• We hope you enjoy our final edition of The Wred Feather Newspaper for the 2023-24 School Year!

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Santa’s Hat: A Christmas Mystery

A cheesy, satirical yet peculiar Christmas short story taking place in the jolly town of Noel Hollow- and in the North Pole. After Santa’s hat mysteriously goes missing, a middle school girl finds it underneath her tree on Christmas Day, without the knowledge of how or why it is there.
Santas Hat: A Christmas Mystery


Noel Hollow


The steps of Esther’s front porch were iced, slippery, and cold- upon taking her dog out for a walk, she made the mistake of lazily going out without shoes and immediately came back inside her house to wrap her dark blue winter coat around her and slip on her boots. Chip, her Bull Terrier, was quick to run outside, and Esther rushed to keep up, afraid the leash handle would slip out of her hands. 

Flurries fell from the sky, blanketing the ground and roofs of the nearby houses in a pure, radiating white. Esther made her slow way down the icy steps, eyes watching the brick house across from her own. She gazed down at her watch. 3:30.

As they had planned, the door to the distant house opened,  and out came Charlie Partridge, hands in the pockets of his green winter coat.

A smile made its way onto Esther’s face as she crossed the street to greet him. “I was worried you’d come out a minute or two late.” 

“Even if I did, would it matter?” 

“Not much.” She chuckled, and the two began to walk side-by-side, her dog roaming the snowy ground where he could. “December’s gone by so fast, hasn’t it? Christmas Eve is already tomorrow.” 

“I could do without the reminder. Everybody in Noel Hollow loves to speak all month about it, every year,” Charlie said with feigned annoyance. 

“Can you blame them? It’s the best day of the year.” 

“That’s what you think.” 

The two turned a corner to walk another neighborhood, the sounds of the cars on Main Street blaring in the distance.

“Sometimes I can’t understand you, Charlie. What’s there not to love about Christmas?” Esther asked.

“It’s not that I don’t like it, it’s just..” he shrugged. “Well, stories get old after a while.” 

“Stories?” Esther raised an eyebrow. “What’s that supposed to mean?” 

Charlie opened his mouth as if to speak, but changed his mind. “… Nevermind. I know you love Christmas, Esther, so I won’t disregard that.” 

Esther decided not to speak on it anymore. They walked for some minutes more, broaching the topics of school and the presents they wished to get for Christmas. For Charlie, it was the regular things- toys, games, books. But Esther’s main wish was something different, something she knew she would likely never be able to get.

As silence fell, she turned her head upward to admire the way the snowflakes danced in the air and fell upon her reddish-brown hair. Esther raised a palm to allow the snow crystals to fall into her hands, grinning. Her eyes then glided downward to her wrist, where her black watch read the numbers, 3:49.

Esther let her arm down, turning her head to Charlie. “We should head back right about now. I promised my mom I’d be home by four.” 

Charlie nodded. “Alright. I’ll go with you.” 

The walk home was short, and Esther managed to find her way back to her front door at exactly four o’clock. Charlie tapped her shoulder before she opened it. 

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” He said, mocking a salute before he made his way down the slippery steps of Esther’s porch.

She waved her hand in the air, before withdrawing it and opening the door to her house. She was greeted by her Christmas tree straight away- towering in the corner of the foyer, shiny blue and red ornaments adorning it. 

And tomorrow morning, beautifully wrapped presents filled with all of her wishes would nestle beneath it.


North Pole


It was the morning of Christmas Eve, and Santa Clause found that his hat was not on his head.

Being a magical object, it can be tracked by the last person who touched it, Santa awoke to the sudden unawareness of its location and terror struck him. 

Panic broke out as soon as the word did in the workshop. The elves, as always, continued with their toy-making and were doing their best not to stress about the loss of Santa’s signature, magical hat. It was one of the things that made Santa Santa, after all. 

So when Santa appeared atop the balcony that looked out upon the extraordinary workshop, staring at all of the elven faces, he put on a brave face. 

“Christmas is tonight,” said he, loudly. “And I am Santa Clause. Now- what is the most important aspect of being Santa Clause? Answer me this, please.” 

