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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2207575
Christmas is cancelled. Here's why. Written for the Bah Humbug! competition
Breaking News

"Mom, come quick," five-year-old Ryan ran into the kitchen and dragged me by the hand.

"What? What's happened?" I said, hearing the sobs of his younger sister. "What has she done?"

I was convinced that she must be hurt, but a quick glance reassured me that she was fine. She was sitting on the floor in front of the television with her head in her hands. From the way she was crying something had clearly upset her. "Katie, what's wrong?" I asked.

"Listen, Mom. Listen to what they are saying!" Ryan was beginning to sniff in a way that said he was near to tears too.

I looked at the television. There flashing across the screen were the words: 'Breaking News: Christmas to be cancelled!'

Was this some kind of a joke? The person playing it must be pretty cruel to pick a time when the kids were bound to be watching to play their prank.

"It's not true, is it, Mom?" Ryan still believed I could solve all the problems, that I could take on all the bad things and make them disappear.

I was caught off-guard, my mind already taking stock of what we'd already got bought and hidden away just for the occasion. "No... Of course it's not..." My voice tailed away when the screen changed and there, sitting before a camera, was the President himself.

"Ladies and gentlemen, fellow citizens, it is with great sadness that I have to announce that this year Christmas will be cancelled." He paused, took a sip from a glass that stood on the table beside him.

"I remember the Christmas's of the past when I used to sit up and wait to hear the reindeer's feet. I even tried to catch a glimpse of the big man himself on more than one year. But this year, there will be no Santa."

Was this a joke? It had to be, but he looked so serious as he was talking; he appeared to be totally in earnest.

"It is time that we as a nation tighten our purse strings, not to mention our belts. No more will the giving of gifts, extravagant or small, be allowed. No more will companies be permitted to sabotage our diets with calorie laden seasonal fare. It is," he paused again to look at his notes, "time for the nation to grow up!"

Katie began to wail again at those words, drowning out our elected leader for a while. I looked at the screen, at the face with the mouth opening and closing, and thought not for the first time that he looked a bit like a fish. A giant bloated one, maybe, but definitely a fish out of water.

"I am sure that some of you have already spent a good deal of money in preparing for the occasion. Were you trying to jump the gun? Spread the cost? Make the best of bargains? This year it will not have paid off, for not only is the big day cancelled but stores across the entire nation have been instructed not to issue refunds or credit notes."

He almost smiled when he went on to add: "Let's face it; they are going to be the biggest losers of all."
I sat down on the sofa, ready to cry along with the kids.

"Bought goods should be left outside the door. Special collectors will be along to remove what has become a commercial disaster. There are no winners in what has become a cut-price war!"

Was that it? Was our President really going to ruin the holiday for all of our children over the rumor that Jack Bentos, the founder of Mississippi, would be standing against him in the forth-coming election? Of all the mean, underhand things to do...

"Katie! Ryan! Stop crying, okay. Santa will come, just on a different day. Maybe a day earlier or perhaps a day late, but he will be here," I reassured them.

The face stared out of the screen, his accusing eyes looking directly at me. "And for all of you that think you'll outwit me on this by changing the day, just remember this: Gobble will be watching!"

I looked around the room with opened eyes, wondering what might be watching me at that very moment. Ryan and Katie sensed trouble and both began to cry and this time I did not know what to say to comfort them.


(739 words).

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