Peter Eel and Santa Claus


An evening in December

It’s a beautiful evening in December. The outside temperature is so mild that no one can remember that they had such a warm December evening.
Peter and his little sister Suzie are sitting on the rickety bench in front of their house. Well, house, you can’t call it more than an uninhabitable house. The municipality wants that piece of land so that they can build there a new marina. Now and then they make it Peters parents very difficult and from time to time they increase the pressure with their threats. Father is resolute and he has no intention to move. One day father got so angry with the officer that he had thrown him into the water. She accused him of illegal eel fishing, and Father didn’t agree with it. He did not give in to their threats. Father had to go to court, which sentenced him for assaulting a civil servant. Peter did not think the judgment was fair and he is sure that they had done that to obtain possession of the piece of land on which their house stands.
The profession that Father exercises had passed from father to son, and it had now been going on for two hundred years. Peter also dreamed of becoming an eel fisherman, but he wants to do things differently than Pa does now.
At school, he is always the centre of bullying fellow students. He is harassed and the fact that his father has been in prison does not make things any rosy. In the bicycle shed, they push him in a corner, and they whispered all kinds of things in his ears. He often wondered how from who they got all that information, but it soon became clear to him. He understood that they were encouraged by their parents. The bullying was also always out of the sight of the teachers and when he complained about it, they always insisted that they had never said anything bad to him.
Once, mother had been to school to discuss it with the school management, but that had only made it worse. Peter had learned to deal with them, but from time to time he would prefer to throw them in the lake, just like his father had done with that civil servant.
He quickly put that annoyance away. He had seen where it had taken his father.
Fortunately, he currently has a very sweet teacher who understands him and helps him to progress.
“Peter, I want you to do your best at school and if you are having a hard time just put this pencil on my table. We can talk to each other after school, ” she had said one day.
This teacher temporarily replaces his teacher, who is expecting a child. His other teacher is okay, but not as sweet as this one. The knowledge that she is there for him strengthens his actions. Still, there are times when he can’t take it anymore, just like the time he hit a boy on his nose. He had hit him because he had called his mother a hooker. Blind with rage he had beaten him so hard that the blood spurted from out of his nose.
The teacher had separated the boys and she let them know that this was not acceptable. “Boy, I understand you, but this is not the way to solve the problem,” she said to Peter.
The next day, an officer stood on the doorstep of his cottage and he was taken without mercy. They brought him to the police station.
Father and mother did everything they could to get him out, but each time they were sent away.
In an office, Peter is offered to take a seat in front of several people, who are seated behind a large table. They question him in a friendly manner, but he does not answer any of them. Then they change tactics and threaten him that if he doesn’t answer their questions, he can’t go back home.
Peter shrugs and remains silent. His gaze is on his hands and he spins circles with his thumbs.
Soon he has to appear in court and when he enters the room, he is delighted to see that his teacher is also present. He gives her a slight smile and she gives him a loving nod.
The man who is sitting in his brown leather chair behind the large desk informs him that he is the judge. He asks him to tell him what is happened.
His teacher puts a hand against his cheek and says, “Peter, tell the judge why you did it. Share what you have been feeling all this time and how they have hurt you every day. It’s not right what you did, but you have to tell the judge. Do you want that?’
Peter gets up and humbly he bows before the judge and after a slight nod, he lets the judge know that he will tell everything.
“Sit down, Peter,” said the judge. “Tell your story calmly and take your time. I may occasionally ask you a question or why you did what you did. I want you to answer the question honestly.”
Peter replies bravely: “My mother always says. Adults who ask why are just like children. Why this, why that. I’m sorry Sir. Is that wrong?”
The judge replies with a slight smile and Peter nods shyly and looks at his teacher intently. She encourages him and says that it is okay and that he can calmly tell his story.
He starts confusingly to tell and the further he gets in his story, the better he gets himself under control. The teacher encourages him from time to time and the judge sits back, listening carefully to him. Sometimes he nods as if he says that he understands him. When Peter ends his story, he looks at his teacher and she smiles at him.
“Well, young man, that’s quite a story. I understand your mood swings, but we’re not supposed to hit it off. It wouldn’t make the world any better. There is no other option than to punish you, “says the judge, rubbing his snow-white beard and looking deeply at the teacher.
The teacher nods understandingly, but Peter sees a problem. No one would believe him if he said he would never do it again. Disappointed, he looks at the ground. He has a strong feeling that the teacher has now also dropped him.
“Peter, do you regret what you did. This question is very important to your punishment? “
Peter looks convincingly at the teacher and then again at the judge. He bows his head, and he has no idea how to answer the question and then the judge repeats the question.
Peter straightens his back and looks the judge and his teacher straight in the eye and says: “Do you want me to be honest?”
“Yes boy, that’s the intention. Lying is of no use to you and I will find out anyway.”
“Sir…. No, I don’t regret it, but I will never do it again. I’m taking my lesson from this.”
The teacher looks at him in confusion and the judge does not understand where he gets that wisdom from and looks at the teacher with raised eyebrows.
“It must be the wrong answer, but I will say it honestly, otherwise I would have to lie. I got that wisdom from my parents, although I did not always want to believe them, now that I am standing here, I know that they are right, and I now make use of it. Sorry.’
The judge has trouble holding back his laughter and staying serious, but he is impressed. “Okay, you are honest and, in my eyes, sincere, but I have to punish you. I could choose to give you fourteen weeks of disciplinary school or fourteen days of solitary confinement.”
Peter is shocked by this and does not understand that if you are honest that you will still be given such a severe punishment and the judge will see that in his face.
“Peter, they are severe punishments, but a disciplinary school, believe me, it will not help you. Then it remains fourteen days of solitary confinement. No, that seems so lonely to me, so we won’t do that either.” The judge sees from Peter’s face that he is relieved.
No, I have a much better punishment that I’m going to give you. It’s tough, but if you stick with it, you’ll be well rewarded. Yes, you heard it right, get rewarded. In a week it’s Christmas Eve and I know you and your dad don’t believe in Santa Claus. You don’t have to, but if you don’t accept my offer, I’ll still have to choose one of the first two penalties.”
Even though Peter does not know what the assignment is, that reward is very tempting, and nobody can demand that he believe in Santa Claus.
“I accept your proposal but believe in Santa….”
“That’s very honest of you. You don’t have to believe in him, as long as you do the job well.
It is an assignment that is very important and very responsible, and it should certainly not go wrong. You’re a rascal, but I’ll tell you what’s meant to be. First, it is a secret between you, your teacher and me. As soon as you tell anyone about your assignment, our agreement will expire, and you will be eligible for a more severe penalty. Do you understand what I mean?’
For a moment Peter does not know what to do, but when he looks at his teacher, he sees that she nods to him in agreement.
“I’ll take the assignment and do my best, but you can’t expect me to believe in Santa, I don’t. Santa, where are we talking about?”
The judge nods and tells him what to do during the week to Christmas Eve. He explains to him that the global is warming up and that’s the cause that the North Pole is melting and that the home of Santa and all his associates has almost melted away. “They have been forced to move to the South Pole. The reindeer are completely lost and possibly they cannot deliver the Christmas presents on time. Their sense of direction is upset, and Santa is worried that Christmas Eve will not be able to continue this year. The worst thing about all of this is that Santa has retired the reindeer. Don’t look at me so unbelievable Peter. Just because you and your dad don’t believe in Santa doesn’t mean that the others, don’t either. You’re the only one who can save Christmas Eve, then just do it for the other kids. Yes, I know that you maybe don’t care, but assume that there are also very sweet children. Just think of your sister. Well, what do you think? Think about it carefully and then decide whether or not Santa Claus exists, “and for the first time he addresses Peter sternly. “What do you have to say to this?”
Peter looks at him dubiously. He has a choice, but…? I should make the best of it, he thinks
He leaves the building together with his teacher and she brings him home by car. She lets him out and greets him. Then she drives away and Peter walks to the house. There he sees that nothing has changed. On the table is the meagre food that is served every evening. Father and mother do their best, but there is simply not enough money. He looks at his father and asks, “Dad, doesn’t Santa exist?”
Father shakes his head at him but doesn’t answer.
Suzie puts a hand on his arm and whispers: “I don’t know? If Santa is around, I think he should provide some more food first or we’ll get sick,” and she eagerly takes a bite of the grey peas.
Mother looks at him in surprise and shrugs. What a question, she thinks. Again, Peter gives his father a questioning look, but he remains silent.
Then it’s bedtime and he has to go to his sober bedroom. Once he was with a boyfriend, who later turned out to be not a boyfriend at all, then he heard that he was not allowed to play with him anymore. Sad as he was, he hadn’t let it show and shrugged.
That boy had everything you could wish for as a child. When Peter saw the enormous train track, that his friend had, his eyes had looked puzzled. On the other hand, it was a good thing that he was not allowed to hang out with him anymore. At least he couldn’t marvel at that train track anymore, Peter chuckles