An elf raised her hand. “Ivy, yes?”

Ivy spoke timidly. “Deliver presents to children?-” 

“Wrong,” Santa interrupted. He sighed deeply, before speaking again. “Okay, not wrong. However,” a laugh made its way into his voice, “as you all know, I appreciate my image very much. And being without my hat, I feel.. incomplete.” 

Elves in the audience made sounds of pity, and Santa raised his palm to the air to quiet them. “Oh, oh, no need for that.” He paused. “Yet still, I have never, ever been separated from my hat. Without it, I am not Santa Clause- merely his half. Which is why I must take back my image. I must take back my hat before nightfall!” The distress turned to encouraging cheers, and Santa stepped closer to the edge of the balcony. “The children shall never be rid of their Christmas symbol. I now order all elves to perform a search, and we shall find my hat before my sleigh is to take off!” 

The workshop was filled with confidence and shouts of joy. Santa stepped back, edging towards his office, wearing a proud expression. “Christmas will go on. It shall- and the children shall be joyful!” 


“Ginger Sugarplum.” 

Mrs. Clause checked off the name on the list, Santa lounging in a snowy, white chair behind her. “Ginger, you’re in charge of making toys. Next.” 

“Holly Eggnog.”

“Preparing the sleigh. Next.” 

“Eli Gumdrop.” 

Mrs. Clause looked up from her list. “Eli?” 

Santa grinned and stepped forward. “You, my good dear elf, are to be my right-hand-man in the investigation to find my hat!”

“..Me, Santa?” A confused expression appeared on the short elf’s face. 

“Why, of course!” Santa kneeled to be at eye level with Eli, patting him on the shoulder of his green tunic. “You are one of my most trusted elves, Eli. None of them make the toys as good as you. I have no doubt in my mind that you would do whatever it takes, to make the image of Santa great again!” 

Eli slowly smiled, taking off his pointy, verdant hat and bowing his head in gratitude. “Santa, I will not let you down.”

Santa mimicked the expression warmly. “And I would never think for a second that you would. Now then! Up you go.” Eli stood up, and Santa immediately spun himself around. “My dear assistant, let us begin our work.” 

Mrs. Clause narrowed her eyes. “Very well, Santa. I’ll just finish up the rest of the job divisions by myself.” She frowned.


Noel Hollow


At Noel Hollow Middle School, the ceilings of the sixth grade hallways were adorned with Christmas streamers, and placements of picture, bells, and trees on the cream colored walls. No matter where you went in this town, festivities would be everywhere- and as it was Christmas Eve, the day would revolve around them. 

Esther left her fourth hour class and headed into her fifth- entering the mathematics classroom where paper snowflakes and festive posters enhanced the normally plain area. 

Mr. Holiday was at his desk, sorting through a number of papers that Esther presumed were part of a Christmas-themed lesson. She went to find her seat. 

Natasha Peters was in it already. 

Clearing her throat and trying to keep her cool, Esther approached the brunette girl, busy talking to a friend that regularly sat in front of Esther. “Natasha, you’re in my seat.” 

Her head turned, amber eyes facing Esther’s hazel ones. A small, smug smile appeared on Natasha’s face. “Sorry, Esther. Won’t happen again.” She stood up slowly, walking past her and back to her regular seat. 

Despite that smile that irritated her immensely, it was nothing. Not a big deal, Esther told herself. She sat down without another word. 

Mr. Holiday walked in the front of the class, beginning to pass out papers onto each desk. “School is out early today for Christmas Eve, so feel free to use the entirety of the class to work on this-” he eyed the assignment. “..Christmas-themed word search. Here you are.” 

“A word search?” Esther picked it up, staring at it as Charlie in the seat next to her had already gotten to work. 

“Seems fun to me,” He mumbled, having already found a word or two. His pencil danced across the paper. “..’Snowman.” 

Esther blurred his voice out of her head, instead turning to look at Natasha. It was weird. No matter where she sat in the classroom, people always seemed to want to talk to her. She seemed approachable, even sweet. Yet anybody that got close to her would know she was the exact opposite. 

Esther looked away. It was Christmas, for Santa’s sake, and school was almost over. She shouldn’t find petty things to get irritated about. 


