Stewart Bint | Guest Writer | 19 December 2020
OVER the past two weeks, we have been sharing weekly instalments of Leicestershire-based author Stewart Bint’s new fictional digital exclusive Christmas story named ‘The Trial of Santa Claus’, which covers a trainee journalist covering the trial of Santa Claus when he appeared in court.
Stewart joined forces with our editorial team this holiday season on the story so that readers of The Hinckley Free Press would be able to have a new festive tale to read amidst the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic this holiday season.
As a thank you and token of our appreciation, our Hinckley reporter, Mason Moore, agreed to write his very own exclusive two-part story for Stewart’s blog, which can be found here, named ‘The Trainspotter’s Grotto’.
This marks the last part of the three-part story. We hope that you enjoy reading and that Stewart has been able to bring you some Christmas cheer this holiday season!
“Madam.” His booming voice echoed around the ancient timbers. “I can’t deny that much of what the prosecution says is true. The spirit of Christmas – its true meaning – has been lost. Some children turn bitter and twisted when they see a better toy than theirs, or one which was more expensive, and it does rob them of their innocence at a painfully early age. Oh yes, I agree that is wrong. But you can’t blame me for it. I’m afraid Humankind’s progress through time has become tarnished. The further the human race goes and the more they get, the more they want.” Santa shook his head sadly.
“I know if I’m found guilty, I shall spend some time in prison, but that’s not the reason for my stout defence and complete denial of the charges laid against me, Madam. I’m opening my heart to you with feelings and thoughts I’ve had for a long time. But it wasn’t until I was arrested that it brought home to me just how bad things are getting and how the world has changed in a few short decades.
“Whatever happened to the idyllic Christmases when families went to church together on Christmas morning, and it was a time for rejoicing because our Saviour had come to Earth on that day two thousand years before?
“He came to save the world, to show its people the way forward. If ever it’s necessary for Him to come again, the time is now, for Humankind has strayed from the path He showed them. The journey has become cluttered with material possessions that people prefer to the simple ways of Our Lord.
“They’ve let grasp and greed cloud their lives and they’ve lost sight of the true road ahead. They over-eat in comfort while others go hungry. They have warm beds while others shiver in the cold. There’s no compassion left in the world. Everyone strives for something better and they always want the greener grass on the other side.
“You can’t hold me responsible for that. If anyone’s being cruel to children, it’s their parents, for giving them too many material possessions and not enough love and spirituality. Children grow up with everything handed to them and with no appreciation of values – either material values, or more importantly, spiritual values.”
At that stage old Chatstock finally managed to chip in. I could see he’d been itching to for a couple of minutes. “But if that’s the case why do you continue to visit these children year after year? Wouldn’t it be better for you to ignore the world for a time?”
Santa shook his wise old head, a sad smile pulling at his lips. “No, I couldn’t do that. I’ve always visited children over Christmas Eve night and Christmas morning, and see no reason to change now.
“If Humankind wants to tread this particular path, who am I to say no?
“But remember this – the spirit of Christmas is still there for those who choose to seek it. For that reason, if you find me not guilty, Christmas will continue to come to the world every year, despite the self-destructive path a minority are taking. But think of this – can the world survive if we no longer celebrate the birth of its saviour? I put it to you, that it cannot.
“The world is what people have made it. And people are what the world has made them.”
He stopped speaking and gently lowered himself into his seat.
Mrs McHarris stood up. “If that’s all you wish to say, Santa Claus, then we’ll retire to consider our verdict.”
Now, it wasn’t the first time I’d dozed off for a few moments while waiting for the magistrates to come back with their decision. I awoke with a start when Mrs McHarris tapped her gavel sharply on its block. For a couple of seconds I looked at her in astonishment. Her pointed cap was gone, so was the fringed shawl. Also back was the grim tweed jacket.
And Santa was gone. His place taken again by the wimpish wally.
It took a few more seconds for everything to sink in. Then I laughed under my breath. It looked as if I wouldn’t get to hear the verdict on Santa Claus after all.
Through the ensuing days I tried to work out just what had happened in that courtroom and what the verdict could possibly be. I’m quite good at predicting which way the magistrates will decide, but in this case I didn’t have a clue.
Santa had said he’d go to prison if he were found guilty. And that didn’t bear thinking about. Just imagine all those disappointed faces if he didn’t pay them a visit.
But when Christmas morning dawned all my worries were over. Santa came as usual, and as far as I know he called on everyone. I reckon he must have been found not guilty. What was it he said? Oh yes: “But remember this – the spirit of Christmas is still there for those who choose to seek it. For that reason, if you find me not guilty, Christmas will continue to come to the world every year, despite the self-destructive path a minority are taking. But think of this – can the world survive if we no longer celebrate the birth of its saviour? I put it to you, that it cannot.”
I think that says it all, don’t you?
Oh…and just in case you think I dreamed the whole thing; no, no, no. I’ve still got the shorthand notes I made during that day I covered the trial of Santa Claus.