At the moment, I am putting on a red suit and a white beard, having already inserted a large cushion under the suit. Riker is with me, with a smile on his face.
"I don't see why I have to dress up, Number One" I protest, "After all, Santa's Cave will be created on the holodeck. Why can't we have a holographic Santa?"
"It's not the same thing, Captain." replies Riker, "The children are smart and know what is real and what is a hologram." They expect a real person to do it.
Somehow I suspect that Riker is only saying that because he has sadistic tendancies and likes to see me in these sort of situations.
I walk in my Santa suit to Holodeck 2, where the Cave program has been set up.
"Picard SantaCave3; start program."
The doors open and we enter enter a magical cave full of sparkling magical things. Elves are working away, and through a slit, we see a cottage, together with reindeer in the stables.
Riker and I carry on to another section, where I see a giant chair; presents are strewn all around.
"Now that you are here, I'll tell Deanna to let the first of the children through. She's the head Elf."
Riker leaves; I'm sure I hear a laugh from the direction he has gone.
I sit myself down on a really hard stone chair. That cushion I put for my stomach might be better used on the chair."
The first little horror is about to come in.
Deanna, all dressed in her Elf outfit comes in, holding the hand of a little five year old. She hides behind Deanna.
"She's a little shy, Capt...I mean Santa." says Deanna, "This is Felicity."
"Ho ho ho!, little girl" I say, "Don't be afraid; come to Santa and tell me what you want for Christmas."
Felicity approaches me, and haltingly starts to tell me what she wants.
Then she is sick over my red outfit.
Deanna quickly leads Felicity away, who is crying. I have to get cleaned up before the next one comes in.
She returns soon with the next child, who is about six; he has a truculant face.
"This is Malcolm" announces Deanna.
Malcolm marches up with a look of determination.
"Now here's the deal, Captain." he tells me, "You will provide me with all the items that I want with the replicators, or else I tell the others that you are not Santa Claus, but are merely Captain Picard, and that the Head Elf is Deanna Troi. Got it?"
He runs through the items, that generally are fighting weapons from various races, especially the Klingons, and also devices of high intellectual skill."
"A pleasure to do business with you, Captain!" says Malcolm, as he leaves the Cave.
I wonder if he is related to the Ferengi? His ears did seem a little large.
That boy will go far.
Deanna brings in another little girl, who has a ponytail and is clinching a doll.
"This is Melody." she tells me.
"Hello, Melody!" I say in my booming Santa-type voice, "And what can Santa get for you?"
"Hello Santa" she says, as she unfurls a list, "I'd like a Barbie Counselor, a Barbie Doctor, a Barbie Commander, a Barbie Captain, a Klingon Barbie, a Romulan Barbie, a BorgDrone Barbie, a BorgQueen Barbie, a Bajoran Barbie, a Cardassian Barbie..."
Melody carries on for about ten minutes, then hands her list to Deanna.
After Melody has left I tell Deanna, "Do you think the replicators can take the strain?"
The children pass by one after the other; the stone chair is beginning to feel very hard!
Eventually Riker comes in, still with that grin.
"Richard was the last one, Captain. That's your duty as Santa done for another year."
He goes off, holding the Head Elf's hand.
A battle with the Borg seems so much easier than being Santa!