Anna Piliou was born in Germany, in December 1971. She has studied European Civilisation and is about to complete her postgraduate degree in Education Studies. She lives and works in Kanali, Preveza. Since 2007 she has been a member of the Panhellenic Literary Union. From an early age she loves travelling in any kind of way: either towards a new place, or throughout a book… She was awarded the First Prize of the Panhellenic Literary Union’s 27th Literary Competition, with her story «Μάϊρα, η νεράιδα του φεγγαριού» (Maira, the moon fairy).
URGENT LETTER TO SANTA Translation from Greek: Maria Glykeria Dritsakou Illustrations by Sylvia Palli
Anna Piliou, Urgent Letter to Santa ISBN: 978-618-5147-07-5 December 2014 Original Title: Γράμμα ΕΠΕΙΓΟΝ για τον Άγιο Βασίλη Illustrations by Sylvia Palli, email@example.com
Translation from Greek Maria Glykeria Dritsakou, firstname.lastname@example.org
Editing Tina Moschovi, email@example.com
Page layout: Iraklis Lampadariou, www.lampadariou.eu
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It was cold. New Year’s Eve. Tiny snowflakes were falling down slowly. The people were pacing up and down the stores in a hurry. Most of them were talking loudly and some were pointing towards the window displays. They were decorated with all those little, shiny Christmas ornaments, lights, and red and gold ribbons. Santa Claus was sitting in the middle of the square, yelling: -Which good child is going to sit next to me? Ho ho ho! Hey, little one, what is your name? What? I can’t hear very well because I’m old. Nicolas! Aha! What a nice name! I’m going to bring you the best present on New Year’s Eve! – Are you a real Santa? – Yes… Yes… Come and have a picture with me. Sit next to the pony. Only ten euros, ma’am! – You’re phony! Your beard is fake! I don’t want to take a picture with you! Let me go! I said ‘let me go’! Little Nicolas protested intensely. – Come here, my little boy. It’s not polite to speak like this to the man, said a lady – who was obviously little Nicolas’ mother – pulling softly the child by the hand. – He’s lying, mum! – That’s his job. He takes pictures with children to make his living. – So the real Santa Claus doesn’t get mad? – Of course not. Why should he? The real Santa Claus not only loves everyone but also wants to help all people. He doesn’t get mad. He looked at her with wonder in his eyes. – Come on; let’s get you a pair of gloves and a cap, this way.
-But I’m not cold! A child was playing the violin outside the department store. Little Nicolas stopped short. It was so beautiful to listen to. It seemed easy. The child had placed his chin on the violin and moved his right hand up and down. He could play like this too! In front of the child there was a hat full of coins. – Mum, I’m going to write to Santa to bring me a violin! Do you think my letter can make it? – It will, if it is URGENT… But you have already sent a letter to Santa asking him for a red bike! Did you change your mind? – Yes!!! Now I want a violin! – We’ll try… How am I supposed to know? We’ll write a letter when we get home. Nicolas was excited. He constantly asked questions. – In which colours do violins come? Are they small and big violins? His mum tried to answer every question, although they didn’t seem to end. – Mum, I want to buy a hat. – What do you need the hat for, Nicolas? – Well, where are people going to leave their money? – What money? – Well, the child outside had a hat with a lot of money in it. His mother stared at him and nodded her head.
- Come, we’re going to drink hot chocolate that you like and I’ll explain to you why that child had that hat for. They left the department store. Little Nicolas headed once again towards the child playing the violin. His mum put a coin into his hands and whispered in his ear: - Throw the coin into the hat. Little Nicolas responded joyfully. The child kept playing with his eyes shut. Little Nicolas shut his eyes too, and the whole world disappeared, leaving only the music to be heard. ‘Nice trick’, he thought. Then, he screamed loudly with joy: - Open up your eyes and look! You have plenty of money in the hat! The child kept playing without opening his eyes and little Nicolas’ mother apologised and pulled little Nicolas by the hand. – Why couldn’t I stay a little longer? Why did you apologise? What did I say? Did I spill a surprise? Did the hat need to fill up with money? Mum, why aren’t you talking to me? – I will explain everything to you in a little while, Nicolas. Be patient, we’re almost there. They crossed the stores and shortly after they arrived to a place little Nicolas knew, as he used to go to with grandpa. The waiter took their order: a chocolate and… a toast. – Nicolas, you have just had breakfast. Are you hungry already? – No, I’m not hungry but I want a toast. It smells nice and grandpa always gets me a toast when we come here!
