Making Friends

Ms. Claus and I were about to sit down for lunch in the dining hall when she nudged me. “Who is that little elf sitting all by herself in the corner?”

“That’s Candice. She just arrived the other day to start school at Elf University.”

“She looks sad. Has Candice made any friends here yet?” Anya asked standing by her chair.

I glanced over to Candice and remarked, “I’m not sure.”

Anya kept her eye on Candice while motioning to me, “We need to go sit with her.”

As we walked up to the table Ms. Claus asked, “Do you mind if we join you for lunch?”

Candice looked up in shock, and before the young elf could answer, Anya and I sat down. “We could not help but notice you were sitting by yourself,” I started. “Will your friends be joining you?”

Candice looked back down at her plate and mumbled, “I don’t have any friends here.”

“That’s hard to believe. The elves here are the friendliest I’ve ever known,” I informed Candice as I looked around the room. “Have any of the elves talked to you?”

“Some have said hi to me.”

Anya was quick to respond by asking, “Did you take the time to talk with them?”

“I said hi back, and then just walked on,” Candice responded as she picked at her lunch.

“I see.” Anya turned to look at me and continued, “I think we have a rare elf here Santa.”

With a look of surprise, I asked “She’s not . . .”

Not letting me finish, Ms. Claus concluded, “That’s right Santa. We have a shy elf here.”

Candice tried to look away from the table as her face glowed a light red. “No need to feel embarrassed or ashamed. Ms. Claus and I would love to share some ways we both got over being shy when we were young, if you’d like.”

For the first time, Candice looked at us and with a smile asked, “You were shy?”

“I almost lost the opportunity of meeting Santa because of my shyness!” Ms. Claus exclaimed.

I smiled at Anya. “I remember that time. Couldn’t understand why you felt so shy, but then I recalled how hard it was for me to meet Gwendolen, the Queen of the Snow Fairies, because I was too shy to talk to her on my own. Bernard had to step in and introduce us. Without the magic fairy dust the Snow Fairies provided, I would never be able to make Christmas happen,” I explained.

“I had no idea.” After a long pause Candice continued, “I can’t see any signs of shyness in either of you.”

“Well… at first you learn how to manage it; then you look forward to talking and being with others.” Anya squeezed some lemon into her tea then looked at Candice. “Can we give you some suggestions?”

“I’d love that!”

“Since you recently arrived, you may have some problems finding your way around the North Pole Village because it is big. So, you should make it a point to ask for help with directions, and be sure to mention that you are new here,” I instructed the elf.

“That’s right. If the elves know you are new, they will most likely not only tell you how to get somewhere, but walk you there to be sure you find your way,” Ms. Claus added.

After taking a sip of hot cocoa, I explained, “Then while you are walking you can talk about other things to get to know each other.”

“But what would I talk about?” Candice asked as she slid her empty plate toward the middle of the table.

“First, remember that there is nothing for you to be nervous or shy about. At one time every elf here was new and trying to find his or her way around and to meet others, just like you,” Anya said as she reached over and patted Candice’s hand.

“Being new, I know you have many questions, so just ask. For instance, ask about the school or the various workshops. Also don’t forget to ask the elves about themselves. What better way to know someone than to ask them questions,” I said eyeing my dessert cookie.

“What if they ask me questions?” Candice asked concerned.

“Why you answer them of course,” Ms. Claus began. “Also tell them what you’d like to do to help Christmas be a success and always answer truthfully. Sometimes new elves want to impress others and exaggerate the truth a bit to make themselves sound more interesting. From my observations, that doesn’t work so well.”

Nodding in agreement with Ms. Claus, I leaned back in my chair. Stroking my beard, I added, “I must warn you, however, that people and elves can fall victim to a nasty problem when meeting others.”

Candice fidgeted with her hat, worried about what I might say. Then in a nervous voice asked, “What would that be?”

“Don’t pre-judge someone. Be open to talking with any of the elves. Until you talk with them, it is impossible to tell what they are really like. Besides, if it turns out you do not hit it off, they may introduce you to someone else who could become a friend.”

A slight smile showed on Candice’s face as she said, “I think I’m beginning to get it. By letting anyone I talk to know I’m new here, they will remember what it was like for them and take a little more time to help me out.”

“That’s right . . .”

Before Ms. Claus could continue, Candice jumped back in, “And the way an elf looks does not reveal his or her true self.” Thinking aloud she added, “Hummmm, I will have to be bold when finding out what they are like and take a risk when letting them know me.”

“Excellent! I think those are the two most important things, if you want to be a part of our community,” I said as I began to push back from the table. “Ms. Claus, I think our work here is done for today.”

Looking at us, Candice smiled. “Thanks Santa and Ms. Claus. You’re the best.”

Later that day, while Anya and I were taking a walk around the courtyard, I could not help but notice a group of elves hanging out in the gazebo at the center of the courtyard. I gave Ms. Claus a nudge and pointed in that direction. “Isn’t that Candice in the middle of those elves?”

“It is Santa!” Anya exclaimed as she smiled and laid her head on my shoulder. “She just needed a little nudge to overcome her shyness and talk to someone.”

“I’m glad we were able to help, but we both know that all you have to do to make new friends is to be open to them and truthful about yourself.”

Notes From Santa

To read more about Gwendolen please check out: Meeting Queen Gwendolen, which was posted on May 25, 2020;

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 

If I Could Be Anything

“Can someone please pass me a graham cracker,” Quinten hollered over the chatter of elves around the fire.

Ms. Claus and I had just settled down on a bench by the fire ring in the North Pole Village courtyard, where the elves were busy toasting marshmallows for S’mores. “Santa, have I ever told you that sitting by the fire with you and watching the elves have so much fun is one of my favorite activities.”

“Maybe once or twice,” I responded laughing.

As Sophia licked the chocolate and marshmallow from her fingers, one at a time, she said, “Let’s play a game!”

All the elves began shouting out the names of games they wanted to play. I put my hands out in front and motioned for the elves to settle down. Once I could be heard without shouting, I said, “That sounds like a fun idea Sophia. Since it was your idea, what game would you like to play?”

“I’d like to play, ‘If I Could Be Anything,’” Sophia responded.

“Is that the one where you name whatever you would like to be if you could choose?” Anya asked, excited about playing a game.

“Yes, but with a little twist,” Sophia responded as she placed another marshmallow on her stick and held it over some glowing coals. “Instead of naming what you would be and explaining why, we should describe what we want to be and everyone else guesses what it is. Whoever gets it right goes next.”

“Since it was your idea Sophia, you should go first,” I instructed her.

“Okay.” Checking her marshmallow, the elf began. “I can dress in bright colors and sometimes travel great distances as the seasons change. The biggest thing I like is the ability to fly high above and look down on everything.”

