THE SLEIGH - A Prequel

By Daniel Logan

Unlike the other kids his age, my brother never had the opportunity to have his own bright and shiny new sleigh. Ma and Pa couldn't afford one, and the pittance Nick made from his after-school job went to help feed and clothe our poor family. Nick made deliveries from the gift shop in an old broken-down, one-horse, open sleigh. He never complained and would often take me riding with him.

One snowy day, we were delivering a present to a lovely old lady who lived far outside the village. I'll never forget the tears in her eyes when Nick handed her the box wrapped in colorful paper, a gift from a distant friend. The woman, a widow, hugged Nick and said, "Young man, I have something to show you. Please follow me."

We followed her through the drifts of snow to the barn, filled with livestock---including lots of reindeer. When my eyes adjusted to the dim light cast by the lady's lantern, I saw a red object in the rear of the barn---a sleigh. Not a one-horse sleigh, but a sleigh like I'd never seen before. A sign on the front claimed it had the ability to fly! To fly! No sleigh could do that!

"My husband built it a long time ago," she said.

"It can fly?" Nick asked.

The old lady smiled and then wiped another tear from her eye. "He always said it could," she said, "But it never did. Oh, many bought it and tried it, but they'd bring it back the next day, angry at my husband and demanding their money back."

Nick walked toward the sleigh and rubbed his hand on the shiny red paint. The color became brighter when he touched it, almost a glow.

"It can fly?" Nick asked again.

"My husband built it to fly," the old lady answered, "but he was a dreamer. I've long since lost hope that it ever would. I loved him very much, but I've had to face the fact that he deceived himself. Worse, he destroyed the dreams of all those who bought it."

"It can fly," Nick whispered to me. "I wish I could buy it."

"Oh, I'd never sell it," she said, overhearing. "I don't want to disillusion anyone ever again."

"It can fly," Nick said to her. "I can fly it, and I can make people forget their disappointments, their worries and their troubles. I can do it. Let me try."

The old lady looked for a long time at Nick's face. She and I saw something in his expression that hadn't been there before. She glanced at me, then turned back to Nick and said, "You boys help me pull it out, and we'll hitch up the reindeer. If you can make it fly, it's yours."

In a few minutes, we had the sleigh in the lane and the reindeer harnessed. Nick walked to each one, petted its head and whispered something in its ear. He told me to hop in and took the reins.

"What did you say to them?" I asked.

"I gave each one a name and told them I believed the sleigh could fly. Are you ready?" he asked.

I nodded my head in wonder. Nick winked at the old lady, smiled at me and with a gentle snap of the reins, the reindeer started to pull the sleigh---slowly at first, but faster and faster as Nick shouted encouragement.

Nick called each reindeer by name, "On, Dasher!---On, Dancer!--- "

Before Nick could finish---swo-o-o-sh---the sleigh began to fly! In fact, it soared. Nick circled around the old lady's house and waved to her. He then looked at me, threw his head back and let out a booming "Ho! Ho! Ho!"

Author's Note

The Sleigh is a story told through the eyes of the twelve-year-old brother of Santa Claus about the beginnings of the St. Nicholas legend.

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