Stephen Coyle

The Secret of Saint Nick

Twas the night before Christmas, when Sally and Jimmy,
Were sitting in silence and watching the chimney.
The whiskey was out, the stockings were hung,
And they patiently waited for Santa to come.
That morning they'd argued for hours on end,
About how he gets all of the toys that he sends.
"He makes them!", "He buys them!", "He gets them for free?"
Neither was sure what the answer could be.

So they hatched a grand plan, to pin down the facts;
They'd stake Santa out and catch him in the act.
They heard him arrive, with a thump from above.
Their peeled eyes soon saw soot, a boot, then a glove.
But sulking behind him, bedraggled and slack,
Was a sack that looked empty, which took them aback.
Nonetheless, he reached in, and produced with some joy,
Sally's chemistry set and Jim's action boy.

Gifts laid out, the jolly old elf looked around,
His whiskey and mince pie were easily found.
With seconds to spare, the kids' plan was foolproof;
They ran up the stairs and climbed onto the roof.
A sleigh sat as expected, sunk into the snow,
With eight of the happiest reindeer in tow.
They sneaked in the back of the rickety sled,
And hid with a mixture of fervour and dread.

Santa soon took his seat and got into position,
Threw his sack in behind him, to get on with his mission.
Wasting no time, the kids grabbed the sack,
Stuck their heads in the top but saw only black.
"On Dasher, on Dancer!" they suddenly heard,
With each name that followed, the craft further stirred.
With a mighty old jolt, the sled lurched ahead,
But Sally and Jimmy fell backwards instead.

Tumbling into the sack that had seemed so decrepit,
They fell for much longer than they had expected.
With a thud and a thump, the kids came to rest,
And found themselves, still, on the roof they had left.
Looking around just increased their confusion,
They wondered if Santa had been an illusion.
For there weren't any tracks where his sleigh had set off,
Nor any footprints in the snow from their socks.

It was like they had simply appeared on the roof,
And imagined the sleigh, and each antler and hoof.
They climbed to the window through which they got out,
But found it was shut, so they planned a new route.
Two hours of climbing, a mighty old chore,
Got them to the ground, so they knocked on the door.
It was morning, at last, and their presents were waiting,
They heard steps on the stairs, but much hesitating.

The door finally opened, after much of a dally,
Staring back at them, shocked, were Jimmy and Sally.
"How could this be!?" Shouted Jimmy in anger,
(Not the Jimmy you know, his doppelgänger).
They called for their parents in perfect rapport,
"Mum, dad, come quick we need you!", said all four.
Their parents arrived, and saw the newly-acquainted,
Their mother screamed and their father fainted.

Soon they calmed down, asking them to explain,
So Sally and Jimmy relayed their campaign.
As they told of the plan to see Santa's sack,
Their parents' brows furrowed as they tried to keep track.
"But Santa takes kids' toys, he doesn't bring them."
Said dad with a note of remorse for his income.
"We buy children presents in pairs every year,"
"Because our Santa steals one set of the gear."

Sally realised, with horror, now what had occurred.
Their Santa, a thief, used his sack, she inferred,
To reach into this parallel universe,
And steal toys for the kids that lived back on their Earth.
When they fell in the sack, they left their own world,
And into this place they had been promptly hurled.
In spite of this breakthrough, they were no less adrift,
It would be a full year before Santa's next shift.

Three-hundred and sixty-four days had now passed,
Sally and Jimmy would be home soon at last.
On Christmas Eve this year, the gift box enclosed,
Our Sally and Jimmy - no toys, books or clothes.
While waiting with patience for Santa's thief hands,
Our Jimmy thought something that threatened their plans.
"Well we haven't been home, so there won't be a list,"
"So Santa won't reach here when looking for gifts."

"You're right" said our Sally, as she shouted for help,
They explained to the parents who let out a yelp.
But quick as a flash, mum hatched a new plan,
They picked up the gift box, to the neighbours' they ran.
They opened the window as quick as could be,
And put the kid-gift-box under the tree.
As soon as they'd done it, with a crackle and flash,
A gloved hand appeared and perused the gift cache.

It picked up the gift box with uncanny ease,
And like that, it was gone, and the parents were pleased.
Sally and Jimmy were suddenly back,
In the world they had left, thanks to that evil sack.
When they heard Santa leave, they jumped out of the box,
And ran to the window that this time was locked.
They opened it, climbed out, and ran to their dwelling,
Planning the story that they would be telling.

They banged on the door and the lights all awoke,
And they grinned ear to ear waiting for their old folk.
And they heard in the sky, as they did reunite,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."

Published 2 November, 2020