“That’s easy,” blurted out Lyra. “You would like to be a bird!”

“You’re right Lyra. Now it’s your turn.”

Standing up, Lyra put her hands on her hips and announced, “What I would like to be is covered with fur to keep me warm in the winter and cool in the summer. I am fast and love to chase other animals, but more to play than to defeat them. Someone usually takes care of me, and while petting me makes my caretaker feel good, I like it even more.”

“Who would not know this one,” Slacker yelled as he slid a marshmallow onto his graham cracker. “Ever since you kept and hid Crosley and Mattie from Santa, we all know you’d choose a dog.”

As Slacker took a bite, he waited while enjoying the taste of a S’more. Finally, he announced, “You will never guess what I want to be.”

Anya and I looked at each other as Slacker continued eating. Chuckling, I asked, “Do you think you can take a break from that S’more long enough to describe what you would be?”

“Okay, here you go,” he said. “I spend most of my time eating and sleeping. It can take up to a month for me to digest a meal, which leaves me with little energy. I sleep as much as 20 hours a day.”

“You’re an alligator!” shouted an elf from the other side of the fire ring, while the others remained silent.

“Not an alligator,” Slacker responded with a smirk. Hoping no one would guess, he continued, “I move very slowly, and I am the slowest animal on the planet. Hanging out in trees in the rain forest, I can often be seen using my claws to hang upside down.”

Ms. Claus stood up and waved her hand to get Slacker’s attention. “If I didn’t know better, I would think you are describing yourself.” As all the other elves began laughing, Anya continued, “The one animal that is most like you would have to be a Sloth.”

“I can’t fool you Ms. Claus. Now it’s your turn,” Slacker said as he sat down and continued to eat his S’more.

“I enjoy the friendship of others like me. Running and jumping are some of my favorite things to do. Exploring areas with my friends allows me to see different places. But, most of all, I can carry someone who can’t run as far or as fast as me.”

Putting my arm around Anya’s shoulder, I answered, “Ever since I first met you, horses have always been your second love. Second to me of course.”

“You know me well Santa,” Ms. Claus responded as she fluffed my beard. “Now let’s see if we can guess what you are.”

“As a leader, I am protective of those I live with, and will courageously defend them. If you are respectful and fair, I will be fair and respectful in return.” After giving my description, I noticed confusion on the faces of some elves.

“Santa, you are supposed to describe an animal you want to be, not yourself,” Doheny shouted as she placed a new log on the fire.

“I am describing an animal. If I was this animal, I would also have the ability to adapt to whatever changes come my way. You would also find me to be determined, and not likely to give up. As a matter of fact, I never lose.”

“You’re making this all up Santa!” Folding his arms on his chest and leaning back in his chair, Sledge continued, “Everyone loses once in a while.”

“Not this animal. You see, either I win or I learn, but never lose! Lastly, I am proud and listen to and learn from my elders.”

When no elf was guessing, Bernard stood up and said, “I can’t believe no one has guessed this yet.” Giving the elves a little time to respond, Bernard finally blurted out, “He is a wolf!”

“Bernard is right, If I could be any animal I wanted, I would be a wolf, whose personality and loyalty to their pack is something we could all learn from,” I announced. Looking at the faces of the elves around the fire pit, I added smiling, “I think all of you have a bit of wolf in you as well. After all, we have worked together and learned from one another how to make Christmas so much better for the children!”

Notes From Santa

To read about how Lyra got her dogs please check out: New North Pole Residents, which was posted on March 9, 2020;

To read more about Lyra please check out: How Rudolph Got His Red Nose, which was posted on September 2, 2019; Flying High, which was posted on July 29, 2019; and The Lost Elves, which was posted on February 3, 2020;

To read more about Sophia please check out: Ms. Claus Gets Some Help, which was posted on November 11, 2019; Sensitive Letters, which was posted on November 18, 2019; A Little Bit of Elf Magic, which was posted on April 20, 2020; and Santa’s Favorite Elf, which posted on September 7, 2020;

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 

Santa’s Favorite Elf

Popping my head into the kitchen, the aroma was amazing. “Freshly baked chocolate chip cookies make my mouth water,” I announced loudly while patting my stomach.

“Don’t want to disappoint you,” Doheny said, slipping me a cookie. “Don’t worry, Santa. I won’t tell Ms. Claus.”

“Thanks Doheny,” I replied. Taking a bite, I savored the taste of the cookie and then whispered, “That’s why you’re my favorite baker at the North Pole!”

Turning to leave the kitchen, I could feel that someone was watching me. As I looked around, the only elf I saw was Doheny, and she was busy making cookies. “I must be afraid Anya is going to catch me,” I thought to myself.

Turning left down the hall, I headed to the mail room to see if any important letters had arrived. Knowing that Anya might be in the mail room, I fluffed my beard and dusted any cookie crumbs off my shirt before opening the door.

Entering the mail room, Carter, the elf in charge, said, “Santa, good to see you. Are you looking for your special letters?”

“I am Carter. Is Ms. Claus here?”

“No, you just missed her, but her assistant Sophia has your letters. She is over there,” Carter replied, pointing to the back right corner of the room.”

“Thanks Carter,” I responded as I headed in that direction.

Looking up from her work, Sophia smiled and handed me an envelope. “I just got the letters together for you. There are only two today.”

“It amazes me how you can find these special letters so fast with all the mail we get at the North Pole,” I replied, taking the envelope from her.

“Ms. Claus and I worked hard on our system, and it is quick and efficient, even if I do say so myself.”

“I could not agree more. You’re my favorite special letters elf.”

As soon as I said that, I again felt like someone was watching me and looked around the room.

“Something wrong Santa?” Sophia asked. “You look a little lost.”

“I just keep getting this feeling that someone is watching me.”

“Just your imagination, I’m sure,” Sophia said as she went back to her work.

“You’re probably right. If Ms. Claus comes back, tell her I will be in my office going over these letters.”

Arriving at my office, I stopped and looked down the hall in both directions before entering. Not seeing anyone, I shrugged my shoulders. “If eating a cookie without Anya knowing is going to make me feel like this, I think I have to stop sneaking extra cookies.”

Sitting at my desk, I started reading one of the sensitive letters when Bernard entered. “Sorry to bother you Santa, but I thought I should update you on the bicycle workshop.”

“No problem. Did you fix the issue?”

“Wheelie and I worked all morning on it. Not only did we fix it, but we also made some improvements. The workshop is back on line and on track to meet its quotas.”

I rocked back in my chair and responded, “That’s great news Bernard. I don’t know what I’d do without your management skills. That’s probably why you’re my favorite.”

