The first convening of the tribunal court went quick. I did not wish to witness the executions, but sat in on the sentencing. Thirty-four CEOs went through the system in record time. Thirty were sentenced to death.
The bodies of the executed were brought before me to show that they were truly dead. Each was marked off the list of the world’s most dangerous, and then summarily disintegrated. Their names were marked in the history books as having been among the most evil people of all time. Their fates were recorded so as to dissuade any who might want to resurrect their evil.
All had to be finished before Christmas eve. And that was approaching rather quickly. For the next eight days, we held the tribunal. Each day, several were executed, the recorded.
By the middle of the eighth day, our brig was finally empty. Over that same period of time, we were able to reprogram the soldiers we had taken prisoner. Those who’d been implanted with loyalty chips were executed, as were those who were programmed to sabotage. The rest were debriefed, then reassigned to several regiments of our own army to train and become a part of.
By Christmas Eve, I was ready for a little merriment. Our many cooks had spent the whole month planning and preparing the meals for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It would be quite a feast. One that our soldiers had earned.
I watched as they filed in and took their places. Once they had all seated themselves, I stepped forward. “For the last ten or twenty years, it has been illegal to celebrate this night. But tonight, we are about to break that law and begin celebrating hope. Our chefs have prepared quite a feast for tonight and tomorrow. Be sure to thank them for sparing no expense.”
A cheer rose from the men and women below me. Once again, we were breaking the law. But this time, there was less chance of getting arrested for it. But was it still the law now that we were taking down the old dominion? Or was it now nothing more than reestablishing an old tradition while adding a new meaning?
The families came in and joined their fathers and mothers, husbands and wives. I knew that the presents had already been distributed for the most part…except for those which I planned on delivering myself, taking on the guise of Santa Claus. I had presents to give all. Practical things for the parents. Toys and games for the children. special gifts that were for the whole family.
Tim appeared beside me. “Is Lil around?”
I looked at him. “I haven’t seen her. Is Simi anywhere around?”
He chuckled. “I don’t know that one either. Have you found a Santa suit for tonight?”
I shook my head. “Not yet. But not everyone who was hunting for one is back. I can’t believe they would destroy all the suits. After all, the corporatization of the holidays was one of the first things that gained them their power.”
He looked over at me. “Ah, but it is a reminder of all that they tried to get rid of. Centuries of joy and generosity. Something they could not stand.”
I gave a lopsided smile. “True. But we must hold out hope.”
Simi appeared three hours later with a handmade Santa suit in her arms. “Sorry. No one could find a premade one, so Matti sewed one using a picture from one of the books in the library. Margot had a hand in it as well. And the boots are also handmade. As is the belt. And hat.”
I chuckled. “Thank you. Time to go change and rehearse.”
She reached up and put old fashioned spectacles on my face, along with a fake beard and mustache. “Might as well look the part.”
I put my hand on my stomach. “Ho, ho, ho.”
She laughed. “You need to work on it. More gusto.”
I chuckled. “I’ll try.”
I gave her a hug, then slipped away from the festivities to get into costume. I also had to go to the “toy room” and gather a bag full of goodies for the children. Both young and old.
It felt odd, slipping into a Santa suit after ten or twenty years of not being able to. But it also felt good. Better than good. It felt great!
I knew, from this point on, Christmas and other holidays would have more meaning. Deeper. More powerful. Not only would Christmas be about hope, it would also be about triumph over oppression.
I knew that my act tonight would be a hit with the kids. They had never been taught about the ancient tradition. Now, they would not only get to see their first Santa, but I would give them a rendition of all my favorite Christmas stories and legends. I knew the tradition would catch quickly, and the children would want it every year.
Margot appeared as I rehearsed. “What does Santa have in his bag for this good little girl?” She grinned mischievously.
I smiled behind the fake beard and mustache. “You will have to wait for your present until after Santa makes his appearance and gives toys to all the good little boys and girls.”
She gave me a fake pout. “Oh, alright. But it better be good, Santa.”
I kissed her. “Only the best for Mrs. Claus.”
We laughed together. I took her in my arms and kissed her again. Lord how I loved her! She made life worth living. I only hoped that I was showing her how much I loved her often enough.
With the war, it was difficult. I had a revolution to run. Finding time to show her what she meant to me was hard. Sometimes almost impossible. I often had too much on my mind. Too many worries.
But I believe she knew how I felt. I hoped she knew without me having to tell her. But telling someone how much you love them is important at all times. Not just in times of peace. And so, I continued to struggle with keeping her covered in my love.