Santa lay in a crumpled heap on the barn floor. He'd been sobbing.
The elf poured a little bit of something from the bottle he was holding into a glass and held it out. “Need to get started soon. Lots of kids waiting for you. Tonight's the night. The big one. Horrible little sprogs I think. But never mind.”
Outside the barn Santa's sledge was piled high, reindeer harnessed, all that was needed was the solitary designated driver – Santa.
“So this Rudolph turned you down, said 'he's not that kind of reindeer,' said 'lets just be friends,' said 'strictly no snogging, mistletoe or no mistletoe.' There are plenty of other reindeer in the… well, it can't be 'sea'. Agh yes… There are plenty of other reindeer in the wood.”
Santa blew his nose and the sledge and barn rattled. There was no Rudolph on the sledge.
“I know all about the Alcoholics Anonymous stuff; too much sherry. Not supposed to touch this but the state you're in, just something for the journey, to keep you going, what harm can it do? Need to get started soon, sun's going down.”
Santa started to cry.
“You just have to get over him; red nose or no red nose. He's not worth it… don't blubber I didn't mean it like that. Sorry. Just one little swig to get you through.” The elf held out the glass again.
Santa grabbed the bottle.
“Steady on there,” said the elf.
* * *
Blearily Santa woke up Boxing Day morning in a solidifying pool of his own vomit.