As soon as I said that, both Bernard and I heard whispering and mumbling coming from the hall. When Bernard opened the door, he found Brixton and Stanley, workers from the stuffed animal workshop, standing together just outside my office.

“Were you two listening to our conversation?” Bernard asked.

His stern expression embarrassed the two elves. “Sort of,” responded Stanley, his face as red as an apple. “You see Brixton and I decided to find out who was Santa’s favorite elf, and have been following him today to see if we could figure it out.”

“What!” I exclaimed. “I guess it was not my imagination that someone was watching me all day after all. The two of you were spying on me.”

Not wanting to be known as a spy, Brixton was quick to respond, “We were not spying, just curious.”

“Did you get your question answered?” I asked.

Stanley looked down and in a low voice responded, “Not really. Seems every elf you talked to today was your favorite.”

Smiling, I paused before pointing to the couch. “Have a seat.” I then swiveled in my chair to face the two elves and continued, “If you had come to me and asked, I would have told you the answer. You see, my favorite is Ms. Claus, but she is not an elf. Honestly, I like and appreciate all the elves.”

Brixton looked up for the first time since sitting down and asked, “If that is true, why did you tell so many elves that they were the best or your favorite today?”

“I’m not sure you realize this, but all elves at the North Pole have their own qualities and skills,” I explained. “When they use them to do something for me, I appreciate that. When I thank them, I always make sure that they hear me say what makes them my favorite. For instance, who’s the best cookie baker in the entire village?”

“Doheny!” yelled the two elves without any hesitation.

“Exactly,” I responded grinning. “So today when she gave me a chocolate chip cookie straight from the oven, I could truthfully say you’re my favorite cookie baker. I want her to feel good and continue using her special skill.”

Perking up, Stanley hesitated and then asked, “Does that mean Brixton and I are your favorites for something?”

“Why of course! Brixton you are the best at stuffing the animals, and Stanley, no one is better at sewing up the back of the animals than you are. That makes you both my favorites for your special talents.”

The two elves stood up together and said, “Santa we are sorry for following you, and especially for thinking you had favorites.”

Walking them to the door, I reminded them, “The next time you want to spy on me, just ask. I’ll always tell you the truth.”

“Thanks Santa. No more spying!” With that the two elves linked arms and laughed as they made their way back to the stuffed animal workshop feeling good about their special talents.

After the elves left my office, Bernard turned and said, “You’re the best at making everyone feel special Santa.  It’s no wonder that all the children and elves love you so much!”

“Thanks Bernard, I appreciate that, but it’s not hard to compliment others as long as I see their value as children and elves.”

Notes From Santa

To read more about Sophia please check out: Ms. Claus Gets Some Help, which was posted on November 11, 2019; Sensitive Letters, which was posted on November 18, 2019; and A Little Bit of Elf Magic, which was posted on April 20, 2020;

To read more about Stanley and Brixton please check out: When Tempers Flare at the North Pole, which was posted on August 12, 2019;

To read more about Doheny please check out: With A Little Help From My Friends, which was posted on July 1, 2019; and The Great Cookie Bakeoff, which was posted on July 6, 2020;

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 

Blitzen Loses Race

“I just don’t understand,” Reiney, the Elf who takes care of Cupid said. “I know Blitzen is the fastest of all our reindeer, yet he lost the race today with Polar Pete. Do you think he will do better in the swimming competition?”

“Maybe he was not feeling well. After all, reindeer can run as fast as 50 mph, which is twice the top speed of a polar bear,” Sachi, Dasher’s caretaker said. “Besides, the races today are for practice. The official Reindeer Games take place in the fall. He has time to improve, so why are you so upset?”

As the two elves settled for a spot near the finish line, Reiney mumbled, “If Blitzen loses the swim race, I will need to do extra work around the reindeer barns.”

“Why would you have to do that,” Sachi wondered as she took her seat on the snow bank.

“When the races were announced, I started bragging to everyone about how fast Blitzen was and that Pete would have no chance,” Reiney explained.

“Okay. I’m not sure I see what the problem is,” Sachi wondered.

“Well Highstep heard me bragging in the courtyard and asked if I was confident enough to make a small wager. Knowing that any of our reindeer can run faster than a polar bear, I knew I could not lose. But Blitzen did not finish first, and now he has to swim against Polar Pete. He has to win!” Reiney exclaimed as he rubbed his hands together nervously.

When Reiney took a seat next to Sachi, she patted his arm. “Since both reindeer and polar bears swim at about 6 mph, he has a 50/50 chance,” Sachi said as the elves waited for the race to begin.

“If Blitzen wins, it’ll be a draw between him and Pete; then neither Highstep nor I would win,” Reiney explained. “He has to win!”

“Well get ready. Looks like Santa is about to signal the start of the swim.”

I blew the whistle, and both Blitzen and Pete hit the water.

For the first 50 meters Blitzen had a slight edge, but then Pete pulled just a bit ahead. Jumping up and down, Reiney began screaming, “Come on Blitzen! You can do it! Go Blitzen.”

As if Blitzen could hear Reiney, he pulled ahead of Pete by a good meter. “That’s it Blitzen! Keep it up!” Reiney continued to shout as he started poking at Sachi.

With less than ten meters remaining, Sachi stood up and shouted with Reiney.  “He’s going to do it. Blitzen is going to win!!”

When Polar Pete pulled ahead at the last minute, both elves bellowed, “Noooo! It can’t be!!”

Once the race ended, the two elves started the long walk back to the North Pole Village. Sachi put her arm around Reiney’s shoulder as he hung his head in defeat. “Don’t worry Reiney. I’ll help you.”

Entering the tunnel, I could not help but notice Reiney and Sachi. “Why the gloomy faces? Didn’t you enjoy the races today?” I called out as I walked towards them.

“Not really Santa,” Reiney responded in a disappointed voice.

“Why not?” I asked as I placed a finger under his chin and lifted it off his chest.

While Reiney just shrugged his shoulders, Sachi explained how Highstep and Reiney had made a bet.

“Come over here for a minute and sit with me,” I said pointing to a bench just outside the tunnel.

Once the three of us were settled, I asked, “Do you know why Blitzen is on my team?”

“Of course I do. He is the fastest reindeer in the stable!” Reiney exclaimed.

“True, but his speed does not help me. My team can only go as fast as the slowest reindeer, and it’s plenty fast for us to deliver all the toys on Christmas. The two of you witnessed the real reason he is on my team today.”

“Santa, I’m afraid I’m confused and don’t understand,” Reiney said as he shrugged his shoulders.

“I chose him to be on my team because of his concern for others,” I explained hoping that the two elves understood. “Blitzen knows he is the fastest, but he also knows that it cannot be fun to always lose to him. This is his way of giving others a chance to claim a victory.”

