Toy Shortage

Sitting on the couch in my office, Ms. Claus waited patiently as I organized my files for our weekly production meeting. Hearing loud voices coming from the conference room, Anya and I gave one another a worried look. “The elves are upset over something. We better go.”

“I’m ready,” Anya said and we headed into the meeting.

As we entered, I was shocked to see many of our workshop supervisors and managers pointing fingers at each other. “Oh my stars, what’s going on here?”

After a brief moment of silence, several of the elves continued to shout at each other. Raising my hand to quiet everyone, I asked, “Bernard, what’s going on?”

As Bernard began, Ms. Claus and I took our seats.  “Well Santa,” he stated, “it’s only one thing. All of us are worried that we won’t have enough materials to make the toys needed for the children this year.”

The elves nodded in agreement; some even folded their arms on their chests. “I’ve been watching this situation closely,” I remarked, “and you are right. We are facing a shortage of materials for the first time in North Pole history. Ms. Claus and I believe, however, that we have a solution.”

“Is this because of the pandemic?” Frolik, the elf in charge of the Sports and Outdoor Activity Workshop, asked.

“I’m afraid so. I was talking with some of our suppliers yesterday and they told me that many people are still afraid of returning to work,” I explained, “even though most companies are doing what they can to make it as safe as possible.”

“Just get vaccinated or wear a mask when around people, like we do, and it’ll be fine, right Santa?” Patches asked.

Grinning at my supervisor for the Doll and Dollhouse Workshop I replied. “If only it was that simple, but it isn’t. Recently I discussed this with two of our suppliers, and they explained that the bigger obstacle seems to be the shortage of truck drivers to move their products. Even the commercial toy makers are having the same problem.”

“What are we supposed to do then?” Bernard demanded as he looked around at all the other elves.

“As I said earlier, Ms. Claus and I do have a plan. First, all of you must send Bernard a report estimating how many of the toys, clothes, and shoes, you think you can make given the supplies we have or know we can get. Then Ms. Claus, Booker, and Sophia will examine the Nice List for those who are in need.”

“So, you’re going old school?” Hobbs from Arts and Crafts inquired.

“I guess you can say that,” I said, nodding in agreement. “Children in need should be our priority.”

“Santa, I’m not sure I understand,” Patches stated as many of the elves shook their heads in confusion.

“Well back in the first century when I began, I only gave gifts to families who had very little. They received things like food, clothes, and shoes. I have followed that idea since then.”

Woody, the manager of the Wooden Toy Workshop, raised his hand and questioned, “Are you saying we should ignore the children on the Nice List unless they have a need?”

“Not at all. I’m saying those in need should have priority for things we can make that will help them. Yet we will still give the children on the Nice List something. It just might not be everything they wanted.”

While the elves commented loudly, Anya stood and waited till everyone in the room grew quiet. “Remember,” she announced, “parents often add things under the tree that are not from Santa, but let the children think they are from him. Although,” she added, “they may have the same problem finding toys as we have finding supplies.”

“As always, you hit the mark!” I exclaimed as Ms. Claus returned to her seat.” I think we should make sure the materials we can get go to clothes and shoes, as well as toys that have some value in helping children learn.”

Parlor raised both hands, and without waiting suggested, “So games would make great gifts this year! After all, if the boys and girls are not receiving as many gifts this year, maybe a good board or card game could bring the families closer together on Christmas by giving them a reason to sit down and enjoy each other’s company while playing.”

Smiling at my Board and Card Games Workshop manager, I exclaimed, “Parlor, I could not agree more! I believe educating families about the true nature of the toy shortage as well as how they can turn what appears to be a bad thing into a good thing will be necessary.”

“I have a better idea,” Anya began as she looked at each of the 17 elves sitting at the table. “Let’s not worry about helping parents understand what the material or toy shortage will do to Christmas. Instead, I propose we spend our time helping everyone return to the true meaning of Christmas!”

Every single elf, including myself, stood and applauded. As the room returned to silence, I whispered into Anya’s ear, “Love the way you think,” and kissed her cheek. “Brilliant!” I announced turning to face all my managers and supervisors. “Reminding children that it is not about what or how much you get on Christmas, but what you can do or give to someone else will make a difference in bringing peace and comfort to this crazy world.”

“Love. That’s what it’s all about,” Ms. Claus declared, giving my hand a squeeze. “Let’s teach everyone to care for each other and help those who are less fortunate. Once they realize how good the act of giving makes them feel, I don’t think they will stop,” she finished.

Standing I announced, “Okay, I think we have a plan to deal with this shortage. We have less than three months to pull this all together.” After all the supervising elves left the conference room, I turned to Anya and gave her a hug. “This may turn out to be one of the best Christmases ever!”

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 . . .

