In the streets of Kailytown snow lay crisp and white . It crunched under the feet of the last minute shoppers who ran from shop to shop looking for that special something for that special someone in their life .
All over town Christmas decorations and lights were draped from lampposts
and buildings . The winter wind tried to blow them to the ground but they clung on despite the winds wild flurry . To and fro they were swinging above the noisy street as the night was chasing the crowds back home again .
Time was running out for the shoppers and very soon it would be Christmas .
The last bus had left the town and on board were Mr and Mrs Skeptic .
They looked out the window of the bus as it rolled along through the tiny streets bring the late night shoppers back home .
Christmas trees lit up the every front window of every house in Kailytown .
Inside every house little boys and girls were getting ready for bed .
The bus crawled along past the river and made its way up Construction Hill .
At the top of the hill outside the community centre two passengers stood up and rand the bell to indicate they were getting off the bus .
As they approached the driver one of them said ,
"Hows things Barney ?"
"Oh Mr Skeptic .
Said the driver who nodded his head back and forward repeatedly as he tried to talk as well as watch the road ahead .
"Things are good like and how's thing with yourself and Mrs Skeptic ?
Mr Skeptic replied ,
"Mind you Barney I could say things aren't the best but then there's no use complaining like so I say that things are well . We had to get a baby sitter in tonight to watch the kids as it was the last chance we had to get in a few things for Christmas so as soon as we get home I'd say we will have the rest of the night to catch up on some sleep ."
The bus driver replied ,
"Sure I know how it is ."
He pulled the bus to a stop and Mr and Mrs Skeptic got off the bus .
They wished Barney the bus driver a merry Christmas and he returned the compliment . Then they got off the bus and walked along Puddle Lane towards their large red brick two storey home that stood beside the public park and children's playground .
Before they came to the front door Mr Skeptic reached into his pocket and took out some money . He counted out about a days wage and then he looked and his wife and said .
"Have you got that Christmas card we bought ?"
Mrs Skeptic put down her shopping bag and pulled through each one until she found the card . She handed it to him and said ,
"Here you are ."
Mr Skeptic placed the money inside the card and sealed the envelope .
They opened up the front door of their house and went inside .
Sally the baby sitter helped them with all their shopping bags and Mr Skeptic handed her the envelope and said ,
"Happy Christmas Sally . Thanks for all your help this evening ."
Sally took the envelope and said ,
"The kids are all asleep and I've done the washing up and put everything away . The ironing has been done and the tea pot is on the boil . So if you don't mind now I'll head on home ."
Mrs Skeptic gave Sally her coat and opened the front door .
She reached out and gave Sally a hug and said ,
"Thank you Sally ."
The ten month old twins began to cry just after Sally closed the front door .
Mrs Skeptic looked at her husband and she said .
"Ok you take Dinny and I'll get Donny ."
They both made their way to the big cot in the upstairs back bedroom .
After a few cuddles and caring words the twins were off to dreamland again and Mr and Mrs Skeptic went back down stairs to get a cup of tea .
They were just sitting down when another of their children surprised them by coming into the kitchen . Brian the four year old had a habit of sleep walking and such was the case this very night . After Brain went through the kitchen cupboard and turned some things upside down Mr and Mrs Skeptic followed him upstairs again in case he should fall down .
Brian was safely back in bed and the house hold was quiet again .
Linda the six year old daughter began to talk in her sleep and Mrs Skeptic went in and caressed her forehead to settle her down .
Mr Skeptic said ,
"You go on to bed if you want and I'll just turn things off downstairs ."
She nodded in agreement and headed straight to bed .
Mr Skeptic went back downstairs and turned all the Christmas Tree lights off and threw a bucket of slack on top of the burning embers in the open heart fire . He checked to see if all the doors were locked and then made his way upstairs to bed . Mrs Skeptic was already fast asleep and snoring and the second Mr Skeptic's head touched the pillow he too drifted off to sleep .
At that same time Libby , the oldest girl in the family crept out of bed and made her way downstairs . Libby went into the parlour and grabbed a pencil and notebook . She ripped out a blank sheet from the notebook and started to write a message .
Dear Santa ,
Its Libby Skeptic and I'm now ten years old . Even though you may think I am not very wise well I am . The thing is I think its high time you should know that I know what's going on . You see Santa I don't believe in you anymore . As a matter of fact I'm not leaving out the usual piece of cake and glass of milk . Sorry to disappoint you but I will not be fooled again by any false reindeer scratch marks of your false foot prints on the floor . So anyway Dad ,
here is the list of things that I want this year for Christmas .