“You mean he’s showing kindness to others?” Sachi asked.

“Yes! You see,” I began, “Pete is getting older, and lately some of the younger polar bears have been trying to prove they are better and faster than he is.”

Pointing his finger at me, Reiney shook his head as if realizing there was more to winning and losing. “Do you mean Blitzen let Pete win so that he would regain confidence in himself and not feel afraid of losing to the younger bears?”

“I think you got it Reiney,” I said feeling proud of him and chuckled. “You are not the first one that Highstep has pulled this on. AS long as you learned a lesson . . .”

“I have,” Reiney broke in with a serious expression. Looking at Sachi, he continued, “I think we both learned a lot today, and if I still have to do the work, I’m okay with that.”

Sachi was quick to add, “And if he does, I want to help with the extra chores. It’s the least I can do for my friend.”

While the two elves continued to walk ahead of me, I slowed my pace. Smiling to myself, I realized that not only was a lesson learned, but a friendship was made stronger.

Notes From Santa

To read more about Sachi, Reiney, and the reindeer please check out: How Rudolph Got His Red Nose, which was posted on September 2, 2019; Dasher Becomes Part of Santa’s Team, which was posted on October 28, 2019; Reiney Meets Cupid, which was posted on February 10, 2020; Virus Threatens Santa’s Reindeer, which was posted on March 30, 2020; and, Reindeer vs Technology, which was posted on June 1, 2020;

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 . . .

Trouble Sleeping

As I walked out of the tunnel from our North Pole Village, I saw Nippy, Frosty the Snowman’s cousin. Noticing a tired look on his face, I asked, “Are you okay Nippy? You don’t look so good today. Are you not feeling well?”

Yawning and stretching his arms, Nippy explained, “Good morning Santa. Feeling fine, but I did not get much sleep. You see, when I fell asleep on a snow bank last night, bits of snow kept falling on my face.”

“That had to be annoying, but I would think you are accustomed to a snowfall, so why would that bother you?” I wondered aloud.

“You’re right. That really didn’t bother me, but the shaking ground did. Now that I think about it,” he answered nodding his head, “that’s probably what caused the snow to fall on me.”

“That makes sense, but what about the ground?” I asked. “I didn’t feel anything last night.”

“I could not tell, but I did notice the ground trembling more and more as I began walking around to find a place to sleep,” Nippy informed me.

“Like an earthquake?” I asked, needing to know.

“Yes, the ice even started spiking up into the air. Look around, Santa,” he instructed as he turned and pointed to the ice spikes around us. “A couple times they sprang up right in front of me, and I fell.”

“That’s terrible!” I exclaimed, walking over towards the icy spikes. As I examined them, they appeared older as if they had been here for a while. “That’s strange,” I muttered to myself. Turning to face Nippy, I gave him an odd look and asked, “Did you figure out what it was?”

Without answering my question Nippy continued. “In addition to the ground moving, I began to hear loud noises like thunder that rolled across the area.”

“Like thunder?” I asked knowing how rare that happens at the North Pole. “Did anyone in the village hear it?”

“I don’t know,” he admitted. “I haven’t talked to anyone except you, but I don’t see how they could have missed it. I even tried stuffing my ear flaps into my ears to lessen the noise, but that did not work.”

“Well that is strange,” I remarked. “If this is true, I wonder if we are in for a severe change in weather and need to warn everyone to stay inside till it blows over.”

As if Nippy did not hear me, he continued, “It was worse than a freight train speeding past. I just kept walking, hoping that I would eventually get away from it and be able to sleep.”

“I can understand your need to sleep,” I remarked sympathetically, “ but if these strange weather patterns continue, you and I need to warn the village, so let’s….”

Ignoring me for the third time, Nippy continued to tell his story and blurted out, “Wait a minute Santa, you haven’t heard it all. It got worse as the night went on.”

“Calm down Nippy,” I said, reaching over to pat him on the back. “I’m listening. What happened next?”

Taking a deep breath, Nippy continued, “Well after several hours of trying to get away from the shaking and noise, I decided to see if I could find what was causing it.”

As I waited for Nippy to continue, his eyes took on a strange look. “The closer I got to the noise,” he stated, “the worse it got. At one point I was walking across an ice sheet, when the quaking caused the ice to split open right under me, and I found myself in the water below it. Swimming to the edge of the ice and using my hockey stick arms, I managed to dig into the ice and pull myself out.”

“That’s horrible Nippy. I can’t imagine how terrified you must have been.” At this point, I knew that it would be necessary to send out a warning to all the villagers. “I’m worried Nippy. We need to get back to my headquarters and ….”

Paying no attention to the worry on my face, Nippy continued. “Santa, you need all the details, so I’ll be quick. Just when I thought I could not bear it anymore, I came over a snow bank and could see the source of all this trouble.” Nippy folded his hockey stick arms and stopped.

“What!” I demanded. As Nippy turned his head away from me, I thought I noticed a slight grin on his face. “This is serious. We need to know so that the villagers can be prepared if it happens again.”

“Well when I came over the bank of snow, right there at the bottom I found the source of all my troubles, a 950-pound polar bear, sound asleep.”

“A polar bear! You must be joking?”

“I would never kid you Santa. That is when I realized that Polar Pete snores! Very loudly!”

“I would have never thought Polar Pete’s snoring could . . . “ I began, as I noticed Nippy was now laughing uncontrollably.

“You should see the look on your face Santa!” Nippy exclaimed.

“You got me,” I conceded and could feel my face turning the color of my suit. “This was just another one of your funny stories wasn’t it?”

“Well Pete does snore pretty loud, but not as loud as I explained it. Once again you fell for one of my stories.”

Putting my arm around Nippy, I said, “One of these days someone is going to get you with a tall tale and then I will get to laugh.”

As the two of us made our way toward the village, I was already thinking of a tall tale I could tell him.

Notes From Santa

To read more about Nippy please check out: Santa’s Newest Friends, which was posted on July 8, 2019; Homesick Penguins, which posted on June 8, 2020

To read more about Polar Pete please check out: Wiggle and Waddle Meet Polar Pete, which was posted on July 15, 2019; A Visit From Jack Frost, which was posted on January 20, 2020; The Lost Elves, which was posted on February 3, 2020; Homesick Penguins, which was posted on June 8, 2020

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 

The Real Santa

I had just entered the hotel with some of my J.A.T.S. (Jolly Assistants To Santa) Corp for their quarterly training session. Looking around the lobby, I noticed several children staring at us. As we drifted towards our meeting room, a few of my Corps members walked over to them and got down on one knee to talk with them.

“Does that bother you?” Santa Joe asked.