“Come on, Peter, wake up. It’s time. Can you call Suzie, then I will prepare a sandwich for you both?”
He does what Mother asks and gets dressed quickly. His sandwich is indeed ready in the kitchen. Today there is only some margarine on it and with a pain in his stomach, he walks to school with Suzie.
He notices that nothing has changed in the attitude of his classmates. They still whisper and scold him. The teacher is also busy as usual and for a moment he wonders whether it has all been a dream. One thing he did learn from his dream is that he shouldn’t let himself be lured out of his tent.
During the break, he sits down on the wall and then suddenly a girl comes and sits next to him whom he does not know.
‘Hi, I am Emma. I live in the village at the end of the road, “and she reaches out to him. ‘What is your name?’
“Peter, but they call me Peter Eel. That’s because my father is an eel fisherman. Oh yeah, and he was in jail for throwing someone from the town hall in the lake. So…. You know that immediately. Then you don’t have to hear that from the others,” and he looks at her with one eye.
“I can, but I can decide who I associate with. You know my daddy, “and she starts to chuckle. “My father once threw his manager into the water, but he didn’t have to go to jail for that. Aren’t you that Peter who lives by the lake? That place that everyone wants. It’s so beautiful there. I have been there many times with my parents. What I know is that they want to build a harbour there and they want to build expensive villas around it, but it can also be a rumour.”
It was the first time that Peter heard about those plans, but he immediately believed her. That would explain why they put such pressure on his parents. His little brains were running at full speed. He quickly jumps off the wall and runs off the schoolyard. Behind him he hears Emma shouting: “Peter, where are you going all of a sudden, school starts like this and I don’t want you to get in trouble?”
He turns around and understands that he is reacting way too quickly again, and he was determined not to do that again. “You’re right Emma, thank you. I hope you can be a real friend to me,” and he looks shyly at her, knowing he is going to be disappointed again.
“My feeling is good, but it also depends on you whether we can be friends. That’s not easy,” Emma replies.
In class, Emma is introduced to the children and the teacher asks where she wants to sit. The children, whose seat next to them is still free, shout that she can come and sit with him or her. Emma looks around and her gaze falls on the empty space next to Peter. Her choice was quickly made.
“I like to sit next to Peter,” she said.
It becomes very quiet in the classroom and a few girls whisper to her that she shouldn’t do that, but Emma proudly walks up to Peter and sits down next to him at the table. She looks at him sideways and sees that he is beaming.
As always, Peter does his best to answer the questions asked by the teacher and often he is the only one in the class who knows the answers. Emma is happy that she chose to sit next to him and together they complement each other well. What Peter does not know, Emma knows. They take the angry looks of the others for granted. Together they are a strong team. Only Peter does not fully understand why the others have left him alone since Emma’s arrival.

The day has come that the Christmas holidays begin, and the two friends agree to continue their meeting during the holidays. Peter wants that, but he doesn’t dare to take her to his house. He now knows that she lives in a nice house and that they have a good life at home, and he is afraid that she would still leave him if she saw what his house was like. Of course, it is clean and tidy at his house and father and mother always do their utmost for that, but they were simply very poor, and father did not make much money from fishing.

“Is there something Peter? Do you want to hang out with me now that the Christmas holiday is approaching? Hey…., Do you hear what I’m asking you. I will never abandon you. I promise.”

He looks at her shyly and tells her that they are very poor and that he cannot offer her anything. “I’m afraid you will leave me with an excuse like the others. You know, I’m going to help my dad.” He knows that’s a lie, but what else can he say. “Sorry, that’s not true.”

Emma sees a tear is rolling down his cheeks and puts an arm around him and says softly, “Peter, I like you and sincere. Indeed, I don’t know how it feels to be poor but being rich can also be very lonely. If you trust me, then I trust you. I am going home now, or my mother will be worried. I will come to you this afternoon. We still have a lot to talk about,” she kisses him on the cheek and then she runs home.

Peter looks after her. He is happy but knows that this can be over by this afternoon. Yes, we are poor, but she doesn’t know how poor we are, he thinks.

At home, he just sees his father coming off the boat with eel and he tackles the catch from him.

“Today I managed to get some for ourselves, but it is getting less and less. Come on, let’s get them ready to smoke. Do you want to help me whit it?”

“Of course, Dad.”

