The Boy Who Saved Santa

A case of mistaken identity

Tommy, known by his family as Bear, hugged his stuffed football, looked around his living room, and smiled. He'd been in that hospital forever, getting the tumor in his brain fixed. Now he was home just in time for Christmas. His mommy was in the kitchen, making his Christmas Eve favorite: hot chocolate with a million marshmallows. His big brothers and sisters were in another room, playing a board game. His dad sat beside him; they were going to watch Cops, Bear's new favorite TV show. His dad was a police officer and Bear was going to be one when he grew up. And a football player, like his namesake Bear Bryant. And a chef.

He looked at the tree, with its twinkling lights and shiny ornaments. Only a few presents were scattered underneath and Bear wondered if he'd get the play kitchen set he wanted and the fancy police belt, with the flashlight, handcuffs, and walkie talkie, almost like his dad's.

Suddenly, Bear heard a thumping noise from the back yard. It sounded like someone was rattling a window. Then the backdoor was being shaken. Was someone trying to break into their house?

"What was that?" his dad said. His dad knew all about strange sounds.

"Maybe a bad guy is trying to get in," Bear said, scooting closer to his father.

"Let's listen," his dad said.

Bear held his breath. At first, he just heard his mommy humming Jingle Bells while she stirred the cocoa. Then he heard another scary noise. Like a burglar trying to squeeze through their bushes and into the house. He gripped his dad's hand.

"I'm calling the police," his dad said. "We may need back-up."

Bear and his dad kept watch out the living room window. Within minutes, two squad cars, blue and red lights flashing, sirens singing, raced to their house.

His dad met the officers at the door and reported the situation. The officers said, "We'll search the property."

Bear could hardly wait to see what they found. A real police search, going on right in his own yard. It was just like Cops.

Suddenly, a man yelled, "Freeze!" Then Bear heard loud voices. Was there a fight?

A few minutes later, the officers knocked at the front door. They were holding the arms of a big man with a white beard.

"This guy claims he wasn't trying to break in," one of them said, frowning at the old man.

"A likely story," said the other officer.

The old man said, "I was just dropping off a few things. There's no chimney, so I was looking for another way to get in." His red suit was smudged with dirt and leaves. He looked at Bear and said, "Hello there, Bear. You know who I am, don't you? What would you like for Christmas?"

Bear could not believe his eyes. "It's Santa!" he shouted. "It's Santa! You can't arrest Santa."

The officers stared at Santa. His dad stared at Santa. His brothers and sisters ran into the room and started jumping up and down, chanting. "It's Santa. It's Santa."

The policemen let go of Santa's arms and looked sheepish.

"The presents are in my sleigh," Santa said, grinning at Bear. He turned to the officers. "Want to carry them in?"

The whole family clustered around Santa as the cops lugged in load after load of presents. Bear had never seen so many brightly wrapped boxes and he couldn't wait to see what was in them.

Santa said to Bear, "Thank you for saving me. And thank you for saving Christmas. You're a brave boy."

"When I grow up, I'm going to be a cop. And a football player. And a chef," Bear told him.

"Well, it's getting late. I'd better be going; I have a lot of stops to make tonight," Santa said. He hugged Bear and waved good-bye.

Bear looked at the piles of presents under the tree and thought about the fun of opening them tomorrow morning. But meanwhile, his mom brought in his cocoa with a million marshmallows. Plus some holiday cookies. Bear and his family settled in front of the TV to watch his new favorite show, Cops.