“Not at all. I find it encouraging that the J.A.T.S. feel comfortable representing me, even when I’m with them.”

Wandering through the lobby, one of my helpers, Santa Stan, moved on from talking with Molly, and as she passed me, I gave a little wave, winked, and said, “Good morning.”

“You’re not the real Santa,” she responded with a confident voice.

I heard Joe gasp, having never heard anyone say that to me before. “I’m not? How do you know?”

“I just talked with the real Santa. He told me he was the real one, so you can’t be.”

“You’re really lucky to have met him. I hope you gave him a big hug.”

In a now excited voice the little girl responded, “I did, and he told me I was on the nice list!”

“I’m glad to hear that!”

As we continued to walk through the lobby towards the meeting room, I saw a young mother bend over to talk with her son. “Nolan, there is someone else who looks like Santa,” she said pointing towards me. “Why don’t you go ask if he is the real one?”

Before Nolan could answer his mother, I approached him and held out my hand. “And how are you today young man?”

“I’m good,” he responded with a little hesitation in his voice.

“You sound like you are not too sure about that. Is there anything I can help you with?”

“Well…. I was wondering …. Which one of you is the real Santa?”

Gazing around the lobby at all the J.A.T.S., I turned back and nodded. “That’s a tough one. Which one do you think he is?”

“Is it that one?” he asked pointing to Santa Lou, wearing a bright shirt with Santas and reindeer printed on it and a pair of red shorts.

“You have a good eye. Would you like to meet him and say hello?”

“You bet!” Nolan cried out.

Taking Nolan’s hand, we walked over to Santa Lou.  “Santa, this little boy would like to say hi to you,” I said. As Santa Lou turned around, he smiled at Nolan. After the two began to talk, I turned and walked away.

Once we were far enough away, Santa Joe said, “I don’t understand Santa. You let the little girl complain that you are not the real Santa; then you let the little boy choose one of your Corp members as the real Santa. “Why didn’t you just tell them the truth?”

“Confused?” As Joe nodded, I grinned. “Though we’ll cover this later in the workshop, I’ll give you a shorter version. Since many pictures and drawings of me exist and none of them are 100% accurate, everyone has an idea of what Santa should look like. It may have come from books or movies, or maybe a Santa they saw once. So I decided a long time ago to let children use their imaginations and create their own version of me.”

“But if you told him you were the real Santa, then he would know what you really look like.”

“And destroy all those wonderful images and memories he carries in his head, not a chance!  I think it is better to just let them believe in the Santa they think is real. However, there’s one thing I want all remember.”

“What would that be, Santa?” Joe asked.

“No Santa should ever tell a child he is the Real Santa,” I sternly reminded him. “Though I think you understand why I do not admit it, I need all J.A.T.S members to realize why saying who the real Santa is can lead to problems.”

With a puzzled look, Santa Joe asked, “What problems?”

“It will lead to the children asking questions they will not be able to answer. And that can lead children to think that Santa may have lied to them.”

Though Santa Joe nodded in agreement, he still wore a confused look on his face. “OK, I get that, but I still don’t understand why you didn’t call Molly and Nolan by their names when you met them.”

“Well that’s easy,” I responded giving Joe a playful look. “Since they might already have a Santa they believe to be the real one, why would I want to spoil that? As I said earlier, I like children to create their own version of me in their minds.”

Shaking his head, Joe laughed.  “I never thought about all these things. Each time we meet like this, I learn more about how I should act when standing in for you.”

As Joe and I headed toward the meeting room, he stopped and added, “I appreciate the time you give to train me and the others. It is an honor to be part of J.A.T.S. and play Santa.”

“Thanks Joe,” I remarked putting my arm around his shoulders, “but don’t forget, when you play Santa, you also honor the spirit of Christmas, and to me that’s most important.”

Notes From Santa

To read more about J.A.T.S. please check out: Santa’s Summer Exploration posted on August 5, 2019; J.A.T.S. Training posted on March 2, 2020; and The White Feather posted on May 18, 2020;

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 . . .

Healing Hurt Feelings

Approaching her office in the mailroom, Ms. Claus noticed someone hidden by the shadows in the corner of the hallway. “Can I help you?” she asked.

“Yes Ms. Claus you can, if you have time?”

“Temperance, is that you?”

“Yes ma’am,” the elf responded as she moved into the light.

“I definitely didn’t expect you here at this time of day,” Ms. Claus responded grinning. “Usually you’re helping other elves solve their differences. What brings you to my office?”

Unsure how to reply, Temperance dropped her eyes. “That’s just it Ms. Claus, I don’t think I can do that anymore.”

“What!” exclaimed Ms. Claus. “Your skills at listening and resolving problems have made the North Pole a better place. Why do you want to stop?” About to say more, Ms. Claus noticed the painful look on the elf’s face and knew something was very wrong. “Tempe, would you like to talk about it over some tea in my study where it’ll be more private?”

“Thanks Ms. Claus, that would be great,” Temperance replied trying to smile.

Slipping an arm around Tempe, Ms. Claus gave her a hug as they proceeded toward the study. “Seems like you are carrying quite a burden today, so let’s see what we can do to lessen it. Maybe we should invite Santa to join us.”

Temperance stopped and gave Ms. Claus a tearful look. “No, just you. I don’t want to disappoint Santa.”

“I see,” Ms. Claus whispered as they arrived at her study. Opening the door, they both entered. “Make yourself comfortable Tempe while I make us some tea.”

Once brewed, Ms. Claus poured two mugs of steaming tea, set them on the table, and then placed the teapot on a hot plate. “To be honest with you Tempe, I can’t imagine what is so horrible that you want to give up?” Settling into her chair, Ms. Claus wrapped her hands around the mug and waited.

Unsure, Temperance began asking questions. “Do you and Santa ever have disagreements? When you try to settle them, do you quarrel with each other? Did you ever have someone talk behind your back and then …”

“Slow down Temperance,” Ms. Claus said, “one question at a time.”

“Sorry Ms. Claus, I am so frustrated and sad that I don’t know where to start,” the elf cried as tears began to trickle down her cheek.

Reaching over to pat Temperance’s arm, Ms. Claus suggested she take a breath while she attempted to answer her questions. “Yes, Santa and I do squabble with one another on occasion, but we try…”

“You do?” the elf blurted aloud, breaking Ms. Claus’s response. “But you always appear ….”

“Relax, Tempe, and let me finish. I was about to say, that we always try to settle our differences. When we can’t, we agree to think about what each other said and come back later to talk some more. And we definitely avoid talking behind a person’s back. If we have a problem with someone, we try to talk it out directly with them. Now what’s really bothering you Tempe?”