Before long, Esther found herself in her last period, working until the final bell rang. Afterwards, she and Charlie, who luckily shared that class with her, walked side-by-side to their neighborhood. 

“You ready for Santa to come tonight?” Esther was practically bouncing on every step. 

“Ah.. Yeah. I am excited.” Charlie said with much less enthusiasm than she had hoped for. Couldn’t be helped. “I bet you’re expecting that bracelet under your tree, aren’t you?” 

Esther slowed her steps at the memory. She had spoken of it to not many others- and Charlie was one of them.

 It was the friendship bracelet that commemorated her and Natasha’s old friendship.

Yes, she had hurt Esther. Yes, Esther practically detested her now. But their relationship had been real, so real, and she didn’t want to forget that. But the bracelet was lost.  “About that… I don’t think Santa’s going to get me that present.” 

“You don’t?” Charlie raised an eyebrow. “Why not? You’ve been good, right?” 

“I know you haven’t.” That got a laugh out of him. She sighed. “But still.. I lost it. Santa can’t just make it magically appear, can he?” 

Charlie shrugged. “I think you’d deserve it. You’re my best friend.” 

“Right. But am I Santa’s best friend? I didn’t think so.” She groaned. “Then again, I think he’d be a pretty great friend.” 

“You’re way cooler than Santa Clause, Esther.” 

She nudged him in the elbow. “I wish.”


North Pole


“Where do you suppose we start, Santa?” Eli asked his employer, who was seated on a leather chair, facing a cozy fireplace and a window to the ever-snowing North Pole.

“Interrogations.” Santa began to slowly nod his head. “..Yes, yes, interrogations. We shall interrogate the suspects!” 

“Suspects?” Eli tilted his head in puzzlement. 

“Why, of course.” Santa stood up, facing his right-hand elf. “For I think that somebody has stolen it.”

“Stolen??” Eli echoed, horrified at the prospect. “Who would do such a thing?” 

“I don’t know.” Santa looked off into the window. “I doubt it to be one of my elves, but we must check anyway. Oh, it may be a beast, or a creature of some sort. Perhaps the abominable snowman.”

“Abominable snowman??” 

Santa chuckled softly, turning to Eli. “You needn’t sound so frightened, Eli. No, you must feel brave. Confident that we shall figure out who has performed this unforgivable, heinous crime.. and punish them accordingly.”

Per Santa’s words, Eli immediately tightened his jaw and narrowed his eyes. “Yes, sir.” 

“Now, as for where we shall start..” Santa put a gloved hand to his bearded chin, hair as white as snow. “Eli, I want you to go to the workshop first. Ask around, and make a list of suspects for me.” 

“As you wish, Santa.” Eli lowered his head, then made his way out the door.

Santa huffed to himself. “Eight hours until the sleigh leaves..” 

Meanwhile, Eli Gumdrop had made his way into the workshop, immediately surrounded by many other elves of his height and garments, though some were colored in jolly reds and golds.

Eli cleared his throat and approached a female elf, black hair tucked under a pointy violet hat. “Ivy Tinsel?”

She startled, her eyes drifting towards Eli. “What did I do? Is Santa angry-”
He groaned. “No, you did nothing wrong. Ivy, I need information. When was the last time you saw Santa’s hat?” 

“Oh… Santa’s hat, yes, of course..” Ivy mumbled. “Yesterday, Santa waved goodbye to me and all the other elves before he turned in for the night. He wore his hat then. This morning we all woke up in a panic, upon hearing about its disappearance.”

“I see, I see..” Eli flicked out a decorated pen from the chest pocket of his tunic and a small notepad. He began to write. “Do you have any suspects as to who may have stolen it?” 

Ivy’s face and voice hardened. “..The abominable snowman.”

Santa thought so as well, Eli thought. “Why do you say that?” 

“Who else could it be? We elves love our job here,” she explained, a shiver running through her voice as she continued. “Oh dear, oh dear.. and the Abominable Snowman is the most evil creature of them all!” 

Eli spoke boredly. “Ivy, calm down.” 

“He stole it! I’m certain!” 