To read more about Gift Giving please check out:

Toys For Santa – December 9, 2019
The Art of Gift Giving – January 13, 2020
In the Beginning – July 20, 2020
Random Acts of Kindness – September 20, 2021

To read more about the 2021 Toy Shortage  please check out:

CNN Business – August 29, 2021 
Newsweek – September 17, 2021 

Find Cincy Santa (@CincySanta) on:

Facebook – Twitter – Instagram

Illustration by Dave Granlund  

Random Act of Kindness

As I pushed my chair away from my desk and stood, Bernard knocked on my open door. “Do you have a few minutes, Santa?”

“Is it important? Ms. Claus just called and wanted to show me something in the mailroom.”

“I was going to give you some updates, but they can wait until our meeting tomorrow.” Bernard turned to leave, then stopped. Looking back, he smiled. “Don’t keep your wife waiting.”

Giving him a thumbs up as he left, I followed and headed in a different direction. When I entered the mailroom to a chorus of “Morning Santa,” I saw Anya waving for me to come over to her desk.

“What is so important?” I asked sitting in the chair in front of her desk.

“This letter came in last night and when I read it, I knew you would want to see its contents right away. Eight-year-old Madison from Louisville has an interesting story to share.”

“She is a sweet girl. Usually, I receive her letter in November. Has she decided what she wants already?”

“You should just read this,” Ms. Claus insisted, holding the letter for me to take.

Nodding, I unfolded the letter and began reading:

Random Acts of Kindness

Overcome by Madison’s action, I paused and after handing the letter back to Anya, I remarked, “Looks like Madison has found the true joy of gift giving. I talk to children about doing things for their family and friends, but Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) is a different level of gift giving.”

“Doing something kind for another creates such a wonderful mood,” Anya explained, placing the letter on her desk, “because it does not stop with the receiver and giver feeling good about that moment.”

“You are so right!” I stroked my beard as I thought, and continued. “Just last year, Ms. Fox, a second grade teacher at one of the schools I visited, was actually teaching RAK in her classes.”

Anya picked up her cup of tea and commented, “I didn’t know kindness was being taught in school.”

“I didn’t either, but apparently she uses lesson plans you can get from the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation. She also told me about Kindness Counts, a book she likes to read with her class at the beginning of each school year.”

“A book about kindness?” Anya questioned then took a sip of her tea.

“It’s a story about a complete stranger who unexpectedly pays for a child’s ice cream. That leads to a family discussion about random acts of kindness. Since the young boy is so impressed by the action, he tries being kind to strangers himself. But when his dad wants to donate the boy’s old toys, including an awesome superhero sword, his generosity is put to a huge test. Can he be kind when it demands sacrifice or just when it’s convenient?”

“What a hard decision for a child to make,” Ms. Claus pondered aloud.

“That’s a hard one even for an adult, let alone a child. Ms. Fox told me that they spend a lot of time talking about the book and what her students would do.”

“I wonder how much of a difference her efforts are making?” Anya asked.

“Ms. Fox invited me to meet her students last year before they went home for Christmas break. When I arrived, I got the usual children screaming “SANTA!” Looking around the room I saw many of the children had turned back to what they were doing when I arrived.”

“They ignored you?”

“At first that’s what I thought, but when I looked closer, one boy was helping a classmate tie his shoes; another little girl was helping her friend clean up a spilled drink; and two more were busy picking up a pile of Lego’s and putting them in a box. Amazed at the respect these young students had for each other and their teacher, I said something to Ms. Fox. She informed me, ‘This is the second year I have taught kindness in the class, and the results have been the same each time.’”

“When I asked her what she meant, Ms. Fox continued, ‘I have found the children to be more kind and caring not only in the classroom, but also in the halls, cafeteria, and playground. They also seem to trust one another more than before I included the lessons.’”

Holding her cup with both hands, Ms. Claus leaned back in her chair, and asked, “Do you think doing random acts of kindness will have a long-term effect on the children?”

“I wondered that as well, and asked the teacher.”

When I reached for a cookie Anya had on her desk, she lightly slapped my hand chuckling, “That’s my cookie, but I’ll let you have it if you tell me what Ms. Fox said.”

I smiled as I took the cookie and sat back in my chair. “She said ‘I’m not the only teacher doing this at our school, and what we have noticed is that the boys are more aware of their actions and making better decisions, while the girls have become more confident and have increased their social awareness.’”

When I finished, Anya put her tea cup down and mused, “So doing something kind for random people has long term effects as well as the immediate gratification. That’s how it spreads! Standing, she turned to look in my direction and added, “I think you need to talk to children about doing more random acts of kindness for strangers in addition to things to make their family and friends happy.”

“Could not agree more!” I exclaimed while getting up to leave. “But right now, I need to respond to Madison and let her know how proud I am of her, and that I will do something nice for her Flower Bandit.”

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 . . .

To see story about the Louisville Flower Bandit please check out:

The Louisville Flower Bandit – September 3, 2021 

To read more about Random Acts of Kindness please check out:

Random Acts of Kindness Foundation
Kindness Counts: A Story Teaching Random Acts of Kindness by Bryan Smith – ISBN-13: 9781944882013

Find Cincy Santa (@CincySanta) on:

Facebook – Twitter – Instagram 

Illustration from The Functional Home

Flight Interference

I guided the reindeer, Olive and Cletus, to an area just outside the Sleigh Barn, where Highstep, the elf in charge, and the sleigh manager, Sledge, were waiting for Ms. Claus and me. Once Anya’s sleigh, the Dulcet, was safely on the ground, the elves approached and Highstep asked, “How was your trip?”

