Tuesday 23 January 2024

The Night Before Christmas - Flash Fiction Story by Tony Dawson


The Night Before Christmas

Flash Fiction Story

by Tony Dawson

After spending the year idling his time away, Santa Claus, walked into the Elves’ cave to check that everything was ready for the annual distribution of presents to the well-behaved kids and coal to the naughty ones. To his amazement he found that all those he referred to fondly as his “little helpers” were gathered together, grim-faced and waving placards. They were all on strike, for heaven’s sake!

One group of Elves had taken up the cudgels on behalf of Greta Thunberg. They claimed that the carbon footprint of the turbocharged reindeer  Donner and Blitzen  were singled out especially¾farting their way round the planet thousands of times as they pulled Santa’s sleigh to visit billions of homes released enough methane for climate change to reach its tipping point. Greenhouse gases had to be reduced drastically, hence the need to ground the reindeer-drawn sleigh for good. It was time to seek a more environmentally friendly method of delivery.

The animal rights activists among his “little helpers” displayed placards saying, “Stop animal exploitation”. It was unthinkable that reindeer should be driven mercilessly around the world at warp speed without rest or sustenance on Christmas Eve. They declared that, in any case, Amazon could probably deliver all the stuff just as quick and use sustainable transport to boot.

Others observed that as coal was now being phased out, it had important consequences for Santa Claus and all those on his paltry payroll. First of all, it would be illegal to give coal to naughty children and secondly, because chimneys were being blocked off all around the world, the bearded weirdo in the red suit would not have his usual access to homes without being seen by the occupants, including the children. He would have to knock on doors to get in and so destroy the magic of Christmas.

The Gnomes, who had been taken on as casual workers on zero hour contracts, were on strike for higher wages. They were complaining that one measly Christmas hamper was hardly a sufficient reward for all the work they had put in during the year while he was sitting on his fat arse with his feet up. Given the rate of inflation, it was high time their remuneration was reviewed.

Meanwhile the fairy feminists, who usually spent the Christmas period sitting on top of fir trees in some discomfort or hanging from a lower branch suspended by their wings, were angry for a number of reasons. One placard read: “What’s all this Ho! Ho! Ho! bullshit? Who are you calling Hoes?” and another said, ”Haven’t you heard of #Metoo?”

They were also quick to challenge the idea that Christmas should always be represented by Father Christmas. What’s wrong with having a Mother Christmas for a change. Or even a Trans Christmas, come to that. They emphasized the fact that the very title “Santa” Claus itself was somewhat gender ambiguous as any Spanish speaker would tell you.

The bearded oddball nearly burst his belt laughing. He looked at them with feigned amusement, as he stroked his false beard.

“You do realize that none of us is real, don’t you? That we are all figments of the collective imagination? It’s all a con, an elaborate charade thought up by parents to encourage their little brats to behave themselves or else. Anyone who actually believes this nonsense is either under the age of seven or batshit crazy. Apart from anything else, do you really believe that someone my size could squeeze down even one chimney, let alone millions of them? Come off it!”

The rebellious cave dwellers looked crestfallen. One by one, they put their placards down. Their shoulders drooped. They hung their heads. They were at a loss. How could they be abstract notions in the collective imagination?

One of the better read elves whispered to a gnome, “Maybe he means something like that fellow Calderón de la Barca wrote in his play. You know the one I mean: Life is a Dream.”

Santa smirked and congratulated himself on facing down the strike so easily. He felt like performing a little dance. CEOs of the world eat your hearts out. He immediately thought that writing a self-help book for businessmen would be a nice little earner. Furthermore, his annual round of chatting up the wives and mothers in all those houses around the world and swigging a sherry or three in each one was safe for another year.

Just when he thought he had achieved a bloodless, not to say, financially cheap victory, he heard and then saw a group of breathless screen writers and actors bursting into the cave demanding attention. Santa looked alarmed. Their arrival was the one thing he hadn’t bargained for. The Screenwriters and Actors Guild were a powerful lobby who had been on strike for months. Their strike had done the most damage to his reputation because they had always been his publicity machine, constantly boosting his image on film and TV, buoying him up for the weeks up to and including 24 December. You could bet your bottom dollar that the following day, nine out of ten families would be sitting, grossed out, in front of the television watching any old film starring him, whether he appeared under the guise of Santa Claus, Father Christmas, or Kris Kringle, often battling it out with the Grinch.

The representatives of the Screenwriters and Actors Guild planted themselves in front of the downcast Elves, Gnomes, fairies, environmentalists, and feminists and held up a banner, which declared their intention to remain on strike until they were properly remunerated by the film and theatre industries. They realized that the supposedly well-loved figure of Santa Claus was the chink in the armour of those industries. Hence their turning up in the cave.

The blood drained from Santa’s rosy cheeks. Since he was in his cave, faced with a powerful opponent, it was natural that he should cave in without any resistance. “Look,” he spluttered, “I’m willing to press for a big boost to your wages and streaming compensation as long as you give me all the credit for bringing about the happy ending. After all, happy endings are what I’m all about. Do we have a deal?”

Tony Dawson, an Englishman, has lived in Seville since 1989, having had careers in higher education in both England and Spain. He’s published poems in print in Critical Survey, Shoestring Press, Pure Slush, Otherwise Engaged Literary and Arts Journal Volume 10 Winter 2022 and 11 Summer 2023 /Part I), Our Changing Earth Vol. 1; online at London Grip, The Five-Two, The Syndic Literary Journal, Beatnik Cowboy, Home Planet News, Cajun Mutt Press, Poetry and Covid, and Loch Raven Review. He’s published flash fiction in print in Chiron Review, Pure Slush and Otherwise Engaged Literary and Arts Journal Volume 10 Winter 2022; online at Literally Stories, and Syndic Literary Journal. Both genres have also been published in Home Planet News in Spanish. He recently published Afterthoughts, a small collection of poems 



  1. I want Greta Gerwig to direct the movie.

  2. What a great idea! :-) Please put her in touch with me.


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