Pausing, Ms. Claus waited and then prodded Temperance to continue. “Tell me what happened so that I can help you,” she urged.

After wiping her tears away, Temperance took a sip of tea. Looking at Ms. Claus, she apologized and began her story. “Cocoa and Toto were arguing two days ago while making dolls. Patches, who manages the Doll Workshop, called me to help her two best workers settle their differences.”

“When I arrived, both of them were saying awful things about one another. Patches had to step in between them when they began to shove each other. She led them to her office, and I followed. When we arrived, she told them, ‘We are not leaving this office till you settle your differences. Since both of you trust Temperance, I invited her to help.’”

“And did you?” asked Ms. Claus.

“I thought I did. They thanked me and we all hugged each other before they left,” explained Temperance. “But then today while I was in the restroom by the Doll Workshop, I overheard them complaining about how I was always called in to fix arguments when it’s really none of my business.”

“Well that wasn’t nice at all,” remarked Ms. Claus, shaking her head, “especially since Patches called you in to help them.”

“That’s not all,” continued Temperance sadly. “They began to criticize what I said to them and even made fun of the way I talked and acted. I was shocked and hurt, so I stayed in the stall till they left. I came to see you because I didn’t know what else to do. If the elves truly feel that way, then how can I help them settle their differences? I don’t want to be a go-between anymore.” Unable to control her feelings, Temperance began to sob. “I just wanted to help, not hurt anyone.”

Knowing that it was best for Temperance to cry herself out, Ms. Claus paused and refilled her mug. Getting up from her chair, she sat next to the elf and slipped an arm around her. As the elf snuggled against Ms. Claus, the tears began to lessen.

“I’m sorry Ms. Claus,” she whispered after blowing her nose and wiping her eyes. “I must look a mess. I guess I just needed a good cry.” Sitting straight, Tempe brushed her hair away from her face and looked at Ms. Claus. “You must think me silly and immature.”

“Not at all,” replied Ms. Claus as she returned to her chair. “When our feelings are hurt, sometimes we just need to cry. So tell me Tempe, how can I help?”

“Do you think all the elves see me the way Cocoa and Toto do?”

“If you are worried,” Ms. Claus explained, “then maybe you shouldn’t be a go-between.”

Shocked, Temperance leaned over the arm of the sofa and stared at Ms. Claus. “Do you really believe that?”

“Not really, but if that’s how you feel, then maybe you need to think twice about helping others. After all,” continued Ms. Claus as she watched the elf’s face change, “it’s hard to deal with people or elves who are mad. Many times, they will say things during or after a quarrel that they really do not mean. In this case, I think they both picked on you as a way to let off steam. They might have also been embarrassed about how they acted. It’s much easier to criticize someone else than accept that you were acting badly. Unfortunately, you overheard them. Now you don’t know what to do and are starting to doubt yourself.”

“I guess,” mumbled Temperance. Unsure, she picked up her mug and began to sip the tea. “But I thought I was helping,” she said suddenly, “but maybe I wasn’t or they took it the wrong way.”

“That’s a possibility. Maybe they did not realize you were just trying to help them.” Reaching over the arm of her chair, Ms. Claus took Tempe’s hand and added, “You know you have to settle this, and facing them is the solution. Of course, since it involves yourself, it will be a challenge, and yes, your feelings may get hurt again, but Tempe you know what to do.”

Smiling Temperance said, “I know,” and reached over to give Ms. Claus a hug. As the elf stood up, she turned and smiled. “Thanks for putting up with my tears and sadness. I see why you and Santa get along. You don’t give up and you try to listen to one another.” With that said, Temperance quickly headed for the door.

“Good luck!”

“I think I got this. Love you,” she cried, giving Ms. Claus a wink and closing the door behind her.

Notes From Santa

To read more about Temperance please check out: When Tempers Flare At The North Pole, which was posted on August 12, 2019;

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 

A COVID Christmas

“You look a little troubled today Santa,” Ms. Claus said as we sat in our favorite chairs in front of the fire.

“I am Anya. I’ve been thinking a lot about things today.”

“Would you like to talk about it?”

“I would, thanks,” I replied. Settling into my seat while sipping cocoa, I continued. “Well you know how everyone is suffering in some way or another over the pandemic.”

“Yes, that is horrible. But we have seen the world recover from things like this before, and I’m sure that it will again.”

“I could not agree more, but my concern is this Christmas. With the Spanish Flu in 1918, the pandemic was beginning to go away by the time the Christmas season started. And back then there were not as many children who wanted to visit with me.”

“But you still visited with them. As I remember, everyone wore masks to protect each other.”

“They did, and I also wore a mask when visiting. But I fear it is more difficult today.”

“Why is that?” Anya asked as she pulled a blanket over her legs.

“People are contagious for a longer period of time before they show symptoms, and some people have it and never show any symptoms. So, more precautions are needed to keep from spreading it to others.”

“Are you worried a mask will not be enough this time?”

Getting up from my chair, I walked toward the fireplace and placed a log on the fire. Turning to face Anya, I nodded. “Yes I am. Since there is no cure or vaccine yet, the last thing I want to happen is for me to carry the virus to children or their parents. But I also do not want to disappoint all the children who look forward to talking with me, either.”

“But how could you give it to someone, if you don’t have the virus?” Anya wondered.

“If someone who has it sits with me, they could leave traces of the virus behind on my suit for my next visitor.”

“That won’t work,” Ms. Claus replied shaking her head. “Maybe you could have a stool or chair for them to sit next to you instead of them sitting on your lap,” she suggested.

“That is a good idea. It would certainly keep the virus off my suit.” As I returned to my chair, I picked up my cup of cocoa, and took a sip. “But,” I continued, “having a piece of clear plexiglass between me and the children, just like the store clerks have, might work even better.”

Anya poured herself more tea as she asked, “How do you think the children will react to you being in a mask or behind a piece of plastic?”

“I think children are more accepting of the precautions than some adults are. During the last pandemic, they all thought it was pretty cool to be wearing a mask. Some of the boys pretended to be cowboys, and the little girls pretended to be nurses.”

With a little chuckle in her voice, Anya responded, “Good for the girls for wanting to be like those who can help.” After a slight pause, she continued, “Is there anything else you might be able to do for your visits?”

“Quinten, the elf in charge of research and development, is trying to convince me to work from home by doing Virtual Visits from right here at the North Pole.”

“Virtual Visits? How would that work?”

“He thinks I should talk with them over the Internet. There are several programs that allow you to have a video chat with someone these days.”

“That does not sound like something you would like,” Anya stated as she offered me half of her cookie.

I took the cookie before Anya could change her mind. “I’d much rather meet in person, but Quinten made some good points.”

“What did he say?”