They walk home together and when they arrive at the door, they see Mother staring with tears in her eyes at a sheet of paper nailed on the door.

“What do we get now,” asks father? When he reads what is on the paper he is also shocked.

“The municipality has declared the house uninhabitable and we must have left the house on Christmas Eve or we will be evicted by the police,” said father.

Peter says that it is rumoured that the municipality wants to use the land to build a harbour and to build expensive homes.

“Yes man, we should have taken the money and the other house. Now we most likely get nothing. What now,” says mother?”

Peter takes his sister’s hand and tells her to leave mom and dad alone for a while.

“We’re not going to move, are we, Peter?” asks Suzie and crawls close to him and looks at him sadly.

He has no idea what to say to her and takes her outside for a short walk. When they return home, he sees his parents sitting silently by the stove.

“Can you take care of the eel?” Mother asks and gives him a faint smile.

Before he goes outside, he looks back for a moment and sees that mother is drying her tears.

He sits down on the bench under the window. He carefully cleans the eel and stitches them on a wooden stick.

“Hi Peter, I’m here. What are you doing,” he hears Emma asking?

He explains to her what he is doing and when he’s done with that, he goes in and lets his dad know he’s done.

“Thank you, boy, you’re the best. And who is that girl who is behind you?”

Emma introduces herself to everyone and sits down next to Suzie. They quickly get along well together. “Now I have to talk to Peter.”

Suzie thinks it’s a shame but understands her best. Especially when she promises to visit her again soon.

Emma and Peter are walking on the dyke together and Peter ask her what she wants

“Well, just. I want to be a friend, also to your sister. Come on, Peter trust me or quit yourself. We need to see if we can reverse everything. I have a plan, although I don’t know if it will work, you have to cooperate,” and looks at him quizzically.

“Of course, I cooperate, but maybe I have a plan myself. Do you believe in Santa Claus?”

“No, not like the others. And you, do you believe in Santa Claus?”

“No, neither do I,” Peter replies.

“Come on, Peter, we’re going to the town hall. I have a plan, “and she explains to him what she wants to accomplice with it.

Together they discuss how they can get the result, but at the town hall, they are sent away by the receptionist. She tells them that they are far too young to be received by the mayor. Emma will not be removed, lay on the floor and is screaming. Peter sits next to her and tells the receptionist that if they are not allowed to speak to the mayor, Emma will keep screaming until they can speak to the mayor.

Suddenly the mayor stands in front of them and asks, “What’s going on here?”

The receptionist tells him that they just came in and that they disturb the town hall. “They want the cost, what cost to speak to you.”

“What’s your problem,” the mayor asks?

Emma gets up and says: “We want to talk to you, if you are the mayor, otherwise we will scream again.”

“I am the one and only mayor. I will speak to you, but if you are telling nonsense, I will throw you out of the town hall and have you both locked up.”

Dubiously looks Peter at him and hopes that it goes well. He shouldn’t think about being taken to the police station again.

The mayor asks them to follow him and he kindly asks them to sit.

With admiration, Peter and Emma look around the room and take place in one of the comfortable chairs.

“Tell me what’s so important,” asks the mayor?

Peter humbly bows his head and tells what happened and that they have to leave their home on Christmas Eve. Emma also joins the conversation and says that they don’t deserve this.

The mayor listens to the story with interest. “I understand the problem, but I can’t turn it back,” he replies.

“Then you are a mayor of nothing,” Peter shouts angrily. “Your municipality only thinks about money and income. And to the rich, who want to have a villa built there. My parents and my sister Suzie mean nothing to you, “Peter sobs and can no longer hold back his tears.

The mayor is impressed by his grief and Emma sees it too.

“But mayor, you say there is nothing you can do about it. Still, Peter has an offer for you and I’m sure you can’t refuse it.”

Emma nudges Peter and encourages him to articulate his proposal. “Oh yes, um…., I….,” Peter stutters. “If we replace our uninhabitable home on Christmas Eve, then you don’t proceed with the eviction. I know we are taking a gamble, but you have to give my parents a chance. “Peter looks at the mayor sadly and knows very well that the plan is unlikely to succeed. The mayor and he look at each other and then the mayor suddenly says.

“Deal, but if you lose, don’t whine or stand on the sidewalk again and get out now.”

“Well no, mayor. We want to have this promise in black and white, “says Emma. “If not, we’ll stay here. Fair is fair.”

For a moment, the mayor gives them a dubious look but eventually gives in. For the mayor, it is almost certain that they cannot possibly fulfil the agreement.

The document is issued by the mayor and provided with his signature.

Peter folds the document into four and puts it in his pocket. He and Emma leave the town hall excited.

On the way to Peter’s house, they chat about everything. “Do you know that the North Pole is melting, and that Santa’s shelter is melting too,” Emma suddenly asks?

“But you don’t believe in Santa,” answered Peter.

Emma shrugs and says, “I don’t know, I heard it somewhere, but if it is true, he won’t be coming this year. I also know that I’m just talking some nonsense, but still. What do you think? No… stupid. You certainly don’t believe in it. Santa Claus has probably never visited you in the past and you and Suzie have never received a present. Sorry, Peter.”

Peter shrugs and is silent. Emma whispers that it will be all right.

When he comes home and sees the warrant still hanging, he wonders where to go next. All the houses they were offered in recent years had been rejected by his parents.

His parents are sitting in front of the stove, which father managed to buy last year for almost nothing. The previous one had been so old, and father no longer trusted him and went looking for a new one. Then he had run into an old friend who was installing central heating in his house and Father was able to take over his old stove. It turned out to be a good buy. The stove is giving them quite a bit of heat.

Suzie sits between them and lovingly plays with her doll. Emma asks if she can see the doll, but Suzie holds her tight against her.

“I just want to look at her, but you’re right. Hold her tight,” she says to Suzie,

“We should be able to make a wish,” Emma says, looking at them one by one. “Why not, it can’t hurt. If you don’t shoot, you don’t score, right?”

No one responds and she decides to keep her mouth shut. I understand best, she thinks. I can talk easily. I’ll be going home, where we have enough money and food and where every cent does not have to be turned over ten times.

“I wish…. What are wishes Emma, “Suzie suddenly asks?

“That is when you ask for something that you want, to see, or would like to have. I would wish you a nice home,” Emma replies.

Suzie looks at Emma with narrowed eyes and says: “Then I wish that Daddy catches a lot of eels again and that my doll is made. Just look at her dress, she is full of patches. Just like Peter’s pants.”

Peter also makes a wish. “Then I wish that if all the wishes come true, there would be ice on the lake on New Year’s Eve.”

“And fireworks,” calls Suzie.

