The Donut Before Xmas

Originally published on

On Christmas Eve, of all the most wonderful days in the year, Jerry was working at Dee’s Delicious Donuts. Jerry wasn’t particularly happy about this, but who would be on the night before Christmas? Even the weather had been in the chilly holiday spirit. The only thing missing was snow. He could’ve been out shopping or home wrapping gifts, but when the Dee of Dee’s Delicious Donuts asked Jerry to cover the shop, he had to say yes. Instead, it was just Jerry and the sweet smell of donuts behind the counter at the out of the way highway stop.

Unfortunately, Dee’s policy was no eating donuts on the clock. Usually, this seemed reasonable enough, but all the donuts were holiday-themed this time of year. The trays were filled with festive fabrications like spiced gingerbread man donuts, chocolate frosted with peppermint, and even nutmeg donuts filled with eggnog cream. These treats, forbidden to Jerry along with the Christmas classics playing in the shop, felt a little like torture. Although when the song about the hippo played, it was even a little worse than that. 

It was getting late, and there hadn’t been customers in the shop or through the drive-thru for hours. Perhaps people had stayed in due to the combination of rain and uncharacteristically cold weather or maybe just because it was Christmas Eve. Either way, Jerry had already had two peppermint lattes. However, instead of keeping him alert, they only increased the number of times he had to run to the bathroom. Shortly after one of those trips, Jerry leaned over the counter and rested his head on his arm. He stared off and thought of all the fun to come on Christmas day. He took a deep breath, smelling the mouthwatering air, and as he began to doze off, his thoughts drifted to donuts instead. 

Jerry awoke with a start. Elvis was singing about dreaming of a white Christmas, the irony of which did make Jerry pause for a moment. He glanced around the shop, but it was still empty. Had he really fallen asleep standing at the counter? He glanced back at the donuts, which continued to taunt him from their trays. How long had he been asleep? DING The bell for the drive-thru rang, startling Jerry fully awake. He cleared his throat and turned on his headset.

“Hello, welcome to Dee’s Donuts. How can I help you?” he asked. The answer Jerry got back sounded like someone jingling their keys and knocking on the speaker. “Hello. How can I help you?” Jerry asked again. This time the response was the same, but even louder. Jerry rolled his eyes and headed towards the drive-thru window. As he walked over, the rustling and jingling seemed to be loud enough that he could hear it coming from outside. Jerry opened the drive-thru window to see where all the clatter was coming from. The icy wind smacked him in the face and quickly made his eyes water as he stuck his head out the window. As he rubbed his eyes, he heard something moving about, yet no one was there when he opened them.

The drive-thru lane was empty. Jerry looked back and forth through the frigid cold and didn’t see a car or soul in the lot. “Hello,” he called towards the noise. Jerry shook his head before pulling back inside the shop window. Somebody must be messing with me, he thought. Oh, it’s probably Mike again. The last time Mike had come to the store, he had dressed up as an old man and complained about the donuts being too spicy in front of some elderly customers. Though that situation didn’t go well for anyone involved, at least Jerry could laugh about it now. He pressed the talk button on his headset. “Hey Mike, is that you?” he asked. No one responded, but there was definitely someone messing around out there. “Fine,” said Jerry grabbing his coat. Since there was no one in the shop, he headed outside to check out the drive-thru lane.  

Outside, the rain had stopped, but the wind whipped across the open lot. Jerry put his hands over his ears to warm them against the biting cold. There was no sign of anyone out front, so he headed around the side of Dee’s. The drive-thru lane was empty, but Jerry could hear something coming from around back or maybe even the roof. He jogged out toward the back of the building to look at a wider area and try to spot whoever was responsible for the noise. As he did, something caught Jerry’s eye on the roof. He couldn’t quite make out what it was, but something was up there. He jumped quickly to try and get a better look. When he landed, he stopped for a moment and stared in disbelief. He slowly raised his eyes back up to the rooftop and began to back away. He was almost off the lot when he could fully make out what had been making all the commotion. 