Eli walked away with a sigh, and approached a different group of elves who appeared to be gossiping. 

“I heard one of the elves disappeared last night after eight o’clock!”

“Oh? Who?” 

“They said that it was-” 

Eli cleared his throat. “Holly, Ginger, Eldan, Pax, I must speak with you all.” 

The elves turned to him. Ginger, the one who initiated the whispers, smiled brightly. “Ahh, Eli! To what do we owe the honor?” 

“I need to know,” Eli looked down at his notepad for a moment, then back towards his fellow workers. “any potential suspects for who stole Santa’s hat.”

“Suspects? Pfft, that’s easy,” Eldan said. “It was an elf, obviously. There’s a traitor!”

“A.. traitor?” Eli raised an eyebrow. “Who of us elves could possibly want to steal Santa’s hat?” 

“Maybe one who’s tired of making toys,” Holly murmured. 

“Or one who could be angry at Santa,” Pax added.

Eli raised a palm. “Stop right there. Too much information. All I’m here to know are specific suspects. Do you guys have any, or..?”

As his voice trailed off, the four elves stood there with nothing to say. Pax leaned in and whispered, “Maybe it’s Mrs. Clause.” 

Eli scoffed in disappointment and walked away.


North Pole


Santa was in his office, thinking intently in his chair, as he knew that something in this situation was not right. 

He couldn’t put his finger on it, but he knew he was missing something. Upon asking Mrs. Clause, she provided zero advice. 

“Perhaps you’re just anxious, darling,” She insisted.

He knew it was something else. 

And yet, despite his and the elves’ efforts, Santa found himself being led to his sleigh, without a hat, without feeling like himself. 

Santa sighed, sitting himself down in the vehicle. The nine reindeer were already strapped to the front of the sleigh, and his sack, packed-full of presents for children all across the world, was in the back. Christmas was here, and yet he did not feel particularly merry. 

He clutched the reins, leading the sleigh outside and into the snowy night. Each elf was already waiting outside, formed in an audience. Despite his loss, Santa put on a smiling face. “On Dasher, on Dancer, now Prancer and Vixen!” The sleigh began to levitate. “On, Comet! On, Cupid! On Donner and Blitzen!” With that, Santa’s sleigh began to ride into the night, elves cheering after him as it soared. 

It was Christmas, and yet Santa’s image was incomplete.


Noel Hollow


Christmas Eve had gone by quickly for Esther- and she found herself in her bed that night, dreaming of all the wondrous presents she would receive the following morning. And when morning came, Esther rushed down to the Christmas Tree as fast as she possibly could.

Presents. Loads and loads of presents. A bright smile spread across Esther’s face as she immediately began to rip off the elegant wrappings of each gift. 

Toys. Books. Accessories. Each new gift an improvement from the last, Esther couldn’t help but laugh in sheer happiness. She continued, until there was one box left- and she begged all higher powers in the world for the chance that it might be the bracelet.

However, when Esther placed her fingers upon the silver and red wrapping, beginning to tear it apart, she found not the bracelet, but something quite strange instead.

A hat. A Santa hat. 

No, not just a Santa hat. Santa’s hat. 

It looked as it always did in television, books, and pictures- a bright red, with a stripe of white at the bottom and a single white pom-pom where it ended. Something was different about it, however. There was a magical aura emitting from it- a smell of charcoal, and a feeling of Christmas spirit. 

Esther took it in her hands. The faintest touch felt powerful- like this hat was a creation from another Universe. 

“What’ve you got there, Esther?” a voice said behind her.

She startled, to find her mother smiling, looking over her shoulder. Esther laughed awkwardly, hiding the hat in her arms. “Morning! It’s just a cool present, Mom.”

Mr. Holiday had encouraged the class the prior day to bring in a present for showing, and Esther immediately knew what she chose.

All throughout the day, as she wore the hat on her head, people seemed to stare. A lot. For most hats, you feel them on your head for a little while, until their presence seems to almost fade- but Esther felt it every second, its heavy weight despite its softness, the powerful feeling it gave her. 

Esther sat in her seat during fifth hour, Charlie next to her.

