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"I don't know what you're complaining about," Alva said, infuriatingly calm.

Paul took a deep breath and counted to ten. "You don't. Really? Not even a small clue?" He tugged at his collar, mentally cursing his ridiculous costume.

"The legend of Father Christmas is centuries old and almost universal." His tone was dryly intellectual, but, even so, Paul could swear Alva was laughing at him. "Although traditions vary, almost every culture that celebrates Christmas has some version of the legend – Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas, Kris Kringle. Really, Paul, I'd think you'd leap at the chance to participate in a ritual involving such a wide-spread mythological archetype. It's a golden opportunity, if you think about it."

"Plus," Evelyn said. "Think of how happy you'll make all those children!" She was definitely laughing at him.

Paul scowled at the her. "I just don't see why I have to be the elf." This shade of green was not his color, and the curly toes of his shoes made it really hard to walk.

"Because," Alva said. "The Santa suit fit me better." He settled his fake beard into place and picked up the giant sack of presents and slung it over his shoulder. "Shall we be off?"

"God bless us, every one," Paul said sourly, and went to get his coat.


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