I had a funny dream last night. I was a kid again and sitting on Santa's lap, peering expectantly into his startling Adriatic-blue eyes. But he remained silent, the weathered ageless features of his bearded face set in disquieted resolve.
Uneasily I asked, "No HO HO HO...no asking what I want for Christmas? What kind of Santa are you? Why did all those other kids run away from you crying?!"
"Tough year, kid," Santa finally spoke, his resonant voice sad and not so soothing. "No toys --- for anyone! I had to lay off all my elves, get rid of my reindeer. Even fired Mrs. Claus, a belly full, anyway."
"But...but how can there be Christmas without your toys?" I squawked. "We need those toys as a reward for being good and nice all year. I worked dam...darn hard at that. Only a few slip-ups."
Santa looked at me solemnly. "There are worst things in life, kid, than not getting toys on Christmas. Sorry, but good or not, I've been wiped out, like untold others. These are bad times! At least I'm telling you face-to-face."
"All that goodness for nothing," I sighed, disheartened. "I should have been naughty --- like kids really want to be. No toys, no being good!"
"The true Christmas spirit is giving gifts to others. Your parents, your uncles and aunts, others."
"But what gifts can I buy? I'm just a kid. I make no money."
"You receive an allowance."
"But that's measly!"
"You can supplement it by catching crickets and digging worms, selling them as fish bait. Anyway, the gift I have in mind doesn't cost much. And it's the perfect gift for this year; highly appreciated by those who receive it. They'll be thankful to you forever."
"What gift is that?" I squinted, really not believing what I was hearing.
"Your novel. Of Good And Evil."
"WHAT?!!" I squirmed on Santa's lap. "But...but I won't write that until many, many years from now. So how can I give it to anyone as a gift?!"
Santa finally smiled. "Remember, this is just a dream. Anything's possible in a dream."
Santa pulled out a sheet of paper from inside his red jacket.
"What's that?" I asked, more astonished than curious.
He now grinned broadly, eyeing me admiringly. "A review of your suspense thriller Of Good And Evil. By Tracey Alley. Like you, an author in the future."
"You carry around reviews?"
Santa broke into laughter, a loud, naturally infectious laugh. "In this dream, yes." Then calming down, he said, "Now listen. Let me read parts of it to you." He began reading:
"In order to be able to engage the reader from the opening paragraphs and hold their attention throughout, to be able to let the reader suspend their disbelief for the duration of the novel takes a special kind of talent. Gerald G. Griffin is an author with just such talent. In his brilliant thriller 'Of Good And Evil' he takes the reader on a wild ride with the real world as his background and makes the reader believe in his plot and characters."
I gawked at Santa startled. "Gosh, I did that?"
"Quiet. There's more." He read on:
"Gerald has given his audience a well-conceived story and delivered it with the talent of a born writer. He's also gone that step further that separates writers from great writers. He's worked hard at the mechanics of the novel so that the plot flows smoothly, the characters are believable and the reader is able to sit back and enjoy this page-turning thriller."
"Wow! This Tracey thinks I'm a great writer!"
"Will you hush, kid. Let me finish reading this." Santa continued:
" 'Of Good And Evil' has received several well deserved 5 star reviews. Ron Sheffield, Gerald's gifted but tormented main character, has everything a great writer needs to engage a reader on an emotional level. This is one of the gifts of a truly great story-teller."
Finished reading, Santa adamantly said to me "You see, what did I tell you? This is the gift! The gift of Christmas! The gift everyone should receive."
Santa once again broke into laughter, the laughter becoming spasms. Through his laughter, Santa quipped, "You see, kid, dreams too can become true. Merry Christmas!"