Mrs. Worthington look at the television again. George was looking
for Mary at the library. She is better off without him. Imagine
running through town like that! Men. Mrs. Worthington turned back
to her novel and heard her husband chortle. She looked up.
“What are you reading, dear?”
Walter, a big man in his slippers, held up the green and red book.
“’Twas the Night Before Christmas.”
Mr. Worthington looked over her glasses.
“Why on earth are you reading that?”
“I read it every year on Christmas Eve.”
The teacher dropped her book and stared at her husband.
“You do not!”
“I do. But if you don’t want to believe me, that’s fine.”
“I don’t see why you would read a children’s poem even once,”
“I enjoy it.”
“It is for children, Walter!”
He looked at his wife.
“On Christmas Eve we are all children, Barbara.”
“Oh, don’t be ridiculous.”
Walter shrugged again. “Suit yourself. Some of us still believe.”
That one cut her. Mrs. Worthington carefully marked the page
of her novel and saw that George was now in his old house looking
for his wife and children. She could have told him that it was all in
vain. The man had thrown away a perfectly good life with both hands.
Ms. Worthington gripped her armchair.
“What do you mean by that, Walter?”
He looked over his glasses.
“I mean, I still believe in the magic of Christmas.”
“I suppose next you will tell me you still believe in Santa Claus.”
Mrs. Worthington jumped up.
“I have had it with all this foolishness. You are as crazy as that
Kronenfeldt man who is going to prove there is a Santa Claus by
flying a sled onto his roof!”
Walter put down his book and frowned. “I heard about him. I
heard he had hired a whole movie crew to pull it off, and he was going
to do it tonight. I wonder if he really is going to fly a sled onto his roof.”
“How should I know? He has been warned by the principal and
many parents not to try anything that would disappoint the children.”
Walter looked at his wife.
“I don’t see why it’s the principal’s business what he does for his
“Of course it is the principal’s business and mine! If he disappoints
hundreds of children after promising Santa Claus will come and his
daughter promised to put it on the Internet, then it most certainly
is my business!”
“Bah humbug, huh, Barbara?”
Mrs. Worthington put her hand on the mantel and saw that
George had stumbled back to the bridge.
“What do you mean by that?”
Her husband looked up at her.
“I mean that for forty years you have been knocking the stuffing
out of Santa Claus because that strict old German bastard knocked
the magic out of his daughter.”
“My father was a very logical man who didn’t believe in fairytales.
I appreciate that he told me early on how the world was.”
Walter sighed. “He told you his view of the world, Barbara, not
the way the world is. He didn’t know what it was like. All he knew
was how to work from sunup to sundown in his fields and sell eggs
off his back porch.”
“I resent that Walter—”
Her husband sat up, his eyes flashing uncharacteristically.
“And I resent that you have imposed your beliefs on hundreds of
children who do believe in Santa Claus. What the hell is the harm in
believing there is something better than this life?”
Mrs. Worthington was sure the world had gone crazy. Her husband
never talked to her like this. He never crossed her; he usually
acquiesced to her demands with the same placid demeanor he had
when they married.
She raised her eyebrows.
“You are angry, Walter.”
He paused then nodded. “Yeah, I guess I am. You try and stop
a father from giving his daughter the gift of childhood. I guess that
does piss me off.”
Piss him off. Mrs. Worthington felt like he had sworn at her.
“I will not tolerate this kind of talk!”
“What … are you going to give me a time-out? I’m not one of
your students, Barbara.”
“You deserve a time-out with that kind of talk,” she declared
Walter shrugged and stood up, walking into the front hall. He
took out his coat and slipped into his boots.
“Where are you going?”
Walter popped on the hat with the large earflaps she hated because
it made him look like a farmer.
“I think I’d like to see Santa Claus. I think I’m going to go see if
that guy can give his daughter something to believe in.”
“Don’t be ridiculous! You stay right here! Going out in the cold
on Christmas Eve. You are as crazy as this man George,” she declared,
gesturing to the television.
Walter opened the door and turned back to his wife.
“I’m eighty-five years old, Barbara. Maybe I need to believe in
something again.” He looked at the television where George was
running through Bedford Falls. “Go, George, go!”
And with that he walked out the door. Mrs. Worthington stared
at the door then turned to the television where George had been
reunited with his family. Zuzu was telling her father that every time
a bell rings an angel gets his wings. Mrs. Worthington collapsed in
her chair, staring at the happy family in disbelief.
Real Santa Holiday Special