“Yes, fireworks for my sister too,” adds Peter.

“Honey, what do you wish for, even though you don’t believe in Santa Claus. No, not shake your head now. You heard what Emma said: “If you don’t shoot, you don’t score,” whispers Peter’s mother. “Come on honey, don’t screw it up. If you don’t want anything, our wishes may not come through. I wish that we stay healthy and we need vitamins for that. Eel alone does not keep us healthy. What do you wish, “she asks almost pleadingly?

Suzie climbs onto her father’s lap and takes his hand. “You as well want my doll to be like new again, don’t you?”

There comes a smile on his face and in order not to disappoint his daughter, he decides to participate. “I wish that all your wishes come true. So, now I’m going to see how my fish traps are and whether there is anything in them.”

When he gets to the front door, he pulls the command off the door and rips it into pieces.

“Let’s go to my house, Peter. It is a short walk on the dyke, but then we can have a nice chat.”

Peter doesn’t feel like it at all, but he knows that he can’t make it to let her go alone and together they walk across the dyke to Emma’s house.

The temperature is pleasant for the time of year and there is still a lot of activity on the lake. The view is beautiful, and they can’t get enough of it. The fishing village where Emma lives comes insight and they see a few ships entering the harbor. These fishermen are also troubled by the decline in eel stocks, but they can still keep their heads above water with the bycatch. When they are at Emma’s house, Peter feels an unpleasant feeling in his stomach. Emma’s mother is already waiting for her and she greets them kindly.

“Hello, who do we have there,” she asks softly?

“That’s Peter, Mom. He is my best friend. I sit next to him in the class and it is very pleasant and much nicer at this school than the previous one. Peter lives in that house by the lake. His parents are very nice. You know, they are very poor, and the municipality has declared their home uninhabitable. They have to leave their home on Christmas Eve.”

Peter holds his breath and is afraid that he will be sent away for the umpteenth time.

“Oh … you’re not serious. Have they gone completely crazy? It can’t be, “Emma’s mother replies angrily. “You go and play. I hope it is not too bad and that you will be getting another house soon.”

Peter shrugs and follows Emma to her room. There he looks his eyes out. He hasn’t even seen that many toys in the small toy shop in their village. There is a tablet on her bed and Emma hands it to him.

“Here …, this one is for you. I just got a new one from my father. When he’s on tour he always brings me something.”

“Emma, that’s very sweet, but it is of no use to me. We don’t have the internet anyway.”

“Okay, you know what, I’ll just keep it for you,” Emma replies.

Peter does not feel comfortable and wants to go home as soon as possible. There he feels safe despite the poverty. Emma is nice, but he doesn’t know how to behave in her house.

“You want to go home, don’t you,” Emma asks. “Go quickly, it is still light. I’ll pick you up tomorrow, okay?”

The next morning there is a loud banging on the door and not much later Emma is standing in front of him. “Come on, Peter, we have to go outside. I have something to tell you that could be very important to you.”

Peter dresses quickly and immediately goes with her. “What’s so important,” he asks?

“Let’s go for a walk on the dyke. You know this morning it said in the newspaper that the mayor still wants to continue the construction of the port. That means that that note does not matter. We’ve just been tricked, “Emma replies.

Peter feels in his pocket and can no longer find the note. “I must have lost it, there is no other way.”

Maybe that note never came, just like that judge with his strange sentence. He understands that they will have to leave their home in a few days. “Was all this just a dream,” he whispers?

“Dream, what dream,” asks Emma?

Peter wants to tell it, but he had promised the judge and the teacher to remain silent and he keeps that. “Oh, nothing,” he replies.

In Emma’s village, they scurry along the harbor and Emma tells about her father, who is away a lot. “You know Peter, being rich also has its downside. Sometimes he is so tired and then I just leave him alone for a while. And then you also have the tabloids, they always think they know everything. They attack him and when he says something again, they misinterpret it. They put great headlines on the front page, but what they write is wrong.”

Peter looks at her with concern. He may not have known her that long, but now she sounds a bit gloomy. “My mother has also read such a gossip magazine. She had received a stack from a neighbor. You’re right. When you read the stories, nothing is be told. I think we can write much nicer pieces at school.”

Emma looks at him in silence for a moment and says, “Gosh, where are you getting it, but you’re absolutely right. Maybe we should do something with that when we get back to school. I hope you get a new house soon; I mean that. Your father, I think, like mine, is a sweetheart. Even though he comes across as a grumbler.”

Peter confirms it and replies: “Your father will also be fine.”

By the time it gets dark he walks back home. He sees the sun sink under the bilge and sits down on the bench by the water for a while. He cannot imagine that they would soon no longer have shelter and that they would no longer live by the lake.

Suddenly a few people in dark clothes pass by. Their face is covered and then one stops in front of him and asks if he is Peter Eel. Peter nods.

“You will soon be able to give yourself up,” the person says and then continues.

Peter does not understand anything about it, but he does not need at all to know how others think about him.

Not much later he smells a strange smell. It seems as if something is on fire and he looks around searchingly. Suddenly he understands where the air comes from and he sees that their house is on fire. He runs up to it and realizes that his parents and Suzie might be inside. He runs in and looks around searchingly. Shouts, but gets no answer. Peter runs from one room to another and tries to avoid the burning pieces, but he cannot find anyone. Except for the hamster that he picks up and then he sees Suzie’s doll, he quickly picks it up too and then he brings himself to safety. He only hopes that he has searched well and that there is no one in the house. He looks defeated at the burning house and he hears the crackling of the wood. Not much later it falls on the ground like a house of cards. He sits down on the bench again and his whole body shakes with shock and rage. He is sure that they set the house is fire, there is no other way. Then he noticed something strange. In the middle of the lake, he sees lights looming straight up towards him. He stands at the edge of the lake and looks in amazement at something that has a strange shape in the moonlight.

“Hey, are you Peter,” is someone calling from the strange object?

Peter thinks about whether he will say yes and again the person asks: “Are you Peter or not? Otherwise, we must wait for him, please answer?”

“I’m Peter,” he shouts timidly, not knowing whether he is doing any good here.

“Good, we have big problems with Santa, and he says that you can be found here. So, here we are.”

Peter wants to ask why, but he is immediately summoned on board. He quickly steps on that strange thing and sees a little man who tells him to come along. Peters thoughts are running at full speed. You’re not going to tell me that these are real dwarfs or midgets, he thinks.

When he climbs in and follows the male, he enters a huge space. There he sees several of those little creatures. There is a lot of activity. Too much to comprehend so suddenly.

He sees a lot of toys and packers. Technical equipment that is constantly on the move. He gazes out his eyes and then suddenly someone takes his hand.