A new computer with a selection of games . A new mountain bike with all the reflective lights attatched . Three of the new walking talking dolls that you can feed and also put make up on their faces . Another thing I asked for a DVD player last year and it never came . So I'm telling you again this year .
That's all I want to say for now Dad .
Goodnight from Libby your eldest and wisest daughter .
She took the note and placed it inside a plain envelope . Then she took it over to the fire place and placed the note beside the Christmas stockings that were all hanging up along the mantelpiece .
Libby went back upstairs and slipped back into her bed .
After a few moments everyone was fast asleep . Not a sound could be heard .
As the clock on the mantelpiece stuck midnight something very strange was starting to happen .
In front of the fireplace the envelope began to glow and suddenly it burst into flames . The flames leapt up and caught the Christmas stockings and in a matter of minutes a fire had engulfed the parlour . Black smoke began to waft through the entire house . Flames were now licking up the staircase towards the bedrooms .
Mr Skeptic awoke from his sleep and instantly smelt the danger .
He jumped out of bed and ran to the stairs where the fumes of the fire chocked in his throat . The fire was well alight and he went and woke his wife and shouted ,
"Fire . Fire . We have to get everyone out "
She jumped up as fast as she could ,
"Jeazus the twins , you grab Dinny and I'll get Donny ."
"Ok you and Dinny get out . I'll get everyone else out ok ."
"Hurry love .
She replied .
By the time Mr and Mrs Skeptic got to the twins they could see their was no way out . The fire was raging and the staircase was gone .
As they stood their holding the twins the rest of the family joined them at the top of the landing . Libby was last to leave her bed .
With no way down stairs and smoke getting thicker they all made their way into the front bedroom and shut the door . The twins started to cry .
Mr Skeptic opened the bedroom window and he stood on the sill screaming out in a loud voice .
" Help ! Help us somebody . We're all trapped . "
The rest of the family all followed and then all of them stood on the window sill screaming for help .
Somewhere in the distance came a jingle sound . The sound of jingling bells got closer and closer and louder and louder and louder until right there before their very eyes they all saw it .
A huge sleigh with six reindeers descending down from the sky .
Sitting in front of the sleigh was a large man with a big white beard and a red suit . The sleigh seemed to glide through the sir like a bird and soon it was hovering beside all the Skeptics who began to jump into the sleigh .
When the last of them were on the sleight the fat man in the red suit said ,
" Ho-Ho-Ho and away we go ."
Mrs Skeptic gave the big fat man a hug and said ,
"Thank God its you Santa ."
Mr Skeptic shouted ,
"I thought we were finished Santa ."
From high up in the sky they could see their red house burning away .
Ho-Ho-Ho sing me a Christmas carol Libby ."
Said Santa .
"This is incredible you know . Its just like you Santa . While our house is burning into ashes and we're faced with being homelss at Christmas you want me to sing you a Christmas carol . I don't believe you Santa ."
"Ho-Ho-Ho . I seem to recall you said that same thing sometime before Libby and do you still think I don't exist ."
Santa said .
Libby replied .
"Santa we have just lost everything we have ."
"Ho-Ho-Ho . Can you not see beyond what you think is real ."
Santa said .
Libby was surprised to see bright star in the sky twinkled brightly over the roof of a very large house beside a lake .
"Ho-Ho-Ho . Your Christmas present this year is this mansion .
The sleight came down to the ground and rested by the front door .
"Thanks for the sleigh ride Santa ."
Mr Skeptic said .
"Ho-Ho-Ho the key is in the door . There's a lot more waiting for you all inside . So go on and enjoy Christmas in your new home .
They all rushed into the house except for Libby who went over and said ,
"Santa now I really do believe in you . "
The reindeers ran away and the sleigh lifted off the ground into the sky .
Libby ran inside the house and sitting beside the biggest Christmas tree you could ever imagine was a DVD player, a mountain bike , three walking talking pretty girl dolls , a new computer with a box of games and a little note from Santa that read .
"Just because you can't see me doesn't mean I don't exist . Keep believing Libby and have a great Christmas. From you now who ."
Libby began to dance and she shouted out ,
"Santa you're the greatest ."
Mr Skeptic wald over to her and placed his arms around her . Lifting her high into the air they both laughed aloud .
"Isn't Santa just wonderful Dad ? "
Libby said .
Mr Skeptic replied .
"He sure is . He's the greatest ."
By Paul Mc Cann