That naughty and nice list business is nonsense. Santa began as a saint, and saints love everyone. Me? I'm Sir. Claws, the cat who guides him through the night, just as I did when he was Bishop Nicholas those many years ago.
We received a troubled child signal as we were finishing Portland. A very intelligent six year old trying with all her might to believe in us.
"Cat," the big man said, "can you look into this?" I know, you're going to ask how we manage all this in one night. I asked Einstein's cat, and didn't understand a word he meowed. I've settled for calling it magic.
I entered the house and was met by a lovely Persian. "My mistress wants a Young Doctor Kit, an elaborate and expensive thing, educational as it is entertaining. Her single mother, can barely afford a few small gifts."
Maryann had whined, pouted, and wheedled finally exploding in a temper, "I hate you and Santa."
To which her mother, patience expended said, "that young lady is why you're not getting what you want. Try being nicer next year."
It was a strained Christmas eve in the little house. The mother was shocked at herself, knowing it was the pressures of life that had caused her to snap. Maryann, recognized the same, vowed to be better, and, to keep her belief in Santa one more year. Her mother let her set out cookies and milk, and wrap herself in a blanket to wait.
We heard a crashing sound in front of the house. "There's a car on the sidewalk," Maryann told her mother who came out of her bedroom.
A man opened the car door and fell. Then picked himself up and shuffled toward the door. "He's drunk," the mother said.
"He's sick," Maryann said. "And he's a policeman."
Her mother pushed her aside and blocked the door. "Help...," he said.
"Call 911. And he doesn't need cookies," her mother said pushing away the tray Maryann held.
"Yes sugar please," the man said, stuffing cookies into his mouth.
As his condition improved, Maryann said, "you need juice."
"You're a very smart girl. You know about diabetes."
"No," the girl said, "I just know."
"Thank you, I pulled a double shift so those with families could be home, and forgot to eat. I'll go now.
"No you won't," the mother said. "You need real food and rest. A look passed between the adults that made Maryann wonder if her other wish might come true.
The girl went off to bed with her cat to purr her to sleep. The adults became acquainted over scrambled egg whites, then slept, he and on the couch, she in her bed. I followed the mother, and as her eyes became heavy, gave her the memory of finding the super deluxe Young Doctor Kit on eBay for practically nothing.
"Excellent work, Sir Claws," Santa said. "Dr. Wendy has saved her first life."