It was Christmas Eve, and Teddy had snuck downstairs, to try and see Santa. He had been getting bad reports from schoolmates who no longer believed, so he had decided to check things out for himself.
But he was unable to stay awake as he had planned. He was lying on the sofa, curled up in a sound sleep, when a noise and a light woke him. Teddy rolled over, yawning hugely, and then his mouth snapped shut, his eyes opening wide, as he found himself staring at the Jolly Gent himself.
Santa was sitting in a comfortable armchair and staring at the young werewolf. Teddy scrambled to his feet and timidly approached Santa. He looked at the reality of the image that he had seen so often over his short lifetime. He looked at the white haired, white bearded man in his red suit.
The man looked at the hesitant boy and said, in a deep rumbling voice, his belly shaking with silent laughter. “You may pull my beard, to prove that it's real. That's what most children who see me want to do.”
Teddy tentatively reached out and pulled on the pure white beard. When he felt the silky softness under his fingers stay in place when he gave it a gentle yank, his face lit up, a huge smile on his face, and he climbed onto Santa's lap.
Teddy looked around but he didn't see any bag. Worried, he said, “Didn't you bring me anything? Was I bad?”
The deep voice rumbled, reassuring the little boy, “I don't need a bag here, Teddy, I've already given you your Christmas present. My presents don't always end up under the tree, and they aren't always given out on Christmas night.”
His eyes round, Teddy asked, “What did you give me?”
Santa told him, eyes twinkling, “The ability to control your changes, Teddy. Wasn't that the thing you most wanted in the whole world?”
Teddy suddenly was very still, and he looked at Santa in wonder. That indeed was the thing he had most desired. “But I didn't put it on my list!” protested Teddy.
One plump finger touched him on the chest. Santa told him, “I see what's in your heart, Teddy, not what's on paper.”
Teddy wrapped his arms around Santa's neck and said, “Thank you Santa, thank you very much!”
“You're very welcome, young Teddy, but now its past time for little boys to be in bed. Upstairs with you, and sleep well.” He said, he putting Teddy on the floor, giving him a little push, to get him started. Teddy stopped at the foot of the stairs, and waved at Santa and blissfully made his way up the stairs to the room he shared with his older brother, Robby. He didn't even notice that Robby wasn't in his bed when he climbed into bed, and pulled the covers up to his chin.
Robby and Hary walked down the stairs. Robby picked up the milk and cookies that had been left out for Santa as he passed the dining room table. He said, “Hello, Santa,” echoed by his mother.
Robby offered the plate and the milk to the jolly fat man sitting in the armchair, who passed his hand over the top of the glass of milk and the plateful of cookies, and the food just disappeared.
Santa said to them, “Hello, young Robby and Hary, it's nice that I can talk to werewolves, I love children but they don't really understand that I am the Spirit of Christmas. I'm glad that I could keep young Teddy's belief alive for at least one more year.” as they sat on the sofa facing him.
He gave a sigh telling them, “The children who believe, bring me back each year for a very short time and on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day the belief is so great that I'm actually tangible. I can only visit a few hundred children in that period, those that are teetering on the fence of belief and disbelief, and need to believe for just a little bit longer. I regret that only occasionally can I visit a child who really needs me, but by visiting the others I keep their belief alive, and often they grow up and provide the real help to the world that I can only provide in spirit.”
And as he began to fade from sight, his deep voice no longer reflecting on things he could not control booms out, “Merry Christmas. Ho, ho, ho!!” and upstairs Teddy turned over in his sleep, a smile on his face.