Leelo Tungal. “The Santa Claus Who Was Afraid of Kids”

Reading sample

Santa Claus brought Peter an elf last winter, though it was only a toy. The elf’s hat was sewn onto its head and stitches could even be seen coming from its beard. Pictures of elves could be found on postcards and from books; they were even shown on television, and sometimes Peter dreamed of an elf that said his name was Sulbert. Life had taught Peter that if Sulbert the Elf appeared in his dream, then he had to head quickly to the bathroom or else things would turn out quite badly.

However, Peter wanted to speak one-on-one with a real elf. An elf is certainly an honest, frank individual. One would certainly say without holding back, where he gets those candies, apples and tangerines that await Peter in his stocking every morning before Christmas.

No one – not even Peter’s father – could tell the boy whether elves have families, and if they do, then whether even tinier elves bring candy to put in their children’s stockings.

Peter had an even greater number of questions about Santa Claus that he wanted to ask an elf. Do Santa’s reindeer have names, and does Santa say “nuu” and “pruu” to them like Peter’s grandfather says to his horse Yass? Does Santa Claus sleep in his coat, or does he wear pajamas at night? Does Santa carry a staff, and what kind of tree is it made of? What do Santas eat, and how quickly do they grow?

Oh, Peter had many questions crowding his head, and an elf would have been able to answer them without a doubt. Yet it was very hard to find an elf…

Translated by Adam Cullen