The Grotto (Part 4)


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I took a shower when I got back home and as I stood under the hot water, I tried to clear my head. Still though the idea that my little niece was growing up and losing her believe in Christmas bugged me. How could I make things better?

My own childhood hadn’t been merry and bright. I knew around Willow’s age that there was no Santa, because nothing would bring my parents back to life. Alex and I had kept up the pretense for my grandparents a little long but then we had all gotten tried of it. We had grown up before we should have done and that was why Alex wanted his children to experience everything for a longer time.

Washing my hair, I wondered if I could write a letter to Willow pretending to be from Santa. As long as I was careful, it might just work. I could do some internet searching and see how to get it right. No one else would have to know about it.

I set to that plan after getting dressed and having something to eat. My granddad normally went out to the pub tonight but with the bad weather he was staying in. Leaving my grandparents to wrap presents, I went upstairs and loaded up my laptop. Making up a letter from Santa was easier then I thought. Only a few times did I wondered if it was the right thing to do and if I should check with Alex. I was done before I could do anything else though.

The next day when I saw Alex leaving early for work as I headed out myself, I called over the road to him.

‘I have this…’ I said fishing the envelope out of handbag, ‘can you put it under the tree on Christmas eve?’

‘Why?’ he asked, accepting the letter.

‘It’s for Willow. Just thought it might help her believing for a bit longer.’

Alex looked at the large cream envelope before replying, ‘I think we’re going to have to tell her. Jo is getting tried of all the questions and with Luke still being ill….’

‘But Christmas is so soon!’ I pointed out, ‘No, you can’t! Next year, maybe. Just give her the letter.’

I shoved his hand and the letter up and did my best sister pleading eyes.

‘Okay,’ he signed.

‘Good. See you later,’

I hurried away and went to catch my bus. On the ride into work, I wondered how Willow would take it. Would she know it was a fake or would it inspire her to carry on believing? Had I done a good thing or not? It was up to the Spirit of Christmas now.

Working at the college library was a bore most days but at least it paid and forced me to carry on looking for other job. Some days, I was able to leave early and go pick Willow up from school which was close by. She finished in three days now which meant Christmas eve was so close! The college had finished last week but the library was still open for those bookworms and panic studying students.

I finished early and since it was too soon to pick Willow up, I went home. The next few days past far too fast, so I didn’t get a chance to tell Alex about my plan. On Christmas eve, I went out with some friends and finally had some downtime. It was good to just forget about Christmas and Santa and believing for a few hours.

Late on Christmas morning, my grandparents and I went went over to Alex’s. We each had a pot or tray of something homemade that my gran had cooked or baked. Jo opened the door and seemed glad to see us. I had not seen her in a few days and she really looked tried.

‘My parents are running late, come in,’ she added.

Willow dashed out of the front room, something in her hand, ‘Auntie Angel! Dad said I could couldn’t open this till you got here!’

Giving Jo the bowl of stuffing I was holding, I went over to Willow and saw the envelope in her hand. She was still in her pajamas which were pink and the top read Princess whilst the bottoms had crowns and hearts on them.

‘What is it?’ I asked.

Willow shrugged and opened it.

I held my breath and bit my lip.

‘It’s a letter…’ Willow trailed.

I hummed and waited. In the background her baby brother Luke started crying and I heard Alex trying to shush him.

‘From…Santa!’ Willow gasped, ‘Angel! He really wrote to me!’

‘What does it say?’ I pressed, trying to keep the smile from my face.

‘He said; I’m sorry I can’t see you in person but I’ve been really busy. My elves and I are finishing up making toys packing the sleigh today. The reindeer are almost ready to fly and I have so many deliveries to make this year. My cousins have been telling me all about you and so have the elves,’ Willow read excitedly.

‘Well that’s good!’

Willow nodded and carried on, ‘it can be hard for me to write to each child, but I do try and will always take the time for those that have been really good. I hope you love the pink unicorn you asked for, it was made just for you.’

She dropped the letter and turned to the front room, ‘you should see her, Aunt, she’s huge!’ Willow cried.

I laughed, ‘what else does the letter say?’

‘That; I hope like the other presents you got too. Have a good Christmas and it’s a special time to be with your family. Thanks for believing in me. Santa,’ Willow took a deep breath, ‘he’s real! He’s real!’ she cried.

I laughed and hugged her, ‘he really is if you believe hard enough,’ I whispered.

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