“Please come with me. We have no time to waste. It is important that we must give all children a nice Christmas. Let’s go straight to Santa. You may be able to persuade him to take action. You know, he retired the reindeer in a fit of madness. He thought he wouldn’t need them anymore. That is the biggest and stupidest mistake he has made in those hundreds of years. We need the reindeer now more than ever. The reindeer say they’ve been retired, and retirement is retirement, they say, and I can’t even blame them,” says the male.

They arrive at a high and wide door and enter without knocking. There Peter sees Santa Claus lying in his bed. At the request of a woman, he shyly walks to Santa Claus.

“Oh, you are Peter. Welcome, I called you in because I think you are the only one who can help us. You know Peter, I am desperate. Peter, are you also a companion of my colleague Sint-Nicolas who always takes care of the children in Holland? Well, Peter, Nicolas is a very sweet colleague, who spoils the children,” whispers Santa. “He is very sad because there are people who grudge the pleasure of others and do not understand the concept. Anyway, I just hope that it is not our turn after this and that our good intentions, like those of Nicolas, are not questioned. Some people would you…,” but he quickly stops talking when he sees his wife tell him Peter hasn’t come to hear this.

Peter nods and asks what he can do that not Santa can do?

“It’s like this,” and the emotions prevent Santa Claus from speaking. His wife asks if he would like to wait in the hall and that she would come to him in a minute.

“You know, my husband needs to rest. He has a burn-out, as people call it. Well now he just hates himself for misjudging everything,” she whispers in Peter’s ear. “But that remains among us, right?”

“Definitely, my mouth is locked,” answered Peter, gesturing as if throwing a key away. Calmly he walks out of the room and closes the door behind him.

Several dwarfs approach him in the hallway and ask how Santa is doing.

“I don’t know, but I have no idea why he chose me for this. What are you? Dwarves, Lilliputians, little people, elves or gnomes?”

“Whatever you want, we’ll all help Santa,” one of the guy’s answers.

“We take you because you are smart. If it weren’t for that, Santa Claus would never have picked you up.”

“Santa Claus, can I hear that well?”

“Yes, but Mrs Santa took over because Santa let things get out of hand”, says a dark-skinned dwarf.

Peter looks around and he notices that all the helpers come from different parts of the world.

“You think we are a bit strange, don’t you,” one of them asks. “I am from South Africa.”

“And I from India,” shouts another. “I worked in the circus, but then my boss died, and the circus went bankrupt. Santa took me in and each of us has our own story. “

Peter is very impressed by all those stories. Suddenly Mrs Santa is standing in front of him and asks if he already has a solution. Peter shrugs and then one of the helpers tells her that it is their fault that Peter does not have a solution yet. After all, they had distracted him with their stories.

“We have to find a solution, or the children will be the victims of all this,” says Mrs Santa.

“Yes,” sobs one of the dwarfs. “Otherwise, our party on New Year’s Day will also fall to pieces. Every year we celebrate together with all the assistants from Sint-Nicolas, oh sorry, now I have revealed it again. Sint-Nicolas has had to send several helpers away and they are not very well off now, just like at your home. That’s why Peter, that’s why we chose you to save Christmas Eve. “

“Yes, dear ones. We have to find a solution. There is no point in complaining, we have to get to work, “says Mrs Santa and gives Peter a questioning look.

“You can look at me now, but why do you think I would know the solution. I also have no idea how we can fix this problem. Now tell me what’s the biggest problem. Then we can see what is and what is not important. I heard that the reindeer are being retired.”

“That’s right,” replies Mrs Santa. “We can’t find them anywhere, even though they are all microchipped.”

‘Then what is the problem? Then you just look them up, “asks Peter.

“Well…,” says an elf and takes a step forward. “The problem is that the device with which we can trace them has been lost.”

“Who controls that device,” asks Peter?

“Stupid Dommis,” shouts one of the others.

“Stupid Dommis,” why do you call him that?”

“I wanted that so myself,” replies an elf and he pushes the other one aside and stands in front of Peter.

‘Why. Do you think you’re so stupid,” asks Peter?

“I’m not stupid, but I just think it’s a nice name. Dommis, Dommis Dommis. Santa made me think of a name and I liked and this one I like, that’s why my name is Dom Dommis. Just kidding, my name is just Dommis.

“Okay,” answered Peter. “But what kind of work do you do?”

“I clean up everything. Anything the others don’t use anymore, “Dommis explains.

“Yes, anyone who is not too smart can do that,” shouts one of the helpers.

Peter starts laughing out loud and then answers: “And you think it is smart to give Dommis everything, which he then throws away. Is your name sometimes Slimmis?”

They look at him not understanding and then Mrs Santa intervenes and says that Dommis is not stupid at all. He made up the name himself because he likes it, but he is certainly not stupid.”

Peter asks Dommis if he also keeps things and Dommis sign him that he must come along. Together they take place on a kind of cart and then they flash away whit an enormous speed. Peter does not understand where he is and how it is possible that it is so big here. Suddenly they stop and Dommis shows him where he stores and keeps everything. Peter looks around and sees so much rubbish that he suspects that they will not find what they are looking for. Ahead he sees the stables that are abandoned.

“That are the stables form Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Comet, Vixen, Cupid, Donder, Rudolf and Blitzen,” says Dommis. “We don’t understand why they are retired. I think that it has also a bit to do with Sint-Nicolas, who in the Netherlands receives a lot of criticism because some of his helpers are black, but that comes from the soot in the smokestack. Santa is now worried that they will target him and his helpers, because some of us are black too from the soot.”

“Yes, I know all about that,” answered Peter. “But now we have to find the reindeer. Do you know where you put the device so that we can trace where they are?”

Dommis rubs his chin and thinks carefully. Suddenly he raises a finger, and a smile appears around his mouth. He reaches for his tablet, which is on his desk.

“Oh, do you have a tablet,” asks Peter?

“Yes, I still have so much stuff to convert into data and this is more convenient than all those books we used to have to write them in. That’s a shame it hasn’t been categorized yet. Then we have to search the old-fashioned way.”

“Oh dear … is that going to take a long time?”

“Well if you keep asking questions, yes. Come on, Peter, let’s get started. I’m going for chip finder. Yes, let’s try that first.”

They walk past the alphabetically arranged drawers and open them one by one. When they search under the chip, they discover that it is stored under the code 112-hour-reindeer. They soon found the tracking device.

“Well, that’s quite a relief Dommis. You are indeed not stupid. Let’s take the device to Mrs Santa right away.”

Mrs Santa is happy to see them and Dommis connects the device. Peter cannot believe his eyes. He doesn’t understand what kind of place this is. He sees the most modern ultra-equipment around him with the very latest techniques, of which he does not understand.

