After Seven terried the children last year as the Head Elf when I played Santa Claus for the Enterprise children last year, I've decided to hold a lottery to choose who will have the Elf title this year.
Deanna approaches me. She is looking a little nervous.
"Well, Deanna" I ask, "Who has won the lottery this year to look after the children? Is it you, Beverly, Ro, Jadzia or..."
You won't like it, Captain." she tells me with a slight tremble in her voice.
"As long as it isn't..." I start to say, and her the clump of Doc Martens boots approaching in an adjacent corrider."
"Please, Deanna" I ask, "Say it isn't so."
"I'm afraid so, Captain."
Ensign Britney comes towards me.
The Deltan Ensign is wearing a blonde wig, a bright green transparent dress that seems to be barely on and large Dr Martens boots.
"Okay, Captain." she says, "I've got my elf costume on. I'm ready to start."
"You can't go in like that!" I exclaim, "It's hardly the sort of outfit an Elf wears."
"They do on the planet Delta, where I come from from." she replies quickly, "You know about the rule in Starfleet about wearing native dress."
Britney is pretty sharp when she wants to be. Regretfully, I have to let her wear it, while Beverly, Ro and Deanna wear normal elves outfits while being her helpers."
Hours later, the children are lined up outside the holodeck, which has been programmed into Santa's Grotto. I'm in the centre of it, dressed as Santa Claus. The Elf Helpers welcome the children, while the Head Elf (Britney) takes them to meet me.
I hear lots of excited children waiting. Through a hole in the cavern, I see the first child coming in. Beverly, dressed in a bright red elf costume takes the young boy, who I recognise as Jason, son of Crewman Brown to Britney. His eyes light up when he sees Britney.
Britney takes out her chewing gum and places it under a rock, ready to pick up later.
"Do you wanna meet Santa?" Britney says to Jason, and the young boy takes her hand.
A few moments later, Jason approaches. I am in a big red outfit, with a cushion down the front and a large white beard.
I start saying "Ho, ho, ho, young man."
"Do you wanna sit on Santa's knee?" Britney asks Jason.
"No!" Jason replies firmly, "I want to sit on YOUR knee, Britney!"
"I'm the Head Elf." Britney says.
"If you say so." Jason comments, "I'll still prefer to sit on your knee."
"If you don't sit on my knee." I tell him, "I won't bring you a present on Christmas Eve."
Grudgingly, he complies, and I ask him what he would like for Christmas."
"Ensign Britney!" he pipes up sharply.
"Santa can't give people as presents." I tell him.
"Why not?" Jason asks, "You are Captain Picard, after all. They have to do what you tell them."
I groan again. I think Jason is a little too old to visit Santa.
After a few more visits, we have a work break. Britney gets her chewing gum from the rock and starts on it again.
"Do you want some spare chewing gum?" she asks.
At first, I say no, then realise I'm not going to get anything else. I reluctantly take some gum from Britney.
The break is over a few moments later, and I start to take the gum out, but get it all tangled up in my beard.
I am fighting to get the gum out when Britney brings in little Meredith to see me. The gum gets even more tangled in my beard and I am forced to tear my beard off.
This causes Meredith to cry, and runs from the Grotto, wailing, "Santa has lost his beard!"
Why is it things never go right when I play Santa Claus?