Reindeer, standing harnessed together in two lines, stood atop the shop roof just like in all the movies and old songs. They jingled as they moved back and forth, tapping their hooves as they snorted. Behind them, attached to the harness, was a grand ornate sleigh like something out of an old Western movie. Jerry looked around, expecting to see TV cameras or whoever was in on the prank pop out from around the corner. Yet no one did, and as he looked back at the reindeers, he reached for his phone. Jerry looked down and began to panic as he patted his jacket and back pockets. He had left his phone under the counter at the register. Jerry cursed himself quietly in frustration as to not draw attention or scare away the reindeer he was looking at on the roof. 

He quietly headed back towards the front of the shop, keeping an eye trained on the reindeer that he expected to disappear at any moment. As he passed the drive-thru pickup window, he could see someone was moving around inside. He turned to rush back in when a bright red light caught his eye through the window. Jerry stopped and carefully moved in to get a closer look. His head tilted to the side as he tried to comprehend the scene inside the shop. 

Behind the counter was a large person in a crimson coat with a massive white beard moving quickly back and forth. On the other side of the counter was a full-sized reindeer with a bright red glowing nose. Jerry could swear he was looking at the real-life Santa and Rudolph. The big man was moving up and down and back and forth between the donut trays and the reindeer’s antlers, which were presently leaned down over the counter. He was grabbing donuts from the trays and stacking them one by one on each and every antler. 

The man did all this with just one hand while eating a powdered donut in the other. He moved with such grace and speed that Jerry could hardly keep up. In between every other bite, the man shared his donut with the anxiously awaiting reindeer. He grabbed every Long John, fritter, and cruller, stacking them and tossing them with the greatest of ease. The gingerbread men seemed to come to life and danced, spinning through the air into an open red sack. When the reindeer’s antlers were entirely covered, and the bag looked ready to burst, the man lifted the sack with a gentle swing over the side of his shoulder.

Jerry snapped out of his stupor and ran toward the front of the shop. He quickly jerked open the door and burst inside to confront the would-be Santa and Rudolph. To Jerry’s shock, the shop was empty. He ran to the counter, but the pair were gone, and so were all the donuts. “Do you see what I see?” asked Andy Williams throughout the shop.

“Not funny,” responded Jerry to the ceiling speakers. Jerry quickly glanced around before heading back outside. We don’t even have a chimney, he thought as he headed back out the front double doors. 

Jerry stumbled outside and turned around at the sound of jingling to look up onto the roof. He saw above him the bottom of that grand old-timey sleigh. It pulled away higher into the sky, and as it did, white snow began to fall behind it around Jerry. “Ha, snow!” laughed Jerry as he spread his hands out to catch the falling phenomena. Some of the snow landed on his lip, and Jerry could taste that it wasn’t snow, but powdered sugar from the donuts. He shook his head and enjoyed the familiar taste while he watched the sleigh pull up into the night. 

“Ho ho, these donuts really are delicious,” called a booming voice from the distant sleigh. “Merry Christmas!”

“Yeah,” was all Jerry could muster. He raised a hand to wave and stood smiling at the sky long after the sleigh and powdered sugar snow were gone. He took a deep breath and, awestruck, slowly made his way back inside Dee’s. As he glanced behind the counter, Jerry realized he had totally forgotten about the donuts. He hurried behind the counter to get a closer look at the damage. Every single tray was empty. Santa or not, all the donuts were gone. Jerry turned to grab his phone from under the counter. He stopped midway as he noticed a note sitting atop a green wrapped package with a shining golden bow. He quickly picked up the handwritten message, which read:


Thank you for all the donuts! I don’t carry a wallet, but I swear on Rudolph’s nose; I’ll pay for them later in full. Merry Christmas! This one’s on me.


Jerry slightly shook his head as he put down the note. “It’s Beginning To Look Like Christmas” by Bing Crosby played over the donut shop’s speakers. He lifted up the package and briefly felt its weight in his hands before pulling off the green paper. Inside was a warm-looking red beanie hat sitting atop one of Dee’s donut boxes. Jerry picked up the hat and put it on, and of course, it fit just right. Then he slowly lifted the lid on the donut box and took a look inside. Sitting in the box was a single magnificent holiday donut. It was chocolate frosted with peppermint, but the peppermint had been rearranged to say: For Jerry. 

Jerry smiled, and this time finally grabbed his phone. He carefully took a picture of the magical donut. He put down his phone, picked up the donut, and closed his eyes as he took a big bite. Dee’s donuts indeed were delicious, and this one really did taste like Christmas.


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