A world map appears on the big screen and not much later they discover eight small dots. That must be the reindeer.

“Oh dear … we have a big problem,” shouts the Mrs Santa. “They roam Finland. How do we get them here as soon as possible? We cannot use the sleigh because it does not fly without the reindeer. Because they are a unity.”

“Then we have to pick them up,” Peter suggests. “I assume this thing can sail or fly with all its equipment. Believe me, we need to hurry. It looks like one of the reindeer has fallen through the ice.”

Dommis zooms in a bit closer and to their horror, they see that one of the reindeer is indeed already in the water and that the others are standing on floating floes.

“We have to hurry,” calls Peter and looks questioningly at Mrs Santa.

The helpers gather and understand that they need to act quickly now that Comet is floundering in the water and the other reindeer are also in danger. Imagine if something were to happen to them, they would be lost. Sadly, they ask Peter to do something.

Peter looks around desperately and then decides to speak to them. He stands on a platform and speaks to them. They look gloomy at him and do not understand what he wants from them.

Peter asks Dommis to go to the control room. Dommis nods and together they walk to the bridge. There, Peter sees that, despite its ultramodern equipment, the bridge has an old-fashioned appearance. Santa Claus probably feels very comfortable here, although Peter thinks that a lick of paint would fix it up a bit. Anyway, he wasn’t here for that, he thinks.

Mrs Santa comes up to him and tells him that she is a bit worried about Santa. All he wants is to sleep and be left alone.

“We have to solve that problem later,” Peter replies and Mrs Santa nods.

Peter does not understand all those screens and buttons and Mrs Santa asks: What is your plan?”

“We have to go to the reindeer, but I have no idea how this craft works,” he replies.

“Let me do it,” says Mrs Santa and she sets the colossus in motion. She deftly enters the coordinates to their destination. “Okay…, Peter, here we go.”

“If the others at school could see this. Nobody would believe this. You are steering the craft. How cool!’

Mrs Santa smiles at him. “I’ve never thought about that before. Pretty good huh?”

Slowly the craft comes out of the water and through the porthole Peter sees his parents and Suzie standing in front of their burnt-out house. He sighs relief. They are still alive, and he asks Mrs Santa if he can let him know where he is.

“I’m sorry Peter, we are standing in the invisible mode. No one should know we’re here. Believe me, it will all be fine. If you manage to save Christmas Eve, you will be well rewarded.”

He looks at her in surprise and for a moment he thinks he recognizes his teacher’s voice, where that not the same words that the judge had spoken to him. Unfortunately, there is no time to think about this further. The sound of the buzzing engines gives him a great feeling. The craft rises to a great height, so high that he can almost see the entire earth. It does not take long for the vessel to descend and the ice floes to become visible. Above the water, the vessel slows down and then they see the reindeer coming to sight. They see two of them drifting off the ice and the others can do nothing else than but watch.

“What now, Peter,” asks Mrs Santa.

“We have so many modern gadgets available, but no plan to save the reindeer. That is stupid. Can’t we beam them up, as I saw in one of those movies?”

“Those are fables, Peter, but you are right. We have failed to build a system in which we can save others. Do you have one? “

“We will have to do on it the old-fashioned way,” replies Peter.

‘And that is?’

“Just with a drag-net. We lower them, throw them around them and then hoist them up.”

“Drag-nets, we have them,” shouts one of the elves. “Come to the cargo area,” he shouts.

“Don’t forget to secure the drag-net, otherwise we will lose it. It has to work in one go. Hurry up, we don’t have much time left, “says Peter.

They have contact with the cargo area via the intercom and Peter gives the orders from the bridge. “You drop the drag-net at my mark,” he told the helpers in the cargo area. He orders Mrs Santa to fly a little lower. “Yes, you are doing well, it is better. Just a few more meters. “He shouts.

They have contact with the cargo area via the intercom and Peter gives the orders from out the bridge. “Drop the net at my mark,” he says to the helpers in the cargo area. He orders Mrs Santa to fly a little lower. “Yes, you’re doing well, that is better. Still just a few more meters,” he shouts.

They hear the ice-floes cracking and pounding against each other. Blitzen and Comet fight for their lives. “Hold on, guys. Hold on for a while,” he encourages them.

“Just a little bit forward, just a little bit more,” he orders Mrs Santa. Drop it, now,” he commands the helpers below.

The helpers in the cargo drop the net, but the wind is strong and the drag-net blows away from the reindeer. Before it is too late Peter collects all his courage to try again.

“Now 10 meters forward,” asks Peter, and the Mrs Santa follows his order again.

The drag-net closes around the reindeer and then Peter shouts: “Quickly, quickly…. Pull?”

With all power, they pull the line tight and then the line is pulled around a winch with a few strokes so that the reindeer can be pulled into the cargo area. When they are safe and sound onboard there is a deafening noise. All helpers clap for Peter, who is embarrassed by it.

“Thank you, Peter. This is quite a relief, says Mrs Santa. “Well done, all of you.”

The reindeer are taken care of. Comet walks to Peter and whispers. “Thank you for saving us. That whole retirement thing was not for me. “I am glad to be back,” he whispers.

Dommis pulls on Peter’s sleeve and points to the winch that they used to hoist the animals in the cargo area. “Fortunately, I would not have cleaned them up yet, otherwise it had ended very differently, right?”

Peter agrees and asks Mrs Santa. ‘What now?’

“Good question Peter, what now? I think we have to prepare the sleigh with the reindeer.”

Peter understands what she means and passes the order on to one of the elves who are responsible for the maintenance of the sleigh.

Mrs Santa hugs the reindeer one by one and says: “Fortunately, everything turned out well. Santa should never have let all of you retire, but we’ll talk about that later. I hope so that all of you can save Christmas Eve.”

“We will do our best for this,” replies Blitzen. “We didn’t like it anyway, without all our friends and we are happy to be with you again.”

“We don’t have time for all those emotions now,” whispers Peter. “Let’s load up the presents. At least if they all fit in?”

None of them answers that question and starts loading the presents. Peter can’t help but wonder again where they leave all those presents. Probably that sledge is as spacious as the airship, or submarine, whatever it may be. On the door, he sees a picture of the ship and he notices that it looks a lot like a ray. He looks around inquisitively and has to admit that the room is indeed very low and flat. It can barely stand in it, but it is huge.

“Come on, Peter, get in. Let’s go and I hope we can make it,” shouts Mrs Santa.

