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Virtanen was the most dramatic thing that happened in the

store the first week of my gig. The Christmas crush grew

worse each day and the sugary carols I heard dozens of

times a shift hurt my ears. I tried to stay far from the guards

as well as from the other Santas, because the child

customers mustn’t see two redcoats at the same time.

Might lose their belief altogether. My own I had lost at the

age of five when I had seen my uncle, who’d raised me,

leave to be the sports club’s Santa Claus. I had confronted

him and he confessed that Santa Claus was make-believe.

Uncle Jari said everyone needed miracles. But you couldn’t

expect miracles on the slush-covered streets of early


I did not place my hopes in anything but my own efforts. I

had lost enough loved ones not to rely on anyone but

myself, but to achieve my wishes I might disguise myself as

anyone, even Santa Claus.

Merja of the cosmetics department told me that the thefts

from her shelves had stopped. She sounded relieved.

“Must be Santa’s miracle-working powers,” she smiled, and

then told me that some of the products were good for