Santa Claus ,Christmas tree,Merry Christmas-blog post of Akshata Shanbhag


sans “Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas….”

Children had gathered around Keith and were taking pictures. 

“Merry Christmas Santa. We love you.” 

” Merry Christmas. I love you too.” 

” Santa, one picture with me please. ” 

” Yeah sure. C’mon. ” 

” Thank you, Santa.” 

” Next is my turn, my turn ” children were arguing amongst themselves. 

” Everyone gets a chance. No fighting.

Merry Christmas everyone.” 


Keith loved children. He believed in the joy of giving. Hence every year during Christmas, he would dress himself as Santa and make children happy. He would stand in front of malls, stores, visit orphanages and whatever little he could contribute he would do it wholeheartedly. Children loved him too. They would wait every year for Keith and receive chocolates, gifts, take pictures and have lots of fun.


Emily and Keith were childhood friends. Emily had taken up a job in the neighbouring city but she would make it a point to visit her family every year for Christmas. After meeting her family, Emily would go to Keith’s house. He lived next door. After spending some time with his family, Keith and Emily would take a stroll, gossip and then get back home after having dinner at their favourite food truck. Emily wanted to surprise Keith this year and hence she had not told him about his visit. She went to the mall to meet him.


Emily saw a crowd gathered at the entrance of the mall. She guessed it had to be Keith the Santa. She stood in the queue waiting for her turn to meet Santa. When Keith noticed Emily, he was surprised. He waved at her. Emily smiled and winked. 

“Merry Christmas Santa.

I too want a picture with you.

May I ?”

Emily took her phone from her pocket and clicked a selfie.

“Emily, you did not tell me that you are coming today.

I spoke to you yesterday .”

“Yes. Surprise. I am here.”

Keith smiled and hugged Emily.

Could you make it quick, please? We are waiting” -People standing in the queue requested Emily.

“Yes, yes. I am sorry.

Make it quick Keith. I am starving. I will be hanging around here. Let’s go eat at the new food truck that has opened down the road.”

“Are you sure Emily?”

“Yes. Let’s try something new this time.”

“Okay. I will make it soon.”

“Yep, you better make it soon Santa.”

Emily looked at the crowd and said – “Who wants to go next and take a picture with Santa? Go ahead.”


After Keith was done, he called Emily and asked her to meet at the entrance of the mall.

“So Emily, what is it with you this time?

You come early and surprise me. You want to eat at the new truck joint that has opened down the road. Am I missing out on something ?”

Emily started laughing loudly.

“No. No. It’s nothing.

I was like let’s try something new and different this time. Unlike the last few years. 

If you want we can still go to the old place to eat. ” 

” No. I am fine Emily. Since I stay here, I can eat anywhere I want. You need to try out something new.

I haven’t eaten there though. But I have heard it’s good.” 

Emily slows her pace. 

” Emily, what happened? ” 

” Ssh…?”

” What is the matter Em?” 

Emily turned around and gazed. 

” Will you tell me what is going on?” 

” Keith, I felt someone was following us. I mean me.  I felt the same in the mall.” 

” There is no one Em. C’mon make it fast. Now I am hungry too. ” 

Emily wasn’t convinced. But since she could not see anyone she felt that maybe she was hallucinating. 


The next morning, after Emily woke up she stood at her bedroom window. Everything around seemed so nice. Everyone had decorated their houses. She thought that it looked so different at night. Emily was happy that she was spending time with her family. She saw Keith’s parents going out. Emily assumed that Keith must be at home as she wanted to go out shopping with him. Suddenly, across the street, Emily noticed that someone was watching her. She could not make out who it was as the person had covered his face with his cap. 

” Hey, hey…you.What are you doing?” 

Emily rushed to catch that person. When she stepped outside she did not see anyone. 

” Good morning Em…are you okay?” 

Keith addressed Emily from behind. Since Emily was not expecting Keith, she got scared. 

” Oh, Keith…what is wrong with you?” 

” I must be asking you this. What is wrong with you?

Why are you sweating? I can hear your heart beating rapidly….are you alright?” 

” I was in my room looking outside the window. I noticed someone watching me.

He was right here. ” 

” Where here? You told me last night someone was following you? 

There was no one here Em. My parents just left. I was on my patio over the phone. I did not see anyone there. ” 

” I saw your parents leave. But I did not see you. ” 

” Yes, I came out after they left. When I saw you running across the street I disconnected the call. “

” Whom were you talking to Keith? ” 

” How does that matter, Emily? Well, I was talking to one of my colleagues. Do you want to talk to him and convey your season’s greetings?” 

Keith and Emily burst out laughing. 

” Well, Keith, get ready and be at my place in an hour. We are going out shopping. ” 

Keith nodded his head. Emily winked at him and got back home. Just when she was about to close the door behind her, she looked around to see if anyone was watching her. She did not notice anyone. Emily shut the door and went to her room to get dressed. 


While they were driving – 

” So Em, what do you want to buy?” 

Emily looked at Keith and smiled. 

” Sometimes after work, I walk home. On my way, I see these children who live on the streets barely wearing clothes, no food to eat, no toys to play with.