The sleigh flies through the air at great speed. Peter hardly gets the time to see where he is. Suddenly the sledge slows down, and he sees that they are in the village where Emma lives. Christmas gifts are also delivered to Emma’s house. Where the gifts cannot go down the chimney, they are placed at the front, or back door or in the yard.

It is a heavy and tiring evening for everyone, but in the end, they finished on time. Mrs Santa shines with happiness and when they are back on-board Peter sees the other rays of happiness as well. They sing the most beautiful songs he has ever heard. Suddenly someone is pulling on his sleeve and their stands an elf in front of him. The elf is dressed all in black and his face is black as soot. For a moment he thinks it is one of the helpers from Africa, but then he recognizes his voice and his generous laugh. Peter bursts out laughing.

“Say, Peter, why are you laughing at me. It’s Dommis.”

“I’m not laughing at you Dommis. I’m laughing at something even more stupid than I thought.”

‘What do you mean. Explain! Am I stupid after all?”

“No, on the contrary. I laugh about you are being so black. If I didn’t know better, I would think you are one of the helpers of Sint Nicolas. I have to laugh about that. I shouldn’t do that because the helpers of Sint Nicolas are having a hard time, because they can’t be black anymore. Some people do not understand that it is black from the soot, because they go into the chimney to deliver the package. And that is very unfortunate. I hope that that bickering will be over very soon and that everyone will enjoy it again.

“I hope so too,” says Mrs Santa. “You know our elves, dwarfs, you name it comes from everywhere. My husband and I wouldn’t know what to do without them. We are all fine, but the pressure of all the problems in the world is not doing my husband any good. Fortunately, he has a good relationship with his friend Nicolas, and they will work it out together. Soon after the holidays in the new year, we will have a big party again, just like every year. Believe me, it will be alright. It’ll be fine.’

That is the last thing Peter hears before he hears a strange high-pitched sound and everything around him starts to spin. When he opens his eyes, he is sitting on the bench again with his hamster and Suzie’s doll in his hand. It’s chilly and he misses his parents. Slowly he starts moving and walks to the burned-out house. His parents and Suzie are standing there. Mother turns and sees him and then a big smile appears on her face. She lets her husband know that Peter is behind them. Peter sees two officers approaching him who grab him and throw him into a police car. It’s all going so fast that his parents can’t even hug him. In the police car, it becomes clear to Peter that he is accused of setting the house on fire. He is brutally thrown into a cell and defeated he sits down on the bed and pulls his knees up. He doesn’t understand it and is tired, very tired, but also very angry about what is happening to him.

Peter has no idea how long he has been locked up. Through the small window, he sees that the evening is beginning. Suddenly he hears that the key in the lock is turned and a cop hands him a blanket and a pillow.

“You must be hungry,” the officer asks? “I can arrange something tasty for you. You will be angry and sad. I’m sure it will work out. Don’t let yourself be fooled.”

Before Peter can answer, he has already disappeared.

Not much later, an officer comes in and asks him how he got the blanket.

“You have no right to that, you connive kid.”

Peter looks at him and says: “Yes, Sir, but what you don’t know is that I can do magic. I would be careful if I were you, otherwise I will turn you into an eel and you might know that eels are all-eaters, “jokes Peter.

The man angrily looks at him and replies: “Yes, yes, just joke about it, but you will not escape your punishment, boy!”

“You can’t say I didn’t warn you, Sir. I don’t know about the fire. I was with the…,” Peter decides to shut up. Who would believe him anyway?

The detective tries to get him to confess, but Peter remains silent. Angry, the man leaves his cell and slams the door behind him. Peter hears that the door is locked again. Again, it is quiet, and he dozes away for a moment.

“Yes boy,” he hears and when he lifts his head, a woman stands in front of him.

She smiles at him and he asks what’s so funny. He doesn’t trust her. She has a mean look in her eyes, which she wants to cover up with a smile. If he observes her closely, he comes concludes that she must weigh at least one hundred and forty kilos.

Her legs resemble those of a pig. She stands in front of him broadly and whispers: “You better say you did it. You may then receive a reduced sentence. So many witnesses have seen you. Of course, you took that hamster and your sister’s doll out of the house just before you set fire to the house. If you do not confess, you will go to a disciplinary school for years and you will not see your parents and sister again for the time being. Come on, Peter, say you did it! “

Peter let it pass by. For some reason, it seems like something is keeping him from falling out and giving in to his anger. Frustrated, the woman leaves the cell and Peter is alone again. His body begins to vibrate with all emotions. He thinks about Emma, she too has abandoned him, with all her beautiful words. For a moment he feels sick, especially when the woman’s words run through his mind. “If you don’t confess, you will go to reform school for years and then you won’t see your parents and sister again for the time being,” she had said.

Suzie, how would she be? For a moment he is in a conflict whit himself but confesses for something he has not done. Never! Some day they will have to let him go. Peter stretches out on the bed. With his hands under his head, he stares at the ceiling and thinks. Could all of this have to do with the expropriation of the plot of land and their house? He is slowly getting himself back under control and is certainly not going to give in to blackmail. That is something his parents had always urged him to do.

He must appear in court on New Year’s Eve morning. When he is brought into court, his heart sinks. There’s the same judge who convicted him last time. It gets restless in the room when he is led to his seat by the officers through the aisle. People whisper and for a moment Peter gets the feeling as if he would prefer to disappear in smoke. Smoke, he thinks. That’s where I am for this, and for a moment a smile comes to his mouth. He sees his teacher sitting in the stands and for a moment he gets a glimmer of hope.

The judge summons the attendees to be quiet and to sit down. Then he looks at the prosecutor and asks what the charge is?

Peter listens with bowed head to what the prosecutor has to say. He feels so lonely and abandoned. He had made none of the charges and he had kept his promises. He felt an excruciating emptiness and his stomach ached.

“Is there evidence that the defendant committed these acts,” he hears the judge ask?

“Certainly, Your Honor. I am acting on behalf of the municipality and it is clear that he has set his own house on fire,” the prosecution replied.

“I can hear you, but that is not an answer to my question,” the judge answers. “Is there evidence?”

“Peter, what do you have to say about this. Did you do that? I want you to answer this honestly,” the judge asks?

Peter looks uncomfortably at the judge and it becomes very quiet in the room. They eagerly await what he will answer.

“You see now. He doesn’t even answer your question. He must be making up some other lie,” shouts the prosecution.

“Are you speaking or Peter,” the judge asks? “Come on, Peter, don’t worry about anything and give me your answer.”

“No Sir, I don’t know about this. I dare to put my hand in the fire for that. The fire of our house lit by a few men.”

“Thank you, Peter,” the judge replied.

Suddenly it becomes very noisy in the room and when Peter looks back, he sees Emma standing in the doorway.