“First, since I could do the visits from here, I could actually see more children than I usually do. But it was the second part that has me giving this serious consideration. Quinten said that by doing Virtual Visits, parents who are serving in the military, could be in on the call with their children.”

“That would be really great!” Anya exclaimed sitting up in her chair. “I bet grandparents who do not live in the same area as their grandchildren would love to be in on the Virtual Visit as well.”

“I didn’t think of that, but you are right. I bet the grandparents would love to watch the children interact with me.” Feeling like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders, I continued, “I feel much better now that we talked this out Anya.”

“It always helps to discuss something with others, Santa. Sharing ideas clears the air.”

“It’s settled then. Any in-person visits will be in masks or behind plexiglass to make sure no one is passing on the virus to anyone else, and if the parents do not like that idea, they can set up a Virtual Visit with me and the children and we can talk on line. I think families will appreciate having more than one option.”

After finishing my cookie and cocoa, I got up and started heading towards the door when Ms. Claus asked, “Where are you going?”

“Now that we have this settled, I need to get with Faer, my elf in charge of the J.A.T.S. (Jolly Assistants To Santa) Corps, so we can start training all of them in how this Christmas will be handled.”

“Always planning ahead,” Anya stated, standing up to give me a kiss. “I think I’ll do some of my own and design Christmas masks for you and the J.A.T.S. It’s definitely going to be a unique Christmas.”

Notes From Santa

To read more about the J.A.T.S. Corps please check out Santa’s Summer Explorations posted on August 5, 2019; and Santa’s Christmas Visits, which was posted on October 21, 2019; and JATS Training, which posted on March 3, 2020

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 . . .

Amusement Park Adventure

Hoping that no one would recognize the elves, Anya, or me, we entered Cedar Point Amusement Park ready for some fun.

“Where should we go first?” Needler asked looking around at all the rides.

“I’m hungry,” Clunker informed everyone. “Let’s go get something to eat.”

“We just got here,” I responded. “Besides I brought you here as a reward to have some fun, not eat. Let’s start with the tallest and fasted coaster they have.”

Pointing up to a steel blue and white coaster, Fizzlepop said, “That would be Millennium Force. It is 310 feet high and hits speeds of 93 mph.”

“But I want to go on Maverick first!” Parlor exclaimed.

Not wanting to be overlooked, Patches jumped in saying, “Steel Vengeance is where I want to go.”

“I’m not sure I am up for that,” laughed Ms. Claus

“Why don’t we break up into groups then,” I suggested. “Those who want to ride coasters will choose which ones and who to ride with; those who want to enjoy the park at a slower pace will go with Ms. Claus. Be sure to keep your Elf Communicators on so we can keep in touch during the day.”

The elves nodded and began to go in different directions. I decided to join the group heading to Maverick. As we approached the ride, Clunker spotted a Panda Express and blurted out, “I’m getting something to eat. I’ll catch up with all of you later. Before we could respond, he was off and running.

As we waited in line, I asked Parlor, “Are you excited about riding your first big coaster?”

With her smile stretching from ear to ear she responded, “You bet. I can’t wait!”

I buckled myself into the car, and turned towards Parlor to see her excited face, when we were suddenly shot up and over the top of the first hill. Coming down at a 95-degree angle, I heard Parlor’s screams. Then we went through several corkscrew and horseshoe rolls.

When we entered a dark tunnel the ride finally slowed down. As I was about to say something to Woody, who was next to me, we were shot out of the tunnel at 70 mph!

Though Maverick seemed to go on forever, it ended two and a-half minutes later. “What an experience,” I exclaimed looking at Woody. “But I’m not sure this was a good choice for Parlor’s first big coaster,” I quickly remarked noticing the scared reaction on her face.

Exiting the ride, I could see her broad smile had been replaced by a frown. “So how did you like it?”

Not wanting to admit anything, she simply said, “It was really fast and had a lot of twists.”

“You want to try another one or would you rather join the group doing non-coaster rides?” I asked.

“I think I want to join Ms. Claus,” she responded with appreciation.

On the way to meet the other group, we ran into Wheelie, who did not look happy. “How’s it going?” I asked.

“They won’t let me ride any coasters. Apparently, I’m an inch too short! Seven hundred and twenty-one years old and an inch is going to keep me from riding a roller coaster,” he responded throwing his hands up in the air.

“There is still plenty more to do than just coasters. Next time maybe you can put something in your shoes to make you appear to be taller,” I said trying to comfort Wheelie.

Seeing Ms. Claus in the distance, I waved. Walking towards us, she smiled. “How was Maverick?”

Before I could answer, Blanch and Woody exclaimed, “Awesome!!

“But I’m not sure Parlor enjoyed it,” I explained.

Nodding in agreement, she looked at Anya. “Can I go with your group?”

“Absolutely!” Looking at Blanche, Wheelie, and Sledge, she asked, “What about you guys?”

“We’d like to join you and leave the big coasters to Santa, Woody, Fizzlepop, Triandal, and Patches.”

“Now that we settled who is going with each group,” Woody remarked anxiously, “let’s go ride the Millennium Force!”

As Anya and her group moved on, I led the rest toward the Millennium Force. Running into Clunker, I hooked my arm through his and pulled him in our direction. “We are heading to the tall blue coaster; would you like to join us?”

“I’d love to, but I heard that Hugo’s has really good pizza and bread sticks, and I need to get some before they are sold out.”

Rolling my eyes, I had to laugh at Clunker. “Well I would not want to get in the way of you eating!”

As he left and made his way toward Hugo’s, the rest of the elves and I continued toward the Millennium Force and waited in line. Reaching the front, Woody, the others, and I slipped into our seats. Grabbing the seat belt to prepare for the ride, I pulled it as hard as I could, but I couldn’t get it buckled.

As I looked around and watched everyone pull down their lap bars, I heard Woody yell, “Come on Santa, you need to buckle up.”

“I’m trying!” I responded as a young man came up to assist me.

“Can you put your hands up so I can buckle you in?” he asked. After several attempts, he finally said, “I’m afraid you will not be able to ride today.”

Reluctant and embarrassed I got up, and looking at the others said, “Enjoy your ride!” and walked down the exit ramp.

Though disappointed, I waited for the others to get off the ride. When the elves walked through the exit, grinning from ear to ear, I asked, “How was it?”.

“FANTASTIC!” Woody exclaimed. “You need to lose some weight and come back so that you can ride it.”

“We’ll see,” I remarked, “but for now let’s take in as many rides as we can. We still have several hours before we have to leave.”

Later, as we exited Valravn, I was feeling hot and tired. Realizing what time it was, I messaged everyone on my Elf Communicator.