He tilted his head, seeming almost in a daze. “Esther, that hat..” 

She grinned widely and faced him. “It’s his, Charlie. It’s Santa’s hat.”

As if baffled by those words, Charlie shook his head and seemed to snap out of it. “No way. Impossible. Not believing that for a second.” 

Esther chuckled, taking it off her head and handing it to him. “Come on. Here, feel it.” 

Charlie grimaced, reaching over to touch it. His face changed in an instant. Disbelief turned to something of surprise, and almost joy. “..That’s weird. It feels almost-”

“Let me see.” 

“Hey- Stop!” Esther leaned over just as Natasha Peters snatched the hat out of Charlie’s hands. Natasha held it up, laughing. 

“Awesome,” She commented, her eyes glistening as her gaze tore into the hat. 

“That’s mine,” Esther said in a low voice, standing up to face her.
“Where’d you get it?” Natasha followed up, her gaze so intense on the item it was almost as if she didn’t hear Esther. “I want one.” 

Esther couldn’t hold back anymore. She took a step forward and grabbed Natasha’s shoulders, shoving her. “Give that back.”

Natasha was imbalanced, falling onto the ground on her back. She scowled. “You crazy-” 

Esther seized hold of the hat, clutching it tight in her arms. Immediately, she felt safe again- content.

Mr. Holiday entered the room, taking in the scene. Both girls turned nervously towards their teacher. 

Mr. Holiday’s voice was firm. “Natasha, Esther, stay after class.”


North Pole


Santa couldn’t hold back his suspicions anymore, so he approached Ginger Sugarplum as they were in the workshop, working away at cleaning the extra parts of a completed and delivered toy train. Being the day after Christmas, all elves were piled together in the workshop, putting away supplies and excess tools. 

Ginger, who was already stuffing wood into a plastic bag, seemed to do so with much more angst and intensity as Santa approached. 

“Ginger,” He started. 

Ginger stopped, looking up to meet Santa’s eyes, hidden behind glasses and a long beard. “Yes, Santa?” 

Santa took a step forward, whispering under his breath. “Hear me, because I trust you. But I don’t trust this situation. I have a feeling it’s a lot more complicated than it seems.” 

Ginger raised an eyebrow and tilted their head, a nervous smile on their face. “What situation?” 

“Why, the disappearance of my hat, of course.” Santa placed a hand against his forehead, pacing back and forth. “I feel as if I am missing something in this dilemma. But what? What could it possibly be?” 

Ginger seemed to ponder something, long and hard, before they spoke quietly. “..Eli disappeared the night before your hat went missing, sir.” 

Santa stopped in place. 

He slowly turned to face Ginger. “Pardon?” 

They gulped, proceeding on. “A few of my elf friends reported to me that they saw him, sneaking away during time in the workshop, and to the sleigh room, carrying a present…”

Santa’s eyes widened. “Ginger, what was in that present?”

He didn’t give them a chance to respond before storming off in search of the now-revealed traitorous elf.


Noel Hollow


“I’m sorry,” Esther blurted out before she could think about it.

She and Natasha were seated in chairs outside of the principal’s office, waiting to be let in. To put it bluntly, they had a chat with Mr. Holiday after class, and it ended badly. 

Natasha turned to face her. “What?”

“We used to be best friends, and now, we’re not. But I haven’t even tried to accept that. I’ve just been villainizing you, and you don’t deserve it,” Esther replied. “I’m sorry.” 

Natasha didn’t speak for a long time. She softly said, “I kept the bracelet, Esther.”

Esther’s face changed into a relieved smile, having expected a rude comment. “You did?”

Natasha nodded slowly. “It’s in my bedroom drawer. I didn’t want to let go of it, because.. I know we’ve had troubles, Esther, but I really did appreciate our friendship, when we had it. I didn’t want to forget.” 

Esther’s eyes nearly threatened to tear up at this conversation, but she persevered. And out her mouth came a lie, out too soon before she could take it back, as usual. “I kept mine too.” 

Shockingly, a genuine smile came up on Natasha’s face. Even more shocking, she reached forward and hugged Esther. The other girl slowly did the same. 

