I believe in Santa Claus—mid fifties, yet I still cling to the fat guy in the red suit. Here’s why: I see generosity at Christmastime—love inspired generosity, St. Nicolas-style generosity—and that’s why I know he’s still out there sprinkling us with extraordinary goodwill. Since I’m a storyteller, I’m going to write about a Christmas when I experienced firsthand the magic of the “jolly old elf.”
Back in the ’80s I was an unpaid actress living with my sister in New York City. I had no money to buy presents—absolutely nothing—and no time to make them either. A friend got me a job stacking cards at Hallmark. There are probably a ton of you out there who have worked or are working in retail—it’s the hardest job in the world. At Hallmark we had to clock in and out, we were always under the eye of the store manager, the greeting cards were dusty and the break room was a miserable hovel in the basement. I’m petit, yet the job required hauling boxes of stuff up and down the stairs—backbreaking labor that wore me to the bone. And despite the exhaustion, the long hours and the immense boredom, the money I earned hardly put a dent in my miserable finances.
By December 23rd I still hadn’t purchased a single gift, and I was known for my presents—you can’t have a name like Elf and ignore the stuff that goes under the tree. Despair! Utter despair! And then Santa struck…
If you think of the chimney as the portal to the hearth, and the hearth as the heart of the home, then you can say that St. Nicholas slipped down the flue of a stranger’s brain and nestled in their blood pumping organ.
My sister was poor like me, but she had a job at Tiffany and that very afternoon a patron steeped in the Christmas spirit tipped her $100. Seeing me huddled on the couch, head clutched in my hands, my sister carefully slipped that bill onto the coffee table in front of me. My eyes, how they twinkled! My dimples how merry! My cheeks were like roses, my nose like a cherry!
A dozen times, at least, I’ve repaid my sister and not just with my gratitude. She was the person who inspired me to write romance, so if you read Lord Monroe’s Dark Tower, my psycho-thriller Regency romance, know that the heroine, Claire Albright, is based on my sweet, darling, Santa-infused sibling.
Elf Ahearn is the author of A Rogue in Sheep’s Clothing and Lord Monroe’s Dark Tower, the first two books in her series about the Albright sisters. She lives in New York with her husband and a pesky, yet adorable, cat.