Author : Patricia Stewart, Staff Writer

Kathryn opened the door to let her fiancée in. He brushed passed her and parked in front of the hall mirror. Carefully, he fluffed the snow off of his hair. Satisfied, he turned to kiss her, but stopped short when he noticed that she was still wearing her work overalls. “Kathryn, you’re not dressed yet? My parents are meeting us at Ducasse’s at eight.”

“I’m sorry Quincy, I was so busy that I lost track of the time.” Bouncing on the balls of her feet, she added, “I have a surprise for you. I activated my android this afternoon. Kris,” she yelled, “come out and say hello to Quincy.”

A plump android with a long white beard wearing cotton long johns walked out of the den. His cheeks and nose were a rosy red.”

“What? You’ve spent the last six months building a drunken old man?” exclaimed her fiancée without humor.

“Ho, ho, ho,” bellowed the android. “Don’t be silly, young man. I’m Santa Claus.”

Kathryn smiled. He was soooo perfect. “Kris,” she said, “go put on your red suit.” After the android returned to the den, she turned toward Quincy and put her index finger to her lips. “Shhhh. He doesn’t know he’s an android. I programmed him to think that he really is Santa Claus. I’m taking him to Macy’s tomorrow. The children will love him. He’s so full of joy, it’s contagious.”

“Kathryn!” Quincy snapped. “Have you lost your mind? You’re wasting your degree in cybernetics. You couldn’t think of anything practical to construct? That thing is worthless.”

Belittling her dream angered her. “Would you be happier if I created another pompous ass?” she retorted.

“You could do a lot worse than me, Kathryn. There are millions of eligible women who would kill to be in your shoes. Now, turn that damn thing off and get dressed.”

Kathryn’s eyes began to tear, but she didn’t move.

“Look Kathryn, you either do as I order, or I’m going to the restaurant without you.”

“I have a better idea. Why don’t you just go, for good.” She pulled the engagement ring off her finger and slammed it into his hand.

“You can’t be serious. Okay, forget it. I’m better off without you.” And he stormed out the door.

Kathryn sat on the couch, weeping. Suddenly, she felt a strong, reassuring arm reach around and hug her shoulder, as the android sat next to her. “There, there, Kathy, please don’t cry. Everything will be all right. Look,” he added, “I want to show you something.” He took a magazine from the coffee table and tore out a sheet. He deftly folded the page a dozen ways and produced a beautiful origami swan.

Kathryn managed a smile, although she was still sniffling. She wiped the tears from her eyes and said, “It’s beautiful. But, I didn’t progra… How did you know how to do that?”

“I’m Santa Claus, my dear, I can do anything.” And then he produced a red rose, as if from thin air.

She took the flower and sniffed it. “It’s real. But how?”

“Consider it Christmas Magic. You know,” he added thoughtfully, “Quincy is the world’s greatest fool. And on Christmas Eve, I think I’ll put a big lump of coal in his stocking.”

Kathryn laughed, something only a few minutes earlier she thought she’d never do again. She hugged the cuddly android. “Thank you, Santa.”

“Come,” he said, “let’s go to the kitchen for some milk and cookies?”

“I’d like that,” she replied. “I love milk and cookies.”

“Me too,” he said as his eyes literally twinkled.

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