“He saw the distinct shape of a hand carefully placing one more stocking alongside the others. Though Jakob was sure he saw it, at first he didn’t believe it was real. It took him a long time to figure out there was no Santa, and short of a miracle, he wouldn’t be quick to change his mind.”
Another Christmas and nothing had changed for 5-year-old Jakob. Papa still had no job, the family still had no money, and Jakob still had the same pair of old, threadbare socks only now with holes in them. This was the Great Depression, a time of hardship for many families, the Strumpfs included.
Year after year, Santa brought nothing for the Strumpfs but a hand-written promise that next Christmas would be better. Jakob’s older brothers and sisters believed Santa would keep his promise and bring them a gift this year—even Mama and Papa believed—but Jakob doubted. When a sensitive boy loses heart, his family must help him find it.
These days, Christmas may be a season of abundance, but this solemn tale introduces young readers to an era of struggle. A generation after Bern learned to believe in Santa in Light in the Snow, Jakob carries on the Strumpf tradition of turning hardships into happiness. With contemplative and compassionate prose, this remarkable story reminds us that where there is love, hope can flourish despite poverty.
Cold Feet is a 4,300-word short story.