Turns out, mince pies are deadly.
Last year, my first time as Santa, my grotto had been a dingy corridor. This year I had a rather plush antechamber off the town hall. I even had the Mayor’s throne to sit on. Brilliant.
Of course there were still terrified children, but plenty of happy ones too. I even managed to make one or two initially terrified children smile. Even laugh.
I was on a roll. Someone brought me a cup of mulled wine and a mince pie. I threw back the alcohol.
“Are you there Santa?” My elf called. I panicked, stuffed the whole pie into my mouth and tried to swallow. No matter how hard I swallowed, it wouldn’t go down. I realised, with growing terror, that my beard had become tangled around the pie. I was trying to swallow my beard.
A happy, brave little boy rushed right up to my thrown, told me his name and asked for a pair of shoes with wheels on them for Christmas.
“Guuuurkkkkurk.” I replied. He frowned at me.
Eyes watering, face turning red, I could think of only three ways out of this situation. 1. I could just choke to death, this seemed like the easiest and noblest option. 2. I could cough up a huge ball of hair, pastry and mince meat, or 3. I could slowly eat my entire Santa’s beard. None of these options seemed likely to give this little boy the happy festive memory for which his parents had donated a pound to charity. I wondered if the Mayor had ever regurgitated onto a child from his chair.
“Guuruukkkkk.” I continued, rasping like a strangled frog. “Have you… uuuuurkk… been a good…. huuuuulllgg… boy… ggiggig?”
He nodded, his eyes widening fearfully.
After a disconcerting session he waved, backing away, as if he feared he was witnessing Santa’s last moments.
“Ho Ho Huuuuurk.” Santa waved, tears streaming down his face, eyes bulging.
I don’t think Santa will be eating mince pies next year. Or possibly ever again.