This is a story of how one Christmas Eve Santa Claus almost missed bringing gifts to children all over the world. Of course, it didn’t happen; and all went well, thanks to a little sable that stubbornly followed his dream.
Once upon a time, somewhere in the Kamchatka Peninsula lived a beautiful, glossy, fur-coated sable. Though his parents had named him Peter, everyone called him Pizzazz, which certainly described him well. He had coined his new name quite inadvertently — he would invariably doze off before he finished telling his name. The little catnapper had many dreams in his sleep but just one when he was wide awake. He longed to pull Santa’s sleigh through the starry skies on Christmas Eve. One year the sable decided to meet Santa and make his request.
A week before Christmas, Pizzazz set off to the North Pole in search of the jolly man. It would be easy to find a rather plump man in a red suit and cap, on a treeless, snow-covered Arctic. Imagine his happiness when he heard a distinct Ho-Ho-Ho in the roaring Arctic winds; and soon enough, he spotted Santa loading gifts onto his sleigh with the help of three of his reindeer. The reindeer were working in a real hurry. He rubbed his eyes. Was he really seeing Santa? He hurried on until he came close to the busy team.
“Hi, I am Pizzazz… I… umm, I wish to pull your sleigh, Santa Clauzzzz…”
The reindeer were amused but Santa replied kindly, “Hey, wake up! I have Rudolph and eight others to fly my sleigh. I really cannot take you along.”
“But, but, but I could help you distribute the gifts. Look at my cat-like body. I can easily go down chimniezzzz…”
“Ho-Ho-Ho and never come up again, sleepyhead!” laughed Santa.
“Oh, please…take me along. Surely I can be of some help to you!”
Santa did not reply. He continued loading the sleigh. There was no time to lose now. He would have to leave soon. Pizzazz stood around with a dogged look. He had to think of something real quick. Little did he know that luck was on his side.
“Quick, fellas, all of you get here quick! Time to take off! Where is Rudolph, my red-nosed reindeer?” asked Santa of Dasher, Dancer and Prancer who were by his side.
“I saw him with Vixen and Donner. Something didn’t look right with him though. I wonder what,” replied Comet as he came from behind the sleigh now filled with innumerable colourful packages.
“Father Santa, Father Santa! We have a problem. Rudolph is down with a severe cold and cough. His nose isn’t glowing anymore. How is he going to lead us through the night?” asked Cupid as he and Donner came running across the heavy snow. Santa looked concerned. He saw Blitsen walking along with the sick reindeer, talking to him and trying to cheer him up.
“Acshoo! Acshoo! Acshoo!” went Rudolph. Yes, it was true; Rudolph’s nose wasn’t shining. And every time the poor reindeer sneezed, his nose turned a dull purplish-red.
“Ho-Ho-Ho! Oh, no! What do we do now?” asked Saint Nicholas, rubbing his nose thoughtfully.
“He could wear a scarf and cap. I am sure his nose will glow if it is warm,” suggested Dasher.
“But they would fall off when we are flying,” replied Santa, shaking his head sadly.
Nobody noticed the gleam that came into Pizzazz’s now alert eyes.
“I have an idea. You know my fur is soft and warm, right? I could climb onto Rudolph’s back, wrap my arms and tail around his neck and ears. I will hold on tight in flight, Rudolph will be warm and his nose would glow again.” Just as the sable had said, the reindeer’s nose glowed once the soft tail of the sable went around his neck. Santa was delighted.
“Ho-Ho-Ho,” he called out as they soared into the black sky. Grinning from ear to ear, Pizzazz whispered ‘Ho-Ho-Ho’ in Rudolph’s ear. He waved excitedly to his friends as they flew over Kamchatka Peninsula.
Published in Deccan Herald’s Weekend Supplement, Open Sesame, dt. December 1, 2012