Kathy was feeling uneasy. Jason had always shared everything with her. So why this sudden need for secrecy? She had been observing Jason and Santa. They seemed to be having a serious conversation. During the exchange, Santa had cast a few curious glances her way which served to fuel her imagination further. Was something troubling Jason? She just had to find out.
Daniel let out a long breath as he walked out of the main hall. What an interesting day this had turned out to be! He mused. In the short one hour, he had learned more about his assistant than in the past one year. He now understood the source of her quiet strength and resilience. One thing’s for sure, he’d never look at her the same way again.
“Errr...excuse me, Santa?” a familiar voice called out to him. He froze.
It was Kathy. She was wringing her hands, looking a little unsure.
“Yes, ma’am?” He tried to sound neutral.
“I’m sorry to bother you, but….could you please share with me what Jason had just told you?”
“I’m sorry ma’am, I just promised the boy to keep it a secret. But I can assure you, there is really nothing to worry about”
“But...its not like Jason to keep secrets from me! I’m worried he’s in some kind of trouble but is afraid to tell me. Please?? “ her eyes beseeched him.
Daniel relented. He took a step forward to pat her on the arm
“Ka…” he almost slipped up.
“There, there ma’am, I cannot share the exact details, but if you must know, Jason had wished for your happiness instead of asking for presents. You’ve got a gem of a boy there. I’d be very proud if I had a son like him. You’ve done a wonderful job raising him “
A wave of warmth enveloped Kathy. For the past few years she often had doubts on whether she was doing right by Jason. At the stranger’s kind words, she felt vindicated and encouraged. Tears of joy rolled down her cheeks as she leaned in to give him a hug.
Wiping her eyes, she looked up, a little embarrassed at this spontaneous outward display
“ Thank you, you have no idea how much that meant to me.”
It was only then that she had a good look at Santa. He looked much younger than she had initially made him out to be. As he was so good with the kids, she had presumed he was much older. Actually, he was probably just a few years older than herself. There was something familiar about his grey blue eyes though she was sure she couldn't have known him from anywhere.
Just then, the doors burst opened. The party had just ended and the children were going back to their rooms. They caught Kathy and Santa smack under a mistletoe and laughed gleefully as they chanted in unison
Kathy groaned inwardly. She should have kept her mouth shut about the mistletoe myth. This morning, Sr Maria and her had a hard time gathering the children for breakfast as they were busy taking turns going under the mistletoe.
“Wait!” a boy suddenly cried out, “But Santa is old!”
“It doesn’t matter right? The myth says guy to kiss girl under a mistletoe. Santa is a guy!” another voice reasoned matter of factly. The rest agreed in chorus.
They then formed ring around Santa around Kathy and continued chanting.
Daniel didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. By now, Kathy had turned a deep shade of red . She looked like she was ready to dig a hole in the ground. Seeing that the kids enthusiasm was not going to be abated anytime soon , he leaned over to whisper in her ear
“I don’t think they are going to let us off so easily. How about just a peck on the cheek?”
She nodded her consent, too embarassed for words .
He bent down to kiss her chastely on the cheek. Well, technically it was not a real kiss as his lips were obstructed by the fake beard. But the kids seemed satisfied and cheered.
Sister Maria snapped a picture of the hapless pair under the mistletoe. Her wise old eyes crinkled in amusement as she smiled to herself. Well, who’s the know what the future will bring for those two ? Perhaps God does work in mysterious ways.