Short Stories 366:351 — “Kissing Ms. Santa Claus,” by Jae

When we last left Rachel (the Christmas Grump), she’d managed so end up with a place to have dinner on Christmas Day. Now we’re about a year further ahead, and in “Kissing Ms. Santa Claus,” Rachel is trying to figure out the perfect gift to give Lillian that will make it clear she’s in for the long haul with this relationship. Except she’s kind of pants at gift-giving, and Lillian isn’t a huge fan of materialism or lavishness, and those combine into a rough time for Rachel’s planning skills.

When Lillian asks for a small favour—well, a costume-related favour—Rachel is all-in, even if the beard itches and she doesn’t make a completely convincing Santa. There’s only so many holidays left where Lillian’s son might still believe, after all, and she wants to do this right by Lillian especially. So she gives it a good ho-ho-ho try, and the end result is charming and cute, and then ties into the gift-giving moments just beautifully.

“Kissing Ms. Santa Claus” had the full happy-ever-after vibe I’d found just a bit lacking in “The Christmas Grump,” and as a duet the two stories really gave me the little uplifting vibe I need from holiday stories (as someone who himself has relapses of Grumpness when it comes to the season). That there’s still one more tale to go in the trio was like having my cake and eating it, too, and I hopped right in, reading them all in one go. The three stories in Love Beneath the Christmas Tree probably could be read one at a time, but why would you? I’d be like eating only one chocolate from the box.

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