“I miss you, Esther,” Natasha said. “I’m sorry for being such a jerk to you.” 

Her words were warming Esther’s heart, but she had just made a huge lie. How was she supposed to take it back?

Natasha edged out of the embrace. “Hey, tomorrow, I’ll bring my bracelet. You bring yours. It’ll be like.. a reunion of sorts.”

Esther put on a fake smile. “Sounds great.” 

Underneath her words, she secretly longed for a miracle to happen- anything so that she could see that bracelet again.


North Pole


Santa found Eli quickly, at the other side of the workshop. Though he expected rage to boil through him, all he found was disappointment.

Eli’s back was turned, and he was facing a couple of elves whom he was having a conversation with. 

“Yeah, Eli. I heard Santa appointed you to search for whoever stole his hat?”

Eli sighed deeply. Santa now knew his emotions were feigned. “Ah, do I feel guilty. The culprit was not found out in time, and I let down Santa.” 

The elves surrounding Eli made sounds of pity, but quieted down when Santa approached Eli at his back. 

“I think you have some explaining to do, Eli Gumdrop.”

Eli turned around quickly, his small face contorting from shock, to something akin to anger, to a neutral, smiling expression. “Santa! Have you found your hat?-”

“Where is it?” 

Eli’s smile faded. “What?” 

“Where is my hat, Eli?” Santa repeated. 

There was no response. It seemed as if Eli was gauging whether or not to lie or tell the truth. Then, he laughed. “Santa, I’m helping you look for it, remember? I’m afraid I still don’t know where it is. Seems to me, we’re just going to have to qu-” 

Ginger appeared before Santa, practically hiding behind his big frame. Eli’s lips firmed. “What did Ginger tell you?” 

“The truth. Enough lying, Eli.” Santa’s voice threatened to rise, so he paused, and allowed himself a moment to take a breath. He then spoke softly, and with as little anger as possible. “I know you’re the one who sent it away. I’ve put the pieces together, and everything makes sense now- you took my hat, wrapped it in a present, and sent it to my sleigh- it is somewhere out there, in the world now. But why, my dear elf? Why would you do this to me?”

“Because I don’t want to be an elf anymore!” Eli shouted. His sudden change in tone shocked the others around him. Elves that before were huddled around him began to slowly back away, as if afraid. Eli looked around at the impact his words left, but it was too late to take them back. He looked into Santa’s eyes. “I know you value your image, Santa, so I thought if your hat were never to be seen again, you’d have to stop being Santa. And then I- I could go live the life of my dreams, free from this dull workplace of making toys, every single day!” He took a step forward, his teeth gritted from anger. “I wanted Christmas to be over.” 

Elves nearby gasped in horror at this revelation, but Santa allowed himself to stay calm. “Whatever the case, those plans are foiled now, Eli. You have one chance, and one chance only to tell me the hat’s location.” 

Eli seemed to contemplate whether to tell him, before he let up. “The location became lost to me. A human must’ve found and touched it. But.. last I checked, it was in a small house, in the city of Noel Hollow in the United States of America.”

“Noel Hollow, you say,” Santa repeated. “I will have you tell me the exact address.” 

“Whatever,” Eli grumbled. “You should know that there’s no guarantee your precious little hat is even in that house anymore. Bet some human took it and threw it in the dumpst-” 

“Eldan, Pax. Get the desired information out of his mouth, then send this elf away with his belongings.” Santa turned his back to the traitor. “At least one of your wishes will be granted, Eli. You shall henceforth never be allowed to step into my workshop again, and be sentenced to roam the North Pole for however long you live.” 

Eli’s eyes narrowed, but he said no more before both his arms were taken by the two elves. He seemed not to struggle. 

Santa relaxed his posture as soon as he could. “..Perhaps I was a little harsh on him.” 

“Please, not at all, sir. He tried to end Christmas!” Ginger insisted. 

“He did, didn’t he.” Santa frowned, staring at Eli as his image slowly faded behind closed doors. “Goodbye, Eli Gumdrop. You were, once, a good elf.”


Noel Hollow


Esther came home from school in a good mood, albeit slightly bitter, knowing she’d be going to school the following day without the bracelet. At least she had her friendship back. 

