Sitting quietly while drinking her tea, Ms. Claus gazed into the fire and appreciated some relaxing time. After months of activity preparing for Christmas, it was nice not to worry about anything that needed to be completed immediately. Hearing the door to the study open, she turned and smiled. “I wondered when you were going to arrive. Pour yourself some hot chocolate and have a seat by the fire, Santa. It’s wonderful just to relax.”
“Anya, I’ve been looking forward to unwinding all day with you.” Walking over towards Ms. Claus, a mug of hot chocolate in my hand, I sat in my favorite chair by the fire. “It’s nice and cozy in our study,” I said, stretching my legs as the recliner unfolded in front of me.
“What took you so long? I thought you would have shown up an hour ago. What happened to the Santa who promised he’d learn how to relax more?” Ms. Claus remarked with a grin.
“I know, I know…., but Bernard and I were looking into some ideas about toys for next year and well….”
“No excuses Santa. You do realize that Bernard’s job is to develop the list, and then you look at it in April. He’s been doing this for years, so let him be. Has he ever let you down?”
Shaking my head, I smiled sheepishly. “No dear, but it’s so hard to slow down after the official end of the Christmas season, January 7th. I feel …….”
“Restless?” she questioned, slipping her hand over mine and giving it a little squeeze.
“Yes, that’s it exactly. I feel like I should be doing something, but what?” I asked. “Outside of the challenge of training more elves to become Scout Elves to fill all the requests we have received so far, everything seems to be running smoothly. Besides Birdie took care of that situation quickly once we called her attention to the problem,” I explained. “Honestly Anya, I have nothing to do.”
“Well dear, what you need is a project!” she exclaimed grinning, “one that gives you a reason to get up in the morning but allows you to stay out of the way of the elves as they begin gearing up for next Christmas.”
Laughing, I shook my head and finally responded. “First you tell me to relax and enjoy some down time; then you suggest that I take on another project. You need to explain this one Anya.”
“Well… I’ve been thinking about things only you could do, and I could help from time to time,” Ms. Claus explained looking at me directly. “What if you collected some of the stories about your experiences throughout the year with people, especially children and their families, and the things that have happened around the North Pole.”
“Like the ones I share with the children on my blog,” I interrupted.
“Yes! We could put them in a booklet for the elves and give them each a copy as a Christmas gift.”
“But we always have the annual Cookies and Milk Party with them!” I answered puzzled.
“I know we do, but wouldn’t it be nice to surprise them with an unexpected treat? They love hearing the stories you and I often share with them, but they have never been printed in a book. Some of our elves are new and others have forgotten some of the stories we have told them.”
Anya paused and waited for Santa to respond. Though my face revealed nothing, I’m sure she knew what I was thinking. I stared straight ahead and began stroking my beard. Finally, I put the recliner in an upright position and turning in her direction answered quietly, “Anya, I think you may have something. I do have a lot of stories and yes I share them,” I said slowly, “but none have been put down in a place where the elves can read them whenever they want.” As I reached over and took Anya’s hand in mine, I added, “So, if you were going to make some suggestions, what would be one of your favorite stories?”
“Oh that’s easy,” Ms. Claus responded. Standing up and moving closer to the fire, she began to explain. “Remember the time we had dinner with friends at York Street Café several years ago in early December?”
Nodding, I responded slowly, “I think so. Wasn’t that restaurant in Kentucky?”
“Yes!” she exclaimed. “Our friends and I were already there, but you came in late. As soon as you sat down, the owner came over and asked, ‘Did anyone ever tell you that you look a lot like Santa?’ We all smiled and you answered, ‘How do you know I’m not?’ And then the man just laughed and answered, ‘That’s a good one’ as if you were simply an older man with a white beard who resembled Santa.”
As the memory grew stronger, I continued. “He wanted me to talk to the children of one of his employees who were arriving soon. She was bringing her twin boys, age six if I recall, in with her.”
“That’s right. One of the twins had just gotten glasses for the first time and was feeling self-conscious. He didn’t want to wear the glasses and kept them in the case most of the time.”
Feeling secure about the memory, I smiled. “That’s right! When they walked past, I looked up from the table and said, ‘Daniel… David, it’s so good to see you.”
“Remember how surprised they looked,” Ms. Claus remarked, “especially when you asked Daniel why he was not wearing his new glasses. I think they would have spent the rest of the night talking with you if their mom hadn’t reminded them that Santa was probably hungry and needed to order his food.”
Again, stroking my beard with my fingers, I slowly responded. “You’re right Anya, that’s a great memory, but the elves know I am Santa, so……”
“That’s the point dear. They knew that, and so did the children, but the adults didn’t. They would find the story both humorous and touching because they can’t understand why most adults don’t believe in you.”
Taking a long sip of hot chocolate, I stared into the fire quietly reflecting on past memories. Finally, I looked at Anya. “I’m not sure that I told you about an experience I had this past year, but it really showed me the beauty of the season and how it affects people. “I was at a Christmas event for children. When one family came up to get pictures with me, I noticed one of the boys seemed a bit out of sorts. He never did sit still for a picture.”
I leaned forward and put my elbows on my knee. “When everyone had their pictures, I noticed the same little boy sitting on the floor of the gym. He was talking to himself, and I sat down a few feet from him. After a while, he moved closer to me and started asking questions about my suit and hair. He began rubbing my arm and repeated saying ‘soft.’ Then he laid his head on my shoulder and I patted his hand.”
“That must have made you feel good?”
“It did! Later his mother came up to me and explained that he was autistic and did not connect with others. That was the first time he ever allowed anyone to touch him. The smile on her face, as she showed me a picture she took of us on the floor, made me realize that she just got her Christmas wish early.”
“That is a beautiful memory,” Anya said quietly. Walking over to me, she slid her arms over the chair and around my neck. “I think you understand how much enjoyment your stories can bring to others, and you have so many to share.” Kissing the top of my head, she whispered, “So what do you say Santa? Shall we tackle this project together?”
I hope you enjoyed today’s story. I will post another one next Monday. If you have any comments or if there is something you would like me to tell you about, please feel free to leave me a comment. Until next week . . .
Illustration by FireMane Studio