It’s getting late and the park will be closing soon. Let’s all meet by the antique cars at six o’clock

As everyone began to arrive, I noticed that everyone was showing signs of fatigue from the heat of the day, except for Patches and Fizzlepop who said, “Do we have to go? We still want to ride the Gatekeeper and the Top Thrill Dragster!”

Anya was quick to respond, “I think this heat is getting to us. How about riding Thunder Canyon to cool off? Then, I think we should stop for some ice cream after we leave.”

The elves smiled. The idea of getting wet on the raft ride through a white-water canyon got most of the group excited. As they headed off to get in line, I said “I think Fizzlepop, Blanch and I will stay dry and watch all of you get soaked.”

Observing from a deck above the white-water canyon, we waited as their raft approached. While Blanch aimed her camera, the raft spun left, allowing a waterfall to drench Woody, but since waterfalls flowed on both sides, no one remained dry.  Exiting the ride, dripping wet and smiling broadly, Parlor exclaimed, “That was the best way to end a long hot day!”

As we headed towards the park’s exit, I heard Clunker say, “The best part is yet to come.”

“How can that be?” Wheelie asked. “We’re leaving and there will not be any more rides.”

“You’re right, no more rides, but there will be ice cream!”

Anya and I laughed. “It’s always about food with him,” I stated as the small band of elves described their favorite rides while walking toward the exit.

Giving my hand a quick squeeze, Anya remarked, “True, but it’s more about them experiencing an amusement park and seeing how children and their parents enjoy rides. Who knows, maybe this will inspire some of them to create toys families can enjoy together.”

“I like your thinking Anya,” I exclaimed. “Taking toy-making to a whole new level will be a challenge, but the elves always get creative after new experiences like this.” As I slipped my arm around her shoulders and gave her a hug, we exited the park knowing that the fun of Christmas would begin soon.

Notes From Santa

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 . . .

In The Beginning

Sitting at our weekly production meeting, with the elves in charge of each workshop, my thoughts kept drifting off. “Sorry Bernard, you were saying?”

“Is something bothering you Santa?” Bernard asked. “You seem to be someplace else today.”

“Talking about all the different toys and how many we need these days, got me thinking about how it all started. It was much simpler then,” I remarked shaking my head.

“You did all the work back then. How could that have been easier?” questioned Patches, head of the Doll Workshop.

“First of all, I was twelve when I first started giving gifts, so I had much more energy. But more importantly, I did not deliver toys to the entire world like I do now. Actually, I did not start delivering toys until much later.”

Confused, Clunker, manager of the Car and Truck Workshop, wondered aloud, “But if you didn’t give toys, what did you give the children?”

“Back then many people struggled to provide their families with a place to live and to put food on their tables. Having inherited a small fortune from my parents when they passed away three years earlier, I began to feel guilty.”

“I’m not sure why you would feel guilty for inheriting money from your family,” Patches stated as she looked around the table at the other elves who nodded in agreement.

“Seeing people walking around in old, dirty clothes while I wore nice, clean clothing made me feel uncomfortable. In addition, most families struggled to find food while I was eating three good meals a day.”

Sitting up suddenly in her seat, Needler, head of the Costume Workshop, understood my explanation. “So you saw their needs and started giving clothes and food to those families instead of toys.”

Smiling at the elf, I nodded in agreement adding, “True, but it wasn’t that easy. You see, back then, people were very proud and did not like accepting charity. I could not just give things to them. Instead, I would go out after midnight, sneak into homes in my home town of Patara, and leave money for those in need.”

Watching as the elves began talking among themselves, I heard Patches remark, “I thought you always gave things to children.”

“I did and still do, but it was different,” I explained. “Back then, I would always leave the money in the children’s stockings, that way the parents did not feel ashamed of accepting charity. Though things went smoothly for several months, I soon ran into a problem.””

Clunker shook his shoulders and gave me a strange look. “How could giving away money for food and clothing cause a problem?”

“When word spread of someone mysteriously leaving money for families,” I said, “the greedy people in town began staying up all night in an attempt to catch me, hoping that I would give money to them.”

“That’s unfair! They didn’t need it,” exclaimed Patches stamping her foot. “So how did you outsmart them and get into the houses without people seeing you?”

“I had to change my plan. Instead of going to the cottages in my home town, I traveled to nearby Myra and left gifts there, until the same thing happened. As time went on, I had to travel to many different towns in order not to be discovered.”

All the elves were now leaning forward around the table so they would not miss any details. “That must have been tiring to travel so far without your sleigh,” Needler remarked before the other elves had a chance. “What did you do?”

“The generosity of others took over. As word spread of the mysterious gifts, others decided to do the same thing. I was pleased to see the kindness of others” I said rubbing my hands together, “but then another form of greed showed up, and I again had to change my gift giving.”

Holding the palms of her hands up with a quizzical look on her face Needler asked, “What was that Santa?”

“I began to notice that some of the parents were a bit greedy as well. While the well-being of the children was my primary concern, some parents decided to use the money I left for their own selfish reasons. That’s when I stopped giving money and started finding out what the children really needed, leaving those items next to the their beds instead of money. Seems that idea caught on even among my copy cats.”

“Didn’t that bother you?” Clunker began. “I wouldn’t like it.”

“Not in the least. It was never about me getting the credit; it was always about taking care of the children. With all the others doing the same thing, it meant I could expand into other cities.”

As Bernard nodded his head, remembering the old story, he spoke up. “That’s where the elves and fairy magic came into play. In order for Santa to deliver presents to more and more children, he required our help building the toys and other gifts. He also needed the magic of the Snow Fairies dust to get to homes all over the world.”

Clapping my hands together, I exclaimed, “That’s right! But the others did not stop giving their gifts either. It’s funny how things worked out though.”

With all the elves looking a bit confused, I continued, “These days parents like to add other presents to the ones I bring and do not tell the children. When they wake up and find all the presents, they believe all of them came from me, when in fact only some are from me and the others are from their parents.”

“That must make it even more rewarding for you,” Clunker stated.

“It is. Knowing how people give to others is rewarding. You see, many parents and adults do not stop with the extra presents for children. Just like in the old days, they give of themselves and donate clothes, toys, food, and other items to those in need.”

Watching the elves smile and nod their heads in agreement, I added. “Christmas is really about giving. My hope is that children will learn from the actions of their parents and give to those in need. Then as they grow into caring grownups, the world will become a kinder place to live.”

Notes From Santa

To read more about Snow Fairies please check out: Lost Fairy Dust, which was posted on May 11, 2020; and Meeting Queen Gwendolen, which was posted on May 25, 2020

To read more about Elves please check out: The Story of Elves, which was posted on May 4, 2020;

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 from Hill Sheperd