By Tim Porteus

THE bus had just reached Musselburgh when a Santa got on.

He had the full outfit, complete with beard and boots. Maybe he wasn’t ‘a’ Santa, but ‘the’ Santa; who knows.

“Hello Santa,” said an amused old woman sitting in the front downstairs seat of the bus. She had a wee giggle with her friend.

“Hello, happy Christmas,” the Santa replied.

“What’s happened to your sleigh?” joked another passenger.

“Got stuck in traffic, I’m in a hurry and the 26 is better cause it can use the bus lanes,” the Santa replied.

The Santa made for the back of the bus and sat down. He was relieved to be on the bus.

He had missed the previous one and now he was late for the event. He knew he’d have to get off quickly when he reached his destination and have no time to change.

So he had decided to put on his costume at the bus stop. He was in a jolly mood now.

The bus stopped regularly, picking up more passengers and there were surprised and amused looks when they spotted the Santa at the back of the bus.

Then a mother with her five-year-old son got on.

“Look mum! Santa’s on the bus!” he called out.

The boy’s mother held his hand but he dragged her towards the seats at the back and they sat just in front of the Santa.

The boy turned round, sat up on his knees looking over the back of his seat and stared at him. The boy had a huge grin and waved at the Santa.

The Santa waved back and gave him a big smile.

“Hiya Santa,” said the boy.

The mother whispered to her son to sit down.

The boy did as he was told and sat down, although not for long. He turned round again while his mother was distracted on her phone.

He looked at the Santa with a big grin and the Santa smiled back.

“Are you looking forward to Christmas?” he asked the boy.

“Yes, lots,” the lad replied excitedly. “Can you bring me a scooter please Santa, please?”

His mother heard this and put her phone away.

“What did I tell you, leave the man alone,” she said, making him sit down again. She seemed stressed.

“He’s not a man, he’s Santa,” protested her son. His mother turned round, looked at the man and sighed.

“He’s going to give me a scooter, mum,” said the boy excitedly.

“Joe, I can’t afford a scooter, maybe next Christmas.”

“You don’t have to give me a scooter, mum, Santa is giving me one.” The lad once again scrambled up onto his knees, turned round and looked the Santa in the eye, and said: “Aren’t you Santa?”

The man said nothing, now feeling rather awkward. But the boy looked at him longingly and so the Santa said: “I will see what I can do.”

“See mum, he’s getting me a scooter! Aw, thanks Santa!”

The mother seemed upset and turned round.

“Please,” she said to the man, “could you tell my son you are not really Santa? I can’t afford a scooter and I don’t want him to be disappointed on Christmas Day.”

This was now getting very awkward. The other passengers were watching what was going on. The man dressed as Santa looked at the wee lad who was looking at him, waiting for his answer. The mother was also looking at him.

He was in a terrible dilemma. He understood that the mum must be in a difficult situation and he didn’t want to cause disappointment on Christmas Day by promising something he wouldn’t get.

So the man raised his hand to his beard to pull it off and prove he wasn’t Santa. But as he looked at the boy he realised he simply couldn’t do it.

“Oh, look it’s my stop,” said the Santa, getting up as quickly as his old bones would let him.

“Just wait and see,” he said to the boy, touching his nose and smiling. The man saw the young lad peering out of the back window as the bus drew away, waving.

The Santa waved back.

Early the next morning there was a knock on the door of Joe’s house. When his mum opened it she found a large parcel, all wrapped in Christmas paper.

“What is, what is it?” asked Joe bouncing up and down.

The mum read the label: “To Joe; not to be opened until Christmas Day. Love from Santa.”

“Wow, it’s my scooter!”exclaimed the lad almost bursting with joy.

The box was surely big enough for that. The mum looked up and down the street. Who had delivered it, she wondered?

On Christmas Day, Joe went with his mum to visit some friends. He, of course, didn’t walk but scootered along the way on his new scooter.

They passed Mr Smith, who was taking his dog for a walk. He smiled.

He was heading back to his house for a phone call from his son and grandchildren, who now lived in Australia. Since his wife had passed away, Christmas was an especially lonely time for him.

That’s why he enjoyed his wee job of being Santa at the toy store. When he put on the costume, people spoke to him and noticed him. It made him feel valued.

He’d never say this, of course, because it sounded so daft, but although Santa didn’t bring him presents, being Santa was his Christmas present. It made him feel connected, it lifted his depression and got him out. When he took off the costume he’d be back to old Mr Smith, who few folk noticed or spoke to.

As Joe whizzed past him on the scooter he’d bought with the money he’d earned that week, his mum glanced at him and said a polite “hello”.

“It was me,” he said to her.


“I was the Santa on the bus, I hope you don’t mind. I didn’t mean to put you in an awkward situation.”

Suddenly the mum understood.

“Oh, I thought it may have been someone else, oh that’s real kind of you. I will tell him so he can thank you.”

“No,” he said, “maybe tell him when he’s older if you want. It’s as much a gift for me to see him so happy that Santa thought of him so much.”

“Happy Christmas.”