-Ok, we’ll see if you’re going to eat that… Well, now listen to me carefully. The little child playing the violin outside the store can’t see, he’s blind. That’s why he kept his eyes shut. Little Nicolas closed his eyes. Darkness. As if he had turned off the light in his room for the night. -He can’t see anything? Nothing? He thought of the things he would miss if he couldn’t see… -Mum, he didn’t watch the cartoons not even once? -No, Nicolas, unfortunately. He plays the violin to earn a little money. -Why can’t he see? Why doesn’t he have any money? Doesn’t his father work? -Unfortunately, I don’t have answers to all your questions as I don’t know everything. But I know that unfortunately there are a lot of children who lack several things. Now, eat your toast so we can go. -I don’t want it now… It’s cold! -I remind you that I told you to order it only if you were going to eat it. I remind you as well that there are a lot of children who don’t have anything to eat today. -Ok, I’ll eat it, but tell me, how do you know that children are hungry? Why is the music so loud in here? Why am I not supposed to talk to strangers? And why shouldn’t I get up from my seat? -Nicolas, my boy, don’t speak with your mouth full! -Why shouldn’t I speak with a full mouth? -Nicolas, we must go. We’re late. -Is it true that children are hungry?
His mum nodded for ‘yes’. Little Nicolas was very sad. He had never thought that there were children lacking all the things he had. He believed that every child has everything. A warm home, a family, a lot of time to play, friends, and of course plenty of toys. Yes! At least a closet full of them! So many were his toys that it was as hard for him as it was for his friends or schoolmates to ask Santa for something they didn’t have already. That’s why little Nicolas had asked for a bike this year. To enjoy this summer in the village where they kept a big garden; so with the bike he would have long rides on the pavement his grandpa had built. It was dark and he was already at home, in his room. He stood up and glanced outside his window. The stars were shining in the sky and the moon had leaned sideways like a swing. -Who knows how many children are sick or poor out there?, he wondered. What can I do to help them? What can I do? I’m so little! For the first time he strived to make a decision. -Ahhhh! But of course! he exclaimed. I know what to do! I’m going to ask Santa Claus for help. I want neither the bike nor the violin… He began to write:
My dear Santa, I’m Nicolas who has asked you to bring me a red bike. I don’t want the red bike anymore. I’ll explain why. I went with my mum to the stores and there is a child there playing the violin, but he can’t see. I want you to give him a new pair of eyes. Moreover, I saw a lot of children there that are sick or don’t have any money, not even to write you a letter… Did you know there are hungry children? So I beg you so, so much to take care of those children and bring them presents. Don’t forget about them! Mum said you won’t have time now to make any more presents, but don’t worry about it! You can give those children the presents you made for my friends and schoolmates. I’m sure they’ll agree to help. I’m telling you, me Nicolas. Santa, thank you very, very much once again for reading my letter. Nicolas Papadopoulos
He read it again and again. ‘I didn’t forget anything… But I left a lot of blots’, he thought. So he carefully copied it again. Now it was neatly written. ‘Mum would be happy if she saw it’, he thought. He carefully folded the letter. He put it in a little envelope that had been left over from his birthday party. On the front he wrote in capital letters: URGENT LETTER TO SANTA
He reached his bookshelves and took a fat, pink piggy bank. With a small paperclip he pulled a blue banknote from the inside. This should be enough for the stamps he needed. He clearly remembered his mum had given him the same one a few days ago at the post office. He went to bed happy. All the sadness had disappeared.
thought how hard but also how beautiful it is to be Santa Claus. He wished he could help Santa! How much did he want that!
A strong noise woke him up. But, where was he? - Little Nicolas! I’m so glad you came to help us! - Where am I? Are you the real Santa?, he asked him pulling his beard hard with his hand. - Ouch! That hurt! said Santa and stroke little Nicolas’ head. All you children do the same thing when I bring you here, he said with a smile. Come, let’s see what you can do to help us. - But, how did I get here? - You just wished it from the heart, my little one! It’s enough! Your wish came true! A big wooden door opened. - Wow, how many toys! Wow, how many children! What a noise! How nice! He jumped up and down. He didn’t know where to look first. - Remaining time: four hours! Hurry up children, we can make it!, shouted on the loudspeaker a short little creature with a green hat and a tiny nose. The children were wrapping the presents faster and faster. They didn’t seem tired at all. They were excited and happy. They were all working fast singing beautiful songs:
New Year is here And all good kids Will find their gifts Up on a tree or in the chimney! La la la la How nice! What a joy!
In a corner there was an oven baking non-stop traditional holiday cookies. It smelled lovely! Most children had powder sugar smudges all over their face. - Come, little Nicolas, let’s go make your wish come true. Do you remember what you asked for? - Of course I do! - Then run fast and switch the boxes so we can send them to the children you want, and to all the other children we’re going to send nice cards with lots of wishes written by you with the magical quill and sealed with my seal. - Come, you have a lot to do! - Really, you’ll let me seal with your big seal? - Sure! Little Nicolas got down to work. He ran in every corridor switching presents. Every time he switched a present he felt such joy! He thought of the children’s happiness once they opened the gifts!
