“Jingle Bells, The Squash Smells, But He Smells Real Good!” sang Eugene Spratt as he placed the Christmas cookie and milk on the fireplace. There had been five gingerbread cookies on the plate for Santa, but four of them had mysteriously vanished. It was a mystery worthy of the greatest gourd-based superhero, The Squash, but he was on vacation. Christmas vacation! After defeating a cakepire, Triffid, Ladybug Lady and many other crazy creatures whose adventures will be recounted another time, Eugene was ready for a break. Plus, Christmas was exciting enough. Sitting by the fireplace, the glow of the multi-colored Christmas tree lights the only illumination, he dreamed of the morning to come. What presents would he open? A life-size ice cream truck? A banjo? A cheese and sausage basket? A travel coffee mug? A fake moustache kit? Who knew, except for Santa Claus. And that was Eugene’s cue.

“Time for bed,” he said, just as his parents came in to suggest that very thing. Eugene had to be careful with his Squash-like powers (such as ESP, or Extra-Squashlike-Perception), since his parents didn’t know about his superhero identity. “I’m just so excited,” he added, cleverly covering up his faux-pas.

“Off to bed with you,” his mother laughed. “Wait, what happened to Santa’s cookies?”

“Boy, am I tired!” Eugene said, making his way to his bedroom. Stomach full of cookie, head of dancing sugar plums, Eugene crawled into bed. “I cannot wait for Christmas day, I don’t know how I’ll-“ he started.

The next thing he knew, the house was dark and quiet. Almost quiet. There was a scratching at Eugene’s window. For a moment, Eugene was disoriented. His eyes adjusted, and his brain unfuzzed and he realized it was still Christmas Eve night. He went to the window to see what the scratching was, only slightly afraid of what he’d find.

“Ho, ho, ho! Hello there!” the familiar figure in the tree called out. “Eugene Spratt, it is I, Santa Claus! You remember, from the mall and the street corner. I’ve crashed my sleigh into your birch tree, and I could use your assistance.”

“Hi, Santa. First of all, big fan. Second of all, I’m not sure what I can do to help you in your predicament. I mean, I’m just a small boy in the fourth grade. What can I do to help you?”

“Ho, ho, ho! Please, Eugene, you forget. I am Santa, I see all. I know of your super-heroic exploits. I’ve read about them on a blog.”

“You’re the one who reads that blog?”

“The one and only, but listen Eugene! I need you to help me out of this tree. Otherwise, you see, I’ll be unable to deliver presents and Christmas will be ruined. Ho, ho, ho!”

Eugene thought quick. Throwing on his robe and slippers, he leapt from his bedroom window onto the snowy lawn. Shooting a vine from his hand, he pulled the branch back as far as he could, and let go. The sleigh flung through the air, freed from the tree. “Thank you, Squash! And Meeeeerry Christmas! Ho, ho, ho! Green Giant away!”

“Thank you, Santa! Have a Happy New Year!” Eugene said. And they did.

POSTSCRIPT: Eugene had an awesome Christmas! A life-sized banjo! A moustache basket! An ice cream kit! The End!

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