 So I decided that I will buy something for them. Since I don’t get enough time there, I thought why not buy it when I come home and you would be the right choice to help me out.”

“I am glad you think that way Em. 

Trust me when you see the happiness on their face after receiving the gifts, that joy I tell you…I can’t explain it to you Em. Experience  it yourself.”

“I get it, Keith. So here we are. I hope we get parking space.”


After parking the car, Emily and Keith were shopping for clothes. 

“Em you pick up some clothes, we will finalise later. I will look out for some toys.

That way we will finish it early. I have some work at home then later I have to play Santa.”

“Oh yeah. Sure, Keith. Go ahead.”


Emily noticed that Keith was taking a keen interest in selecting the toys. She continued selecting the clothes. After she was done, she looked around for Keith. She did not find him.

“Hi, did you see my friend? He was here in the toy section .” Emily asked one of the storekeepers and she also described his attire.

“No ma’am I am sorry. We did not see your friend.”

Emily was surprised. She came out of the store and started looking out for him. She noticed the same man she saw the other day outside her house. Emily wanted to reach out to him but the mall was crowded and hence she lost him.

Suddenly Keith tapped her shoulder from behind –

“Emily, what are you doing here? I have been searching for you inside.”

‘Keith, I am out here looking for you. Where were you?”

“Oops, sorry. My fault. I went to the washroom. I should have told you that.

Did you select the dresses? I have picked up some toys. Come let’s have a look.”


After they were done shopping, they headed towards the parking lot. Emily was silently driving the car. She did not know what was happening to her.  

” Keith, why do I see that man around only when you are with me? ” 

” What are you talking about Em? I am not understanding?” 

” Are you playing a prank on me?” 

” Why would I do that Emily? You are making no sense at all. Just drive, please. 

We are already late. I have some preparations to make before the guests come home and then I have to go and meet the kids.

I had promised the kids that I would be there today. I need to hurry so that I can come home for dinner on time. ” 

” Fine. Fine. Keith…I am driving. ” 

” Don’t look at me. Drive slowly, Emily. Look in the front..there is a out Emily.” 

Suddenly there were loud noises. Police sirens, ambulances, people shouting. 


The next morning, Emily had gained consciousness. When she opened her eyes, she found herself in her bedroom. She noticed her mother was around. 

” Mom, Mom..” Emily stumbled.

Emily’s mother looked at her and moved closer to her. 

” Emily, you are awake? How are you feeling honey? ” 

” I am okay. Hurts a little. 

Mom, I thought I would wake up in the hospital like the last time.”

” Good that nothing happened like the last time. You just passed out this time while driving.

Why aren’t you taking your pills? 

I just checked your pill case. From the time you have arrived, you haven’t taken a single. Assuming that you had stopped them a few days before you got here. 

Why sweetheart? Why? Nothing is going to change. It’s not your fault. 

Stop blaming yourself. It was an accident. ” 

” Mom, it’s my fault. I was driving recklessly. I wasn’t looking at the road. Keith kept telling me to look in the front. ” 

” Okay, you relax now. We will talk later. Come join us for breakfast. 

Merry Christmas.” 

” Merry Christmas Mom. Merry Christmas.” 


Emily slowly got up and looked outside the window. It was snowing. She looked at Keith’s house. There were a lot of people gathered at his place. She knew that she had to be there. Emily quickly got ready, had her breakfast and went to Keith’s house. 

” Merry Christmas Mr and Mrs Smith” Emily greeted Keith’s parents. 

” Where is Keith?

I know he is here. He is the one who has been following me. Where is he? ” 

Emily started crying. Emily’s mother walked in and she held Emily. 

” Emily, it’s okay. Please come. 

Let’s go home. Sweetheart, it’s okay. Calm down. ” 

Keith’s parents were looking at each other. They did not know what to do. 


Keith’s father addressed the people in his house –

“I am sorry for this. It’s been the case for the last two years. 

Emily is in the process of recovering. 

As some of you gathered here know that Emily was a close friend of Keith’s. 

She feels responsible for Keith’s death. It was just an accident but she has not overcome this trauma. 

Every time around this year she visualises her past experiences with Keith including the day of the accident. 

She feels that Keith is around watching her and holding her responsible for his death. ” 


Emily’s mother was trying her best to calm Emily.

“Emily dear, it’s been two years since this incident. 

It was an accident. Keith is not watching you.

 He knows that you would not hurt him. Never.

He is in a happy place now. Take your medicines and get some rest. It’s all going to be okay.”

Emily took her medicines and her mother tucked her to bed. She closed the door behind her and went downstairs.


Emily visited the church in the evening and offered her prayers. There was a man dressed as Santa which again reminded her of Keith. She just walked past Santa like she did not notice him at all. Emily heard someone calling out her name from behind and she looked around to see who it was. Santa came running towards her.

“Hey Santa, what is it ?”

“You walked past me like you did not notice. What is the matter, Emily?”

“You know my name ?”

“Of Course, I do know your name Em? I am Santa. I know everything. I also know how naughty and nice you have been.”

Emily was shocked as only Keith addressed her as Em. She moved closer and took off his mask.

“Keith. it’s you ?” Emily’s hands were trembling.

“Merry Christmas Em.Merry Christmas .”




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