Part One: Simon Claus
Nickolaas looked out the window of his large Rotterdam home, watching as the first snow fell. He no longer knew his age, but he was old, and today he felt it.
His mother was an elf; from her he inherited long life and strength, and a modicum of magic. From his father, Nicholas, he inherited the desire to help the needy. He didn't remember how far back this desire stemmed, but he was told it started centuries ago with his ancestor, Saint Nicholas, whose kindness and generosity people still celebrated in December. Good (and not so good) children still put out shoes, hoping to get a coin from Sinterklaas, a nickname he'd picked up over the years. He preferred it to "St. Nick", since he didn't like diminutives.
He'd continued his ancestors' giving ways using two bits of magic. He kept a cache of small gold coins, which he would duplicate over and over, making enough for the ever-increasing number of children's shoes. On St. Nicholas Eve, he would slow down time, allowing him to deliver them all. But even his magic wasn't enough as the population increased. That was when he discovered the elves.
He knew, of course, that there were elves-- he was half-elfin, after all. But his mother left her tribe to live with humans and rarely talked about her heritage. So, he was surprised to be visited by his mother's brother, who whisked him away to meet relatives and the elfin community. They loved that Nick was kind and generous, and they agreed to help him every December by delivering gold coins to all the children they could reach. With their help Nick covered all of Europe.
As those children grew, some migrated far away. Even Nickolaas couldn't slow down time enough to cross the Atlantic, and the elves were loath to travel so far from their community. To the immigrants' children, "Sinterklaas" eventually became a myth. It made Nick sad.
One day, Nickolaas' cousin Arwen was visiting. "Why don't you find someone in North America?" he asked. "Surely there must be a kind, generous person who can continue your work and give children a reason to smile."
"Could it be possible? Let's go find out!" Nickolaas felt a new sense of vigor at the thought.
The cousins travelled to North America, using their power like a dowsing stick to lead them to the right person. And, just like magic, they found him.
Simon Banks had a successful life. He'd graduated from college, married his college sweetheart and just had their first child. He wanted to become a cop, but the pay wasn't that good and his wife, Joan, reminded him that she'd quit her job to have the baby, so he had three hungry mouths to feed. He took a job working for her father, managing a large factory. The pay was great, but the work was boring and, if he was honest, soul-sucking. Daily, he saw workers on the edge of poverty; their kids undernourished. He remembered his own childhood when he often didn't get enough to eat.
Other than the job, he was satisfied with his life and overjoyed when Daryl was born. As he looked at his son sleeping peacefully every night, he wished he could do something meaningful, something that would bring joy to children who didn't have as good a life as Daryl. That heart-felt wish went out like a beacon, drawing the two elves in.
One day at work, Simon's secretary knocked at the door, announcing he had unexpected visitors. He was surprised when he saw one quite old man who had long hair and a beard. The other was considerably younger--and had pointed ears.
When Nickolaas and Arwen explained their idea, Simon though they were nutcases.
"St. Nicholas is a fairy tale," Simon said with a snort. "Something rich folk made up to justify spoiling their kids with gifts."
Taking no offense, Arwen said, "But often fairy tales have a basis in fact. In this case, Nickolaas is a direct descendant of the historical Saint Nicholas. He and his ancestors have been continuing his good deeds. It's just, well, he's getting older and the world is getting bigger. Europe is hard enough to cover, so we were looking to, well, expand operations."
"And you came to me because…?" Simon said, still not quite sure if they were sane.
"Because of your wish, young Simon," Nickolaas answered. "Every night since your son was born, you've wished to make a difference to the children of the world." The elves explained what Nick and his ancestors had been doing to bring joy to children each year. Simon pulled out a cigar--a habit he secretly thought made him look more successful--and lit it as he let the words wash over him.
"And, of course," Arwen was saying, "because you're an elf--"
Simon choked on his smoke, "I'm a what? Are you nuts? Do I look like you'd find me running around in the forest in tights and pointy ears?" He looked at Arwen. "Sorry, no offense."
Arwen nodded graciously. "I only run in the forest on May Day," he answered. "According to our records, your mother's mother was 100% elf. You won't have inherited all her magic, but you'll have some, including a very long, healthy life. You can do this, Simon. You can."
"And I'll still cover Europe," Nickolaas added. "We'll conference so you won't be on your own. How about giving it a trial run?"
Simon looked out his window at the workers, visualizing his current life for the next twenty years, and how different it might be if these guys really were for real. He tried to imagine explaining it to Joan, but it gave him a headache.
"Are you gentlemen hungry? Let's get something to eat." With that, Simon led them out of his office.