Sheila was feeling pretty good about herself, considering it was Christmas Eve. She had just informed her staff that not only were there no holiday bonuses coming, but they’d have to work overtime all week after Christmas to make up the work. They didn’t really need to, of course; it just made her feel better to destroy the holiday spirit.
She heard some mutterings around the office, including “Scroogette” and “Krampella,” but the names just fueled her hatred of the season. If there was one thing Sheila Baxter was known for around the workplace, it was being a huge wad of a boss around Christmas. If there was another, it was her tendency to rub her left eye a lot.
Sheila opened her apartment door and swiftly locked all seven locks from the inside. She didn’t expect anyone to sing Christmas carols to her on the fourth floor of an apartment, but she felt safer taking precautions.
As she waltzed towards the empty photo room, Sheila could sense someone in her apartment. She made a beeline for her broom closet and pulled out an old BB gun. She stalked her way into her lonely photo collection area and…
It was Santa Claus, dressed in all the traditional attire, as well as a pair of dank sunglasses. He gave her two thumbs up.
“Get out, Kringle, or I’ll shoot!” Sheila was hyperventilating, knowing full well she couldn’t kill him.
“Is that even lo-ho-hoaded?”
Sheila fired the gun into the air to prove it was.
“Now scat, fatty!”
Santa took a frame from the shelves. “These photos are the generic ones the stores sell with the frames. No fond memories you wish to remember?”
“I said scram, clown!”
“Contrary to popular belief, I don’t know every child’s history. Why do you hate Christmas so?”
“Because you weren’t there when I needed you!” She gasped at what had come out of her mouth. “I mean… I don’t know what I mean.”
“What happened, Sheila?”
She sat down and heaved a huge sigh.
“It was when I was 12. It was a few months after 9/11, so I really could have used Christmas cheer.”
“Tough year for us all,” Santa said, straightening his dope shades.
“Tell me about it. Anyway, mom and her new boyfriend and I were planning to go to New York for the holidays. Somehow, they forgot me at home.”
“Some robbers tried to break in. I’m not really technical, so all the traps I laid for them failed. I got tied up and they stole everything. The tree, the trimmings, you get it. They stole Christmas.”
“I met up with my boyfriend the next morning and showed him that I cut my hair to get him a new guitar. He said he likes long hair and that we should break up.”
“Too bad I couldn’t put him on the naughty list,” Santa sighed. “Jewish.”
“Mom and Jeff came home early, very distraught over the loss of the presents, less so for my well-being. Jeff pulled out a BB gun,” she motioned the object in her hands, “and gave it to me. I went to the backyard to fire it, when it went off in my eye.”
“But your glasses deflected the bullet, right?”
“No, see, I got a pair of contact lenses from you. This is a false eye, and it still hurts to this day.”
“Your mother didn’t tell me about that.”
“She didn’t want you to be involved in my life anymore. Jeff might have been negligent, but he made time for me.”
“I know, I’m sorry. I truly regret overworking myself now.” Santa lowered his shades to reveal smoky, unfocused eyes moving in opposite directions.
“I’m worn out, honey. This happened to my father as well. I’m blind.”
Sheila smiled at the thought of Santa, her father, no longer being able to check lists twice. She tried to cover her mouth, but remembered he was blind.
“Well, millions of kids are going to be disappointed when they only get sweaters and socks. Who really makes the phones and video games? I do. Sakurai ain’t got nothin’ on me.”
“I… don’t know what a Sakurai is.”
“He made a video game series. It’s not what matters. Sheila, I came here to see if you’d take back the Claus name. Be Sheila Claus and make Christmas right!”
Sheila rubbed her eye. “What have you ever done for me?”
Santa dropped his head. “I understand. You don’t want to be overworked.”
“Wait.” Sheila looked at her frames. “How did you know my frames were empty?”
Santa paused. “Crap.”
“You… liar! You just wanted some sympathy and to groom me to be your heir!” Sheila threw various frames at her magical father.
“Look, look, look! It’s not…” Santa dodged all of the frames using his focused eyesight. “You always liked Jeff better!”
“Like is a relative term, and as of this moment, I don’t consider you to be mine.” She thought about her words. “Relative, that is.”
Santa had a blank look on his face for a few seconds, then clutched his chest, passed out on the floor, and stopped breathing.
His daughter crouched over his corpse and laughed miserably. “I didn’t mean it, old man. Stop faking it.”
Now Sheila was at a crossroads. Should she take on the Claus mantle and carry on the spirit of that which she hated most, or let the season die once and for all?
At work the next day, Sheila came in bleary-eyed and in desperate need of coffee.
“Ms. Baxter, what’s wrong?” The intern looked concerned, despite having called her a Grinchette yesterday.
“As you know, my father is… was Santa.” The intern nodded. Everyone knew that. “Well, he died yesterday, so I took his sleigh and went to Japan. I found a game developer named Masahiro Sakurai, and asked him if he’d like the position. Mr. Sakurai said anything’s better than explaining why Waluigi’s not playable in his game. I said I didn’t know what a Waluigi was, and he laughed.”
“So Mr. Sakurai’s Santa now?”
“Yeah. When morning rose, he called me to say he’s never felt so relaxed and under-worked in his life. So… Kringle’s an Asian man now.”
She stomped her heel. “Now get back to work or there’s no holiday bonus for you!”
“You cancelled the bonuses.”
“Right. I might seem mean now, but I’m a delight on Arbor Day.”