A light dusting of snow fell over the silent town. It was Christmas Eve and I was in bed, trying hard to resist the temptation to go downstairs and open all the presents under the tree. I was hungry for a snack – or at least that’s what I was telling myself – so I got up and went to the kitchen. I crept through the living room without even looking at the Christmas tree, and that’s when my eyes landed on him.

Well actually, I landed on him. His feet were sticking off the edge of the sofa where he lay, and I tripped as I walked past, losing balance and falling onto his lap, just like when I was a child. He laughed his hearty laugh, recognizable anywhere, and, I must admit, my first impulse was to be afraid.

After all, there was a man in my living room. Dressed in red, with a long white beard, smiling broadly, but nonetheless in my living room. It was the last thing I expected. Of course, I pretended for the kids’ sake, but in reality, I hadn’t believed in him since a kid at my school – I couldn’t have been older than ten – told me he’d recognized his dad’s face behind the Santa beard.

And yet, there he was, drinking my milk (straight from the carton) and eating my cookies (right out of the box). The encounter couldn’t have been more real, more magical, or more wonderful. I was speechless.

“Don’t make that face!” He exclaimed, giving me a friendly pat on the back.

“It’s just… ” I stuttered. “It’s you! You! And you’re…” I trailed off. “Quite real.” 

“Yes. It’s a bit of a shock, I know. Don’t worry,” he said reassuringly, “it’s perfectly normal. I’m used to it.”

“Can I ask… To what do I owe this honour? Can I get you a glass for your milk? A plate for your cookies? Would you like a piece of fruitcake? It’s not very good, but I made it myself…”

“Ho! Ho! Ho! Calm down young man. I’m here because I need a favour.”

“Anything, anything for you. How can I help?”

I was as nervous as a child, all the more so because of my keen awareness of the improbability of my situation. He sat back down, and a serious look came over him as he placed a hand on my shoulder to soothe me. I don’t know if you can picture Santa Claus looking serious, but it’s fairly impressive.

“I need insurance, and you’ve been highly recommended to me.”

“Pardon me?”

“I need to insure my workshop, my house, and of course my sleigh… The whole nine yards!”

“Ok… ” I said slowly. “But I’m not sure I’ll be able to…”

“Don’t worry,” he interrupted. “Give it a try, and we’ll see.”

Before diving into this delicate exercise, I needed to gather my thoughts, and try to bring to mind everything I’d learned about Santa Claus over the years. I grabbed a cookie and took a swig from the carton of milk Santa Claus had been drinking (the same carton!). I put my mind to work…

He lives at the North Pole with his spouse, so, in a region particularly vulnerable to global warming (risk of flooding and water damage) and possibly subject only to international laws (legal grey area). He has a toy workshop (professional space). He has domestic employees (elves). He would have to have a stable, or something similar, for his reindeer (agricultural risks). He has a vehicle on skis… that flies (prohibited modifications? aviation law?). He uses his sleigh to travel around the world in a single night (speeding violation?).

On December 24, he has an escort of four CF-18 fighter jets from the Royal Canadian Air Force, once his departure from the North Pole is detected by NORAD (increased surveillance by authorities…). He would need to have a mailroom (manual or automated?). He’s responsible for countless home invasions (criminal record?) by jumping down chimneys that aren’t necessarily well maintained (risk of workplace accidents), no one has the foggiest idea of how he does quality assurance for his toys (civil liability risk), and… and…

“Santa Claus…” 

“Call me Santa.” 

“Is that your real name?”

“Not exactly,” he said. “It’s Nicholas, but I prefer Santa.”

“Okay. Santa, I’m not sure if I can insure you.”

“Why not?”

“Because I’m completely overwhelmed, and it’s clouding my judgment.”

“Is that all?”

“You definitely have a unique set of circumstances,” I explained, “but in the end, with a little imagination, I’m sure we could come up with a solution…”

“With some imagination…”

“But, in this state, I’d be afraid I’d forget something, and I wouldn’t want to do you a disservice.”

“I understand…” he said. “In any case, you should probably know…”

“What is it?”

“Even without a policy, I’ve already got one Claus! Two if you count the missus… ” He slapped his knee and let out a guffaw. “Ho! Ho! Ho!”

“Ummm… Did you just make an insurance pun?”

He gave me a wink, and then…

I awoke in my bed. Was it all a dream? I went downstairs to look around. There was no trace that he had been there.No milk, no cookies, no footprints, or anything else. I had imagined the whole thing. Except…

My wife called to me from the kitchen:

“Honey? Can you pick up some milk? I was sure we still had some, but the carton in the fridge is empty… ”