“What’s going on there,” the judge asks the clerk?

Determined, Emma walks to the judge and whispers something to him. Peter does not understand and is surprised when Emma sits next to him. She kisses him on the cheek and for a moment he feels happy. It feels so familiar now that she is sitting next to him again.

“I understand you want to take up the defense of the accused,” the judge asks Emma?

“That’s right, Sir. I’m going to defend him. I have something else here you should be sure to know.”

Emma hands something to the messenger who in his turn hands it to the judge.

Peter has no idea what they are talking about. For a moment he looks back and sees his parents and Suzie a little further on. That gives him hope and Suzie blows a kiss his way through her hand. He makes a catch moving and smiles at her lovingly.

“If I understand correctly, there should be a note from the mayor assuring her that if a new home is built before Christmas Eve, the family would be allowed to stay there?”

“That’s right Sir,” Emma replies. “I was there when that note was drawn up and signed,” Emma whispers to Peter to show the note. He feels in his pockets but already knows he no longer has it. Once again, he feels in his pockets and whispers, “You know I lost the note.”

The prosecution hopes that the note isn’t there. That would mean that there is no proof whatsoever and that they have won. After all, there is no new home.

“Is that just one of those lies,” says the prosecution.

“Please keep your mouth shut. I am the judge here and I know my work. I cannot say that about you. Soon, it will certainly be your turn to have your say,” the judge admonishes.

“Peter shrugs and says,” I’m sorry Sir, but I’ve lost it. But it is true what Emma says.”

Again, it gets turbulent in the room and they see Suzie walking down the aisle to the right. There she stops and looks up at the high table. She calls out softly, “Sir … Sir.”

The judge bends over and kindly asks what she wants. “Just say it, little girl.”

One of her hands disappears into her apron and she takes out a crumpled note and hands it to the judge. “I can’t read yet Sir, but this may be the note my brother lost.”

‘Thank you, dear. I’ll read it right away. Just sit next to your big brother. You must have missed each other,” and Suzie nods.

She sits down between Emma and her big brother and takes Peter’s hand.

In the meantime, the judge carefully reads the note that Suzie gave him. He pauses for a moment and then clears his throat. “This is indeed the document we just talked about.”

Again, the prosecution rebels and says that the note is only valid if a new house would have been built on Christmas Eve. It is not there, so it is invalid, he declares.

“That’s right, I can’t change that. There is indeed no new house, “the judge replies.

In the hall are many interested parties who have already invested in the new building plans of the municipality. Small shouts of joy are therefore clearly audible.

“Peter do you have anything to add to this,” the judge asks?

Peter shakes his head disappointingly but repeats that he has nothing to do with the fire.

“Okay, then I will adjourn the hearing for an hour and then I will deliver my sentence,” said the judge.

In the hall, people shake hands. “Nothing can go wrong,” says a man in a three-piece suit, and the group is visibly delighted.

An hour later, the judge returns and hands a USB stick to the messenger. Not much later a large screen is rolled down and an image appears on it.

The audience is anxious to watch the images and see that three men set fire to the house of Peter’s parents. Moments later, Peter, who enters the burning house, appears in the picture. Moments later he comes out again with his hamster and Suzie’s doll.

It is very quiet in the hall and some look at Peter with tears in their eyes. The screen goes up again and the judge gives his verdict.

Peter is cleared of all blame and the men who lit the house in a fire are given a hefty punishment. The municipality may build the harbor and the villas may also be built, but there are conditions that the municipality must comply with.

They have to build a spacious new home on the old ground for Peter’s parents. It must meet all the requirements of modern times. There must be sufficient space around the house. The same space that the family currently has. This may mean that the municipality can place a few fewer houses. There is no discussion about this, and the family must be accommodated in a hotel during the construction period, at the expense of the municipality.

The next point is: The father is appointed as harbormaster for life and may continue to catch eels. These rights are automatically passed on from father to son, etc., provided those involved renounces with these rights themselves.

“This is my verdict, and the court is closed,” said the judge, striking his counter with a hammer and nodding.

Peter and his parents cannot be happier. Suzie and Emma are twinkles from happiness.

On New Year’s Day, Peter walks to Emma’s house and together they walk back to the place where Peter’s house once stood. Emma lays her head on his shoulder and together they peer silently over the lake. He would like to tell Emma what he had been through on Christmas Eve but just can’t find the words for it.

Suddenly the water starts to bubble up and they see the ship “De Rog” surfacing. Emma wants to run away anxiously, but Peter says it’s okay. “Stay here.”

The hatch opens and Dommis jumps onto the deck. He carefully steps ashore and says: “Everything turned out okay, didn’t it? I knew it, but I was not allowed to say anything about it. For a moment I lost the film. It took a while for I can find it.”

“What do you mean, which movie,” asks Peter? Suddenly he realizes. “Oh, that movie. You’re such a scatterbrain too. How is Santa Claus?”

“He is much better now. That burn-out is almost over, thanks to you. You must have the sweet greetings from Mrs Santa and everyone else. Also, from Blitzen and Comet. They thank you again for their rescue. So now I have to go back to the ship because we are going to our new accommodation. There is still a lot of work to be done there. You know what I’m talking about. Have a good year, “he says, hugging both of them.” Thank you too, Emma, “he whispers to her and then gets back on the ship. Not much later the ship becomes invisible again. Only the sound of the engines is still audible for a moment.

In the meanwhile, the sun has set, and it is getting cold and then they see that the lake is freezing over at a rapid pace. Suzie comes to the lake together with father and mother and not much later the whole village is present. The people from Emma’s village have also come to the lake. They all brought their skates. They placed a stall where you can buy soap and hot chocolate and, on the waterside, the placed lights where possible.

Suzie comes to her brother and shouts: “Thank you, dear brother, my wish has come true.”

Peter looks around but cannot find his father anywhere. Then he looks into the teacher’s eyes and she waves to him and then disappears into nothingness. Eventually, he discovers his father in the crowd, who is coming their way with a basket full of eel. He gives his wife and children a hug.

On the other side of the lake, there is a hissing sound, followed by a bang, and in the sky, there are beautiful fireworks. They all look enchantingly in the sky and then suddenly a text becomes visible between all the colors.

My dear darlings.

For a while, I was allowed to be the teacher for all of you. Peter thanks again for saving Christmas Eve. Emma, thank you for showing Peter the right path.

With love your teacher.

“That is definitely a joke from the teacher,” whispers Peter.

“Of course,” chuckles Emma.

Mother puts an arm around his shoulder and says, “I’m afraid I’ll wake up and none of this happened.”

“Then we all dream the same dream,” replied father.