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Have you been told? Did you ever hear
of the curious, furious, fidgety year
when St. Nickolas and his pandaskunk
vowed they were taking a vacation?

How do I know so much about St. Nick?
Well, I’m Nick’s pug, Nacho, and I’ll tell you quick.

It was not long ago, in 2019,
not yet Christmas but past Halloween,
though I can’t give you the very date.
Nick got up that morning late,
pulled on his favorite camo pants,
tamed his blond hair with his hands,
and sat back down on the side of the bed.
“Damn, I’m freaking tired,” he said.
“Playing Santa for the past five years,
delivering presents and holiday cheer,
maintaining his lists of the naughty and nice,
has me running on empty,” St. Nickolas sighed.
“No wonder Santa Claus never had kids.
It’s hard being a dad and Father Christmas.
If Tim Allen can do it, then so can I,
but I’m dreading my annual Christmas ride.”

His wife Lauren warned her husband, “Now Nick,
you must take it easy, not work yourself sick.
Don’t you remember what the doctor said?”
she asked as she tucked him back into his bed.
“It’s important for you to get plenty of rest
to keep your immune system functioning best.”

“But how can I rest while Saoirse is crying?
My baby girl needs me,” said Nick, sighing.
“And who will make Odin his breakfast and play
if Daddy just stays in bed all day?

“Who do you think does all that while you’re away?
Trust me, I’ve got this. Enjoy your sick day!”

“That’s a nice gesture, babe, but it’s not like I can
just take a whole day off from being a dad.”

“No, but you can take a break from being Santa.
Why don’t you give Brian a call in Atlanta
and see if he’ll fill in for you this year?
I’m sure he’d love to spread holiday cheer
so you can stay home with your kids and your wife.
Doesn’t a relaxing staycation sound nice?”

“That does sound amazing,” Nick had to admit.
“A fun, old-fashioned Carter family Christmas.
That is exactly what I could use.
I’ll call Brian up and give him the news.”

On the phone with Brian, Nick said, “Tell the Boys
I’m much too tired to deliver Christmas toys.”

“But… but-but... but Nick, you must be kidding!”
cried Brian. “You’re not? Fine, I’ll do your bidding.
I’ll order a red and white suit from my tailor
and hitch up Petunia to the old Wylee trailer.
I’ll fly with the pandaskunk around the world,
delivering presents for good boys and girls.”

But Petunia the pandaskunk could not go east,
for something was wrong with the mystical beast.
“I haven’t been feeling myself,” she confessed,
as Nick looked in concern at her untouched breakfast.

“What’s wrong? Are you sick?” he asked her in fear.

“I’m not sure, but I think I should stay home this year.
I’m just too tired to travel,” she sighed,
nestling down in her den and closing her eyes.

Nick knew then the decision was made:
They were both taking a holiday.
Some time off would help them get out of their funk.
It was the year without a pandaskunk.