senses.
The window blew open and an old, bedraggled figure flew in on her broomstick, headscarf wrapped tightly around her face to protect from the blizzard outside. Her face was old and wrinkled, as though she had spent a great many hours smiling as she was now. ‘Ho, miei amici!’ She quickly bent over and hugged each Kringle in turn. ‘Has it truly been so long since we spoke last?’
‘Ho ho, Befana. Lovely as ever.’ St Nicholas smiled as she sat beside him. Mrs Claus came in with a large tray of hot cocoa and shot him a look while the Italian Christmas witch sat beside him and smiled.
‘Maude! You look positively darling today! How long has it been? Aaahh!’ Befana leapt up and embraced her. Mrs Claus didn’t seem impressed.
‘300 years, give or take. If you’ll excuse me.’ Mrs Claus quickly withdrew, preferring the company of the reindeer to the insanity she knew was sure to ensue when St Nicholas revealed his news.
Soon the Yule Lads arrived, as well as Father Christmas from Britain, Grandfather Frost from Russia with his big clunking winter boots. The meeting commenced. It was Befana who spoke,
‘Nick, why have you called us all here so soon, just before the most important night of the year?’
‘Ah-CHOOOO!’ Wheezed Krampus. ‘Yes, what’s the meaning of this? We have things to do, it’s not easy tormenting naughty children with my health, Nick.’
St Nicholas’ normally red, jolly face was now grave and very nearly pale. ‘I’ve called you here to talk about something very deadly serious. I’m afraid we’re going to have to cancel Christmas this year…’