By ChicagoTunnelKid



Catherine opened the door to her apartment and saw an envelope which had been slid under her door. She divulged herself of the packages she was carrying, and stooped to pick up the envelope. She knew by the handwriting that it was from Vincent. She smiled as she opened the envelope. Inside was an invitation from Vincent to join him for dinner Below. The custom had developed for the first Saturday in December to announce plans for the holiday season and to solicit help after dinner while everyone was gathered. William needed help baking, decorations were needed to brighten common areas, pageants needed planning and recruiting, and secret Santa gift exchanges needed planning. 


Catherine hugged the invitation to her breast, basking in the warmth of being included in the tunnel family’s traditions. And, she thought, I have just the special extra touch to make this evening’s dinner more festive


She threw herself into her preparations to go Below. She needed to arrive a little early to put her plans into action. Opening her closet, she selected her most ugly Christmas sweater that her Father had given her one year as a joke, and she had turned the joke back on him by wearing it cheerfully every year since. She finished with a dark blue pair of jeans and her warm fuzzy boots. She grabbed her coat and an extra-special bag, and headed for the door humming a favorite Christmas carol.


No surprise to her, Vincent was waiting at her ladder, taking her package before helping her down. 


“You are early, Catherine.”


“I know,” she grinned a Cheshire-Sized grin.


Vincent knew enough of Catherine’s body language to know something was up. He could only imagine what it would be and most likely be totally wrong as she continually surprised him.


After her hug, she clasped his hand to pull him toward the tunnels. 


“You seem most anxious,” he noted. “Is there a particular reason we are hurrying toward the hub?”


“Yes, there is. And you will have to wait until we reach your chamber to find out why.”


“And there is nothing I could offer as an enticement to get you to spill the beans?”


That stopped Catherine in her tracks. First, Vincent was bantering with her, using colloquialisms which he normally didn’t do. And the offer he made was so open-ended that she was sorely tempted to test his sincerity. What the heck! she thought. I shouldn’t look a gift-horse in the mouth.


“Okay. For one kiss, I’ll give you a hint.” Her eyes gleamed in mischief.


She thinks I won’t do it, he thought. Here was his chance to surprise her! He leaned over and kissed her forehead.


“I believe you owe me a hint,” he said with a grin.


“No deal, Vincent. You kissed my forehead,” she retorted.


“You requested one kiss and I believe I fulfilled the request, counselor,” he smugly replied with his arms crossed in front of him in the most lawyerly stubborn manner.


“Have you been hanging around a lawyer, Vincent?” She laughed. “Okay. Here’s a hint. It’s something to lend a festive air to the announcement at dinner tonight.”


Knowing Catherine as he did, that could be anything. He sighed. He took her hand and started walking toward the hub.


“I guess I will have to wait, won’t I?”


She grinned in response and resumed humming the carol she had been humming earlier.




When they reached his chamber, she set her bag down on the table. She reached into the bag and withdrew a package covered in red tissue paper. She beckoned to Vincent to sit down on his bed, and he reluctantly complied. He eyed the red package with suspicion.


“What is this? An early Christmas gift?”


“No. Just something to add to the Christmas holiday feeling. Go ahead, open it.”


Out tumbled a hat in red with a white fluffy band around the bottom and a small white ball as the tassel. It was a Santa hat, he believed they were called. He looked up at Catherine in dismay.


“Catherine, I don’t wear hats. With the thickness of my hear, hats don’t fit. Hoods work better for me and provide some anonymity.”


“This hat will fit, Vincent. They make Santa hats to fit all sorts of decorations and I was able to get a large one without raising any sort of suspicion. Go ahead, and try it on,” she encouraged.


He could tell this was not going to be one of those times when he would win the argument. He feared most looking ridiculous. It had to look incongruous - he, some unique-looking beast/man, trying to pass as some facsimile of Santa Claus. How fortunate he had no mirrors in his chamber to confirm his suspicion. Then, inspiration struck! There may be a way out of this yet!


“But Catherine,” he seriously cautioned. “It would not be chivalrous of me to appear so festive next to you when you have no decoration.” He didn’t know which idea pleased him more: that he would win the argument or not have to wear the hat.


“Not to worry, Vincent.” she mischievously dug into the bag once more and spent a moment with her head bent over the bag. 


He would recall this moment over the years as one of the fondest holiday memories he had. She turned around and he burst out in hearty laughter, soon joined by Catherine herself.


And that is how the two of them went into the Great Hall where the holiday preparatory dinner was held. Vincent had on his jaunty Santa hat, and Catherine had on a red nose and two antlers sticking out the side of her head. After gales of laughter subsided, everyone commented how festive the two looked, to which Catherine smiled a ‘I told you so’ smile to Vincent. And with that, a new tradition was born: Santa and Rudolph always attended the Christmas planning dinner.





A drawing of Vincent in a Santa hat

Santa Vincent by SandyX

December 21, 2014