—  Ken and Vesta  —

Wedding and Portrait Photography

541 773-3373

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On Santa’s Twentieth Day of Christmas, he decided to sleep in. The Big Guy wanted him back in Bratislava, but most likely not till after dark. And he had a feeling he’d need all the energy he could muster. He got up at noon, had a hearty meal. Well, as hardy and Mrs. Claus was letting him have these days, broiled salmon and spinach.

Diets, they were for the overweight. And he wasn’t overweight, not much anyway.

So, with a gnawing craving for a porter house steak or a steak of any variety, he went back to bed and slept till sundown. Mrs C had a tuna sandwich for him on whole wheat and he grimaced a thank you, before he ate it.

Then he was off to his sleigh. Rudy and Crew were ready and waiting and in no time they were airborne. He was on a mission from God and he didn’t have clue as to what it was. Sometimes he felt like questioning the Big Guy’s mysterious ways. But he knew it wouldn’t do any good, because God was like, well, he was mysterious more often than not.

Airborne for less than a minute and God rang. “Hit the pubs. Talk to people. Tend bar. Make a few drinks. It might take most of the evening, but you’ll figure out why you’re needed back in Slovakia. God out.

“And that’s that,” Santa thought. "I’m on my own.”

And he was still wondering why God wanted him to tend bar, when Rudy dropped low, flying past the New bridge across the Danube the people of Bratislava were so proud off.

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With Rudy and Crew safely in hiding in the same church parking lot, Santa set off to find a pub. His directions were to meet people, enjoy himself and to tend bar and all would become clear. And all of that was fine with him, because he liked pub crawling, even though he seldom had more than one beer an evening and never, never ever more than two.

In the first pub Santa wandered into, he found a young man named Šimon behind the bar, pouring a drink. He was young, intense and Santa didn’t want to undermine him, by asking if he could tend bar, even though he’d’ve been asking in his special way which most mortals couldn’t refuse.

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So instead he observed and mixed with the patrons, many of who were on the dance floor, having a good time. It was early and the place was packed. Obviously it was a favorite of young people. And, amazingly, there wasn’t a soul in the place setting of his Santa sense, so he figured he wasn’t where the Big Guy wanted him to be.

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As he entered the next pub, his second of the night, he was bowled over by the scent of stew. Beef stew and it smelled delicious. More than anything, he want a bowl. But he knew he shouldn’t and even though his will power was strong, he asked a man who was tucking into his stew, like he hadn’t eating in days. “Is it any good?”

“The best I’ve ever had,” the man said.

“Oh how I envy you,“ Santa smiled and excused himself with a heavy heart.

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At the bar, a girl named Simona was making a drink. She looked happy, like she loved her work.

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However, she was a professional who’d been tending bar for awhile, so when he asked her if he could make a few drinks, she smiled and said, “Santa making drinks in my bar? I’d be proud.”

And so he got behind his first bar of the evening, without having to resort to any special Jedi type mind tricks. However, after an hour of tending bar, his Santa sense was still quiet, so he assumed he was still in the wrong place.

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In his third pub of the evening, he met a bartender named Havel, who was more than pleased to share his place behind the bar with Santa Claus. Again, no mind tricks needed. And again, after an hour, his Santa sense was still quiet.

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Outside the bar, he was beginning to wonder what God wanted of him, as he’d encountered nobody in trouble or who was troubled. How that was even possible, he didn’t know. But it was a good thing.

“Santa,” it was Glory, another of God’s favorite angels.

“What are you doing here?”

“Just taking it easy, but when I sensed you were in town, I thought I’d come by and say hello.” She smiled. “Are you enjoying yourself?”

He had to think for a few seconds. He was and he told her so.

“I’m glad.” And then she was gone, vanished into thin air, the way angels can do.

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In his forth stop, the bartender was glad to cede the bar to him and still again he spent an hour behind a bar, enjoying the heck out of it. This was turning out to be a very good night for him, but he was aware of the fact that there was going to be some kind of crisis in somebody’s life he was going to have to deal with.

And it must be a big one, one beyond the angel’s ability to solve, otherwise God wouldn’t have wanted him on the job.

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In his fifth pub, he encountered a bartender named Dušan, who was so good at his job, that Santa was content to sit and watch him work, which he did in wonder. Santa was a fast learner and he learned a lot watching this skilled man. But again, after an hour, his Santa sense was still silent.

Never before had he been so many places without it going off. Everybody he’d come across seemed to be happy, content and getting along with their lives just fine.

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In his sixth pub of the evening he met Lojza behind the bar, who seemed over the moon with happiness when Santa Claus walked in the door.
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And he was more than happy to have Santa behind the bar. In fact, he asked if Santa wouldn’t mind being incognito.

“That’s a wonderful idea,” Santa said. That way, the patrons would judge him by the quality of his service and the quality of the drinks he made alone and not because he was either Santa Claus or a man in a brilliant Santa suit. So, he donned a white uniform and proceeded to treat each customer the way he’d want to be treated if he were them. And he loved ever second of it.

He spent two hours behind Lojza’s bar and even after all that time with the dozens of customers he served, not a one seemed troubled. No one caused his Santa sense to go off. And dawn was getting close. God had wanted him for a reason and even though he was having one of the best nights of his life, he had to wonder what was up with the Big Guy.

And he was starting to maybe figure it out.

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As he went into his seventh pub of the evening, he knew it was going to have to be his last, because dawn was only an hour away. So whatever was going to happen, which required his urgent assistance in Bratislava, must be going to happen in this pub, very soon. So he was a little on edge and decided he’d tended enough bar, and had had more than enough fun.

So he chatted with the bartender and mingled with the patrons.

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And the patrons were more than happy to see him. They loved his suit and he must have posed for over a hundred pictures with different people. He was really having fun. So much fun he forgot about why he was back in Bratislava. And when dawn was about to break, without his Santa sense having gone off all evening, he decided to head on home.

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As he was about to exit the pub, Muriel, another of God’s favorite angels, poked her head out of the restroom door.

“Did you figure it out, Santa?” She was smiling.

“I think I did.”


“He wanted me to have a night off, to enjoy myself.”

“That’s right.” She was still smiling. “You take everything so seriously. You make everybody’s problems yours.”

“I do,” he said. “I’m Santa Claus. It’s what I do.”

“I know,” she said. “But not tonight.” She laughed. “That’s why Glory and I were here. We took care of those who were in need or troubled tonight, so you wouldn’t have too. We were always one step, or should I say, one pub ahead of you.”

“Thank you for that,” he said. “And thank the Big Guy too.”

“He knows,” she said.

“Yes, I suppose he does.” Now he smiled. “See you around.” And he smiled wider, because he got the words out before she vanished.

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Back in his sleigh, Rudy led him over the New bridge, before heading home.
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“One more time, Rudy,” Santa thought talked to the lead reindeer.

And Rudy turned and made one more pass over the bridge. And Santa smiled, because he would never forget this night.

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