Upon telling Charlie, he was skeptical at first- as he tends to be with things- but he accepted, and congratulated Esther for her old-new friend. 

Esther tucked herself underneath the covers of her bed with a sigh. It was not worth worrying about, the missing bracelet. 

Despite that, it still hurt, not being able to hold it in her hands. 

She slept. 


Esther heard movement downstairs. 

She jolted upwards, sitting in her bed. Her eyes gazed over to her clock, which read a time between 3 and 4 AM, though her vision was too hazy to see the exact minute. 

It couldn’t be her mother down there, so who was it? 

Esther almost felt as if she were being pulled, or controlled- her hands subconsciously grabbing Santa’s hat on her desktop. It was the same gravitational force she felt when Natasha snatched it out of her hands. The same power. As if being away from it for a second would be disastrous. 

Esther slowly tip-toed her way down the stairs. At first, the Christmas tree came into view.. 

And then Santa Clause himself. 

Esther willed herself not to scream at seeing the large man in her living room- and after the few seconds of initial shock, she felt both curious and excited.


Santa’s beard was as long as it was white- pure, like the snow on the trees outside. His signature red outfit was as on-point as it was in every movie, every book, every picture. It was like Esther had been sucked into a Christmas novel, or perhaps a Christmas short story. 

Santa’s mouth underneath his beard pulled into a grin. “Esther Merril.” 

She hadn’t even realized her eyes were widened in shock before she blinked. Esther looked down to his hat in her hands and held it out for him to reach for. “I have your hat, Santa Clause.” 

The old man laughed jollily, stepping forward to grasp it. “Why, I’ve missed this old thing dearly. Thank you for keeping it safe.” 

Esther could still hardly believe the symbol of Christmas was standing in her living room, but she allowed herself to ask a question. It wouldn’t hurt. “Santa.. There’s something I didn’t get on Christmas day.” 

Santa raised an eyebrow. “What might that be?” 

“My friendship bracelet,” Esther said quietly. “My ex-friend-” she cleared her throat, “friend, Natasha Peters, has a matching one. We had a falling out, and I had lost mine. But.. I’d really love to have it once again.” 

Unknowingly to her, Santa had already determined the wishes of Esther Merril- and realized one incredibly special gift was missing from under her tree. 

Santa frowned and huffed. “How unfortunate. I truly am sorry,” he dug out something particular from his pocket, “that you did not receive that gift.” 

Esther beamed, her eyes nearly glimmering at the sight of the friendship bracelet. “You have it. You really have it!” 

“Well, I am Santa, I have everything,” He spoke smugly. He laughed before it turned to something of a grimace. He took his hat off his head, staring at it. “I’ve spent way too much time worrying about this darn thing. Worried about my image, mainly. Making children like you happy is far more worthwhile. I believe I should get my priorities in check.” 

Esther was too ecstatic to reply. Santa smiled warmly and started to walk towards her chimney. 


He turned back. 

Esther cleared her throat, then spoke with all the gratitude she could muster. “Thank you. Merry Christmas, Santa.” 

He mirrored her expression. “Merry Christmas, Esther.” 





“Natasha, look!” 

The next day in school, Esther was wearing her long-sought-after friendship bracelet on her wrist. Natasha held her wrist next to hers, wearing the same. 

Charlie stared at the two, who were now laughing and smiling, just as they used to. It put a smile on his face as well. 

Mr. Holiday stood in front of the class, and they all took their seats. Where Natasha once sat in the back of the class, surrounded by her other friends- she now took the seat on the other side of Esther. 

Esther tried to focus on Mr. Holiday’s lecture, but found her mind thinking about something else….

Perhaps her favorite gift this Christmas was the friends she made along the way.  


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  • H

    Haileigh PrillJan 18, 2024 at 3:51 pm

    THIS WAS SO GOOD!! Great job

  • N

    Natalie RubinDec 22, 2023 at 9:22 am

    PS: That last sentence was only half-serious 🙂

    I hope whoever is reading this enjoyed my story!

    • E

      Emily ManionDec 23, 2023 at 8:41 am