Once upon a time last year Santa and Mrs. Claus decided to trot on down to Puerta Vallarta for some fun in the sun before the Big Night. They packed their swimsuits, sunglasses, snorkels, sunscreen, MP3 players full of carols, striped umbrellas, a couple of pounds of fudge, some thermoses of hot chocolate, and a road map or two into Santa's bag and hopped into the sleigh. Santa grinned at Mrs. Claus and rubbed his hands together, expecting a lovely trip.
The reindeer weren't all that pleased about having to haul Santa's chubby carcass clear down to Mexico twice in one year. Cupid did a fair amount of mumbling about how Blitzen kept falling asleep in the traces and had to be nudged.
"Easy there, you two," Dancer complained. "You're chipping my hoof polish with all that jigging back and forth."
Santa gave a snap to the reigns and yelled, "On Dasher and Dancer, on Prancer and Vixen, on Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen! To the top of the porch to the top of the wall now dash away, dash away, dash away all!"
"That only works on Christmas," Prancer said, staring out into empty space, chewing his cud.
"There is no porch," Vixen said with a smirk.
Donner said loudly, "You expect us to all balance on this one wall? You're off your rocker! We'll fall to our fiery deaths."
Comet said, "I'm leaving the dashing to Dasher."
"Oh for crying out loud! Haul your keesters into the air," yelled Santa, snapping the reigns and fingering the whip he normally never had to use.
That was enough for them. The grumbling reindeer chugged down the snowy run way and stumbled into the sky still filling the air with complaints.
"I will turn this sleigh around if you don't stop whining," Santa said loudly.
"Please do. Then I can go back to my nap," Blitzen said.
"See, I told you," Comet hissed. "He needs to go to bed before two am instead of staying up to play Christmas Warrior all the time."
"Shut up and pull your weight, you old cow," someone in the back grumbled.
At last the sleigh hit Mexican airspace and settled into a holding pattern over Puerta until a plane could clear. Santa had had it with the complaints. He seriously considered flying back in a plane, except that he'd left his wallet in his fuzzy red pants.
They landed on the beach and Santa and Mrs. Claus gratefully hopped out of the sleigh.
"If you lot can stay relatively close, I'll let you loose to play in the waves," Santa said, despite feeling like booting each deer in the rear. They'd be unbearable if he didn't let them have some fun. The Clauses unpacked and spread out a blanket in the sun. After slathering each other with lotion, they settled down for a long winter's bake.
So off they went. Dancer had a great time body surfing. Donner found a starfish and a couple of sand dollars. Blitzen took a nice nap in the sand and Cupid buried him up to his nose while he slept. Dasher chased Comet with a hermit crab and tripped over a piece of kelp, digging his antlers into the sand with an "Oof!" Prancer nearly split his sides laughing until Dasher came at him with the poor crab.
Vixen wandered off in search of souvenirs.
After a couple of hours, Santa popped an eye open and mumbled about needing to turn over because that side was done. The two of them flipped over and settled in for the other half of their snooze.
By that time Dancer was pruney and huddling under a towel to watch Blitzen try to dig out of his hole. Donner and Prancer built a sand North Pole compound complete with stick elves. Cupid had found a surf board and was shooting the tube. They could hear his "Dude!" exclamations clear down the beach. Comet had spilled the reindeer snacks and seagulls dive-bombed him to get at them. Dasher limped around showing everyone his boo-boo.
And Vixen was nowhere to be found.
The sun was starting to paint the waves when Santa sat up and exclaimed, "Holy Christmas Carp, Mama! Look at your back!"
"Oh dear," Mrs. Claus said. "I thought this SPF 300 would be enough. The ride home is going to bite." She gingerly touched her purple shoulder and knew they were going to have to stop off for some aloe vera.
"You got that right. Come on, reindeer. Let's get back."
As you might surmise, none of the reindeer were interested in lining up to haul everything back to the frozen North. For one thing, they would be a few hundred pounds heavier, what with all the sand, shells, cool-looking pieces of driftwood, and jars of hermit crabs. But finally, with lots of veiled (and not so veiled) threats, the reindeer shivied into place--all except Vixen, who was still AWOL.
Santa, by this time, had reached thunderous bellow level. Feeling like an over-done lobster had done bad things to his patience. But nobody had seen Vixen in hours. The wind had even obscured her hoof prints.
"That does it," Santa growled. "If she's not here in fifteen minutes, we're leaving her here."
The other reindeer groaned.
"Never again," Blitzen said. "I can nap anywhere."
"Clearly," Cupid grumbled.
"Why didn't anybody pay attention to her?" Dasher asked.
"You know Vixy," Comet said. "She has a mind of her own."
"You mean 'no' mind of her own," Dancer mumbled.
"I'm hungry," Prancer whined.
Donner said, "You could have had a snack if Comet hadn't fed them all to the seagulls."
"Hey! It was an accident!" Comet yelled.
Another fight ensued until Santa cracked his whip. "We're leaving," he thundered.
The sleigh just about didn't make it into the air. It tipped crazily and a couple of buckets of sand fell out. Mrs. Claus shrieked and clutched at Santa until the sleigh righted itself.
"This isn't going to work. We need to find something else to help fly us back," Santa said, thinking hard. "We'll stop along the way and ask."
They leveled off in a field of corn and asked the farmer standing there if they could borrow his caballo.
"Lo siento, but no. I need him to carry maise to el mercado."
Next they stopped at a chili field. The granjero hoeing his chili hills told them, "Lo siento. My burro must carry mis niños to escuela. They must learn to count the chili peppers."
The sleigh even stopped in a cow pasture. The dairyman shook his head. "I am milking mis bacas. Mira, they no fly well anyway."
Santa started to lose hope of ever getting home before Christmas. Just as he and Mrs. Claus despaired, a goat farmer came running down the road yelling, "Chupacabra! Chupacabra! He's eating mis cabras."
Santa hot-footed it back to the man's goat farm, losing a flip-flop on the way. Sure enough, there was a Chupacabra sucking the life out of one of the man's goats. The farmer took up a machete and backed the poor Chupacabra into a corner and was about to hack its head off.
"Wait!" Santa thundered. He turned to the hideous black beast with the spines and the fangs. "Can I interest you in a little venture?"
The Chupacabra didn't have much of a choice. "Si, El Gordo. What can I do for you?"
Santa grinned as he hooked the grinning Chupacabra in back of the line of reindeer, next to Blitzen. The deer's eyes were the size of tortillas. Not one of them opened a mouth to complain.
And that's how Santa got back to the North Pole in record time.
Copyright by Heidi L. Murphy