12 Days of Christmas – Mike Curato

I have a terrific friend called Mike Curato – the creator of the Little Elliot books. He lives in New York City and when I am there we go to absolutely fantasmagorical hipster restaurants. I am so thrilled that he could join these 12 Days.

Mike has a wonderful reflection of a very special Santa Claus that might just ring true for a few others too.



When I was 4, I had an anxiety-riddled few days leading up to Christmas. I wasn’t convinced that Santa was coming. Mom and Dad’s schedule did not allow for them to take to me to the mall to meet Santa. How was he going to know what to bring me!?

“Don’t worry, Mikey, you wrote Santa a letter,” Mom reassured me. “Santa reads all of his letters.” I was unconvinced. I wrote a second letter, to be thorough.

On Christmas Eve, I was carefully placing Santa’s cookie plate on an end table when the doorbell rang.

“OH! Look who it is, Mike!” she pointed. Santa was standing outside. “Come in, Santa!” He had the suit, he had the beard, he had the HO HO HO, but something seemed…off.

“HO HO HO, MERRY CHRISTMAS!” Santa boomed…well, kind of boomed. “Come give Santa a HUG!” I just stood there with my mouth agape.

“Are you really Santa?” I asked.

“HO! HO! Yes I AM!” said Santa.

Santa was somehow familiar. He seemed younger, skinnier, and he reminded me of my aunt. Because he was my aunt.

“What are you doing here, Santa?”

“I wanted to make sure that you were being a GOOD BOY.”

“Did you get my letters?”

“YES! My elves wrote it ALL DOWN on a very LONG LIST!”

“Santa, how can you get into our house at night when we don’t have a fireplace?”

“I have a MAGIC KEY!” he declared. He had all the right answers, but I was still skeptical. Because he was my aunt.

Suddenly, a THUMP THUMP THUMP echoed from the ceiling. What I didn’t see was my other aunt throwing pinecones onto the roof.

“WHAT was THAT?!” I jumped.

“That’s RUDOLPH! He’s on the ROOF! Do you have a carrot that I can give him?” Santa had me now.

“YEAHI’LLBERIGHTBACK” I screamed. I returned with the largest carrot I could find.

“OHHH THANK YOU!” said Santa. “Now, go to BED! My magic key only works when boys and girls are ASLEEP!”

“YES, SANTA!!” I flung my arms around him.

“HO HO HO, I have to go now. MEEEERRY CHRISTMAS!”

“MERRY CHRISTMAS, SANTA!” I waved feverishly until the door was shut.

The next morning, I was relieved to discover a full spread of presents under the tree, including the grand-daddy of all 1980s Christmas gifts–a POWERWHEEL! And that was the Christmas I became a true believer in S-AUNT-A Claus.


Mike Curato lives in Brooklyn, NY, USA. The only thing Mike Curato loves more than eating sweets is writing and illustrating children’s books. He is best known for his Little Elliot picture book series, which features a small cupcake-eating, polka-dotted elephant, living in late 1930s New York City. His latest books are Little Elliot, Big Family and Worm Loves Worm (available Jan 5th). You can uncover more about Mike at: www.mikecurato.com

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