St Nicolas was tired. This time of year was always extremely busy but the older he got the quicker December seemed to arrive and the bigger the pile of presents seemed to become. The letters had been streaming in for weeks now and were in the process of being sorted. The 6th of December was looming. Mostly he looked forward to it. It was his big day, after all. The reason he existed as Pete, his assistant, kept pointing out. 'If only I had a day named after me,' he would grumble. 'Always doing things for other people and never getting noticed. But if it wasn't for me they'd all be getting the wrong parcels, the way you've been carrying on these last weeks.'
St Nicolas was usually able to cheer him up by promising him the pick of the presents and a slap-up meal at the end of it all, but this year was different. Pete was right. He seemed to have lost his touch, both with customers and colleagues. The trouble was he just couldn't get himself going. And there was so much work to do. Along with the dinosaurs and the dragons and the dolls that could dance, there were stacks of letters asking for Star Wars 6 or Harry Potter 7 and it all had to be compatible with Windows 3000. All these numbers and he never had been good at mathematics. It was making him feel positively dizzy. 'More post,' grinned Pete, as he dragged in another sack. St Nicolas' heart sank. He wondered what was wrong with him. He hoped he wasn't coming down with something. That would be most unfortunate.