- Remaining time: three hours! Let’s go children, we’re almost done, shouted the little creature with the green hat. ‘Time passes so fast’, thought little Nicolas. He ran fast to Santa’s office. The door opened with difficulty. There were letters everywhere! Some had been opened, others were still closed! Santa Claus was wearing his big black glasses and was reading out loud every letter while giving instructions. If the child had wished for a toy, Santa asked his helper with the blue bonnet: - Was he a good child? Did he do well at school? His helper with the blue bonnet quickly browsed the books and provided the answers. If everything was ok, then the next helper with the red bonnet took over and ran downstairs to the big room to instruct about the preparation of the present and its shipping. If not, the third helper with the yellow bonnet wrote a letter of advice… Santa Claus looked little Nicolas over his glasses. - Little Nicolas, he said, did you finish with the presents? Little Nicolas nodded affirmatively. - Good! Very good! Well done! Then take some paper from up here and start writing the wish cards with the big quill. - But I don’t know how to write with a quill!
- You don’t need to know. The quill is magical. You simply need to hold it and it will write on its own. Just think about the child you want to send your wishes to and it will start writing by itself. The magical quill knows everything. Begin and you shall see… - The quill is from a rooster or a turkey?, asked little Nicolas. Every helper and Santa too laughed. Outside it was snowing. It was all white. Reindeers prepared for the long journey around the world. The quill was a little heavy in Nicolas’ hand, but as soon as he dipped it into the ink, it suddenly… became light. The quill drew a big circle on the blank paper and then added a smile. Little Nicolas stared at it curious. - You forgot to think to which child you’re sending it, Nicolas. The quill is teasing you… so it drew you a smile! Everyone laughed and went back to their work. Little Nicolas focused, closed his eyes and whispered: - Wishes to my friend, Chris. The quill began to swirl and write very quickly. Little Nicolas couldn’t catch what the quill was writing. It wrote so fast… - Come on, little Nicolas, seal it and I’ll send the first envelope, said happily the little creature with the big glasses. Little Nicolas dipped the seal into the ink and pressed it hard onto the paper.
- Wow! Lovely! Ready! Chris won’t believe it, murmured joyfully little Nicolas. After a while, he was done with all his cards. Santa Claus hugged him and said: - I’m very proud of you and your friends. I wish you a very happy new year! Well done! - Have a nice journey, Santa! The loudspeakers announced: ‘Santa Claus’ departure in nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one minute. Happy New Year! I wish you health and joy! - Good morning, young man!, said daddy and pulled back the curtains. I think you slept enough for today… Happy New Year! - Happy New Year, dad! He looked at his hand. It was covered in ink. He hid it behind his back and smiled. The letter was no longer on the desk. ‘I’m sure mum sent it’, he thought. - Aren’t you coming down to see if Santa Claus has come? - I’m certain he came, dad! He ran downstairs. In front of the tree there was a big envelope with Santa’s seal. He quickly opened it:
My dear Nicolas, Your wish has come true! Happy New Year! And thank you my friend! You know why! Santa Claus
Nicolas’ mum and dad stared in awe. - I’m so happy!, he said. Santa received my letter and replied! I knew he would understand! The following days little Nicolas went shopping again with his mum. The child with the violin was no longer there. A lady said he’s hospitalised abroad and shortly he’ll be able to see again! A little farther a child in an old pair of trousers and shoes with holes was playing with a brand new red bike. Right across two children were playing with a brand new ball. Little Nicolas was so happy… - Tell me, mummy, how long does an urgent letter need to arrive? - Two to three days. Why? Little Nicolas turned and looked at her at once. Then smiled. His mum tried to rectify. - Sometimes it arrives very, very quickly. So, Nicolas, what would you say to buy you a chocolate and a toast? - Just chocolate, mum. I’ve just had breakfast. I meant to ask you, are there any female Santa Clauses? She looked at him and smiled. She opened her bag and pulled from inside a crumpled envelope, labelled: URGENT LETTER TO SANTA - I’m so proud of you, my boy! she said.
Sylvia Palli was born in 1996 in Corfu. Since 2001 she lives in Athens where she’s a senior high school student at the Artistic School of Gerakas, following an artistic orientation. She has participated to the design and making of scenery for theatrical school plays. Furthermore, she has taken part in a project of the Artistic School of Gerakas aiming at raising awareness among citizens about environmental issues, by presenting a figurative construction, selling engraved works, and financially supporting her school with a group exhibition. She has also participated in a group illustration of Maria Tsiouma’s theatrical plays, «Τα παιδιά της ανάγκης» (The children of need) and «Έκδοση Δρόμων» (Street Publication). Moreover, she has participated to the conception and making of a painting, exhibited and presented as a happening centred around the intervention of elements by French cartoons onto classical art paintings, thanks to the cooperation of Hellenic-French schools and the Artistic School of Gerakas, and the support of the French Institute. Her paintings are expected to be exhibited at the Rebetico Festival, within the current year. Her future orientation is the School of Art.
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The holidays are approaching. The city is decorated with its festive embellishments. The Christmas tree at home is decorated with colourful balls, little bells and angels, and lots of sparkly lights. Everyone is happy. Little Nicolas is longing for Santa Clausâ€™ present. But suddenly something happens andâ€Ś he must immediately send an URGENT letter to Santa! Will he make it in time?
Published on Dec 30, 2014
The holidays are approaching. The city is decorated with its festive embellishments. The Christmas tree at home is decorated with colourful...