Mr. Anthony didn’t like children. Yet, to him, children meant money, as he owned an expensive toy shop in Mumbai. For the sake of business, he often pretended he was fond of 'little ones', but it cost him an effort and made him feel cross afterwards.
Soon it would be Christmas, a time when lots of toys were sold, and Mr. Anthony made a lot of money. He had already made so much, that he had plans to open a new shop in another town which was not as big as Mumbai. But it had a large Christian population with many churches and a wonderful hospital run by Christian missionaries and a dedicated doctor. The new shop would not be ready in time to make money this Christmas. Still, the shrewd Mr. Anthony decided he would advertise the shop beforehand, by inviting all the important people in town, and distributing free toys among the town’s poor children. He, himself, would dress up as Father Christmas. The toys wouldn’t cost much since he had a huge amount of leftover toys which wouldn’t sell, and nobody wanted. Mr. Anthony would also distribute toys in Mumbai, as he did every year, but that was to the town’s rich children whose parents selected the best toys from Mr. Anthony’s shop, and paid for them.
Mother Superior, at the Convent in the new town, didn’t know Mr. Anthony, and thought he was a kindhearted man who really felt for the poor. She drew lots among the children, to choose fifty lucky ones for fifty free gifts, and she offered Mr. Anthony the Convent premises for his function. He, of course, was very pleased.
On the day of the function, all the important people made speeches praising Mr. Anthony’s generosity. When it was his turn to speak, Mr. Anthony couldn’t think of anything to say, so he got up and said “Ho, ho, ho.”, as he believed Santa would have done, and sat down again.
As soon as he started distributing toys, Santa discovered a terrible mistake had been made. Instead of the cheap, shoddy, unwanted toys that he intended giving away, he was handing out expensive, imported items worth hundreds of rupees each. Somebody in Mumbai, had mixed up the sacks containing presents for the poor children, with those meant for the rich ones. The thought that he would have to pay for all the expensive toys out of his own pocket, made Santa furious.
The children though, were amazed and delighted. They never expected presents like these. One little girl was so overcome with her doll which said “Mama I love you” and made 'susu' at the same time when you squeezed it, that she climbed up on a chair and kissed Santa on both cheeks. Never before had any child wanted to kiss Mr. Anthony. He felt very strange. His eyes turned moist, and suddenly his dislike of children, disappeared.
“This is no mistake”, he said to himself. “The spirit of Christmas has taken me over.”
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