“Thank you for asking. We enjoyed our visit with some of the J. A.T. S. (Jolly Assistants to Santa) in Ohio,” Ms. Claus responded as Sledge helped her climb down from the sleigh. “Santa, however, had a few issues while driving the sleigh.”

Highstep and Sledge exchanged quizzical looks, and Highstep asked “What issues?”

Seeing the concern on the elves’ faces, I motioned for the them to follow me around to the back where I pointed to a dent in the sleigh.

“What happened here?” Sledge asked as he ran his hand over the dimpled area to consider the damage.

“Do you know how popular those drones have become with the children in recent years?” After Highstep and Sledge nodded, I continued. “Well, it seems that either I’m going to have to fly higher, or we are going to have to control how high they can fly.”

“The whole experience was frightening!” Anya exclaimed shaking her head. “If Santa had not turned to the side at the last minute, I’m sure one of the reindeer or us would have been hit.” She then turned to me and sternly added, “Don’t forget your promise to talk with Avitor about those flying hazards.”

“Believe me, I won’t,” I responded. Then turning to Highstep, I waved for him to follow me. As I approached Cletus, I patted him on his back. “You may want to get Vetter to come over and check him out.”

As Highstep examined Cletus, he asked, “What’s wrong? He looks just fine to me.”

“Not only did we have trouble with drones, but a laser got Cletus,” I explained. “Some of my J.A.T.S. told me and Ms. Claus stories about how some people shine those lasers at airplanes, temporarily blinding the pilots.”

“I’ve heard about that as well, but . . .” Sledge began.

“Thankfully,” Anya interrupted, “Olive was able to keep us going safely until Cletus could recover. I don’t know why children think doing that is fun.”

I put my right arm around Anya’s shoulder and gave her a little squeeze. “I’m not sure why teenagers or young adults do it, but as to the younger children, they may not be capable of thinking ahead to understand the consequences of their actions.”

“I bet many of them are just copying what they see older people do,” Highstep suggested as he began unhitching the reindeer.

“You may be right,” I responded, “but whether someone showed them or if they are testing how far they can fly their drones or point their lasers, they must understand the risks and stop doing it.”

Sledge leaned up against Anya’s sleigh, and remarked, “Remember when birds caused a pilot to land his plane in the Hudson River a few years ago? They were lucky! Blinding a pilot with a laser or flying a drone into an aircraft could be much worse.”

Ms. Claus reached into the sleigh to grab her blanket. “Why would a child even have a laser? After all they are meant to be used by teachers and instructors.”

“How they get it is less important than their parents making sure they understand the proper way to use lasers and drones,” Highstep said as he held the reins of Cletus and Olive.

“I’m beginning to wonder if the parents take the time to read the instructions with their children so that they understand how and why to use them in a safe manner,” I stated.

“Parents also need to check the local laws governing the operation of drones,” Anya was quick to add.

“I agree,” Highstep remarked as he guided the reindeer into the barn. “This presents a great opportunity for moms and dads to teach responsibility to their children.”

“You make a good point,” I mused aloud. “We make many toys to help teach children things through play. As they get older and want more sophisticated toys, we should not forget that they are still learning.”

Waving goodbye to Highstep and Sledge, Ms. Claus took my hand as we began walking. “Learning to be responsible and understanding the consequences of their actions,” she remarked, “is important. Everyone involved with children, not just their parents and teachers, need to recognize their part in the lives of young boys and girls.”

“Anya, you have given me an idea!” I exclaimed as I clapped my hands. “It’s time I spoke to the parents waiting for their sons and daughters who are talking to me about lasers and drones. Sharing our recent experience and my wish that children understood the responsibility of owning these gadgets could make a difference.”

“I like your idea, Santa,” Anya replied smiling. “At least you’re doing your part. The rest is up to the adults.”

Notes from Santa

To read more about Santa’s Sleigh, please check out:

Santa’s Improved Sleigh – March 16, 2020
Christmas Deliveries – December 28, 2020
Sleigh Problems – January 1, 2021

Find Cincy Santa (@CincySanta) on:

Facebook – Twitter Instagram 

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 . . .

Image from Drone Etiquette: 10 Do’s and Don’ts 

Reindeer Games

Early in the morning, I walked towards Highstep’s office. “So, are we all set for the Reindeer Games today?” I yelled while entering the barn.

Exiting his office, Highstep responded, “I think so. I know the reindeer are ready. Several of them were up most of the night practicing.”

Together we strolled toward the East Tunnel. Glancing at Highstep, I remarked, “For centuries, reindeer from the Arctic have come to compete against our North Pole Reindeer at the end of the summer.”

“You would think,” Highstep responded, “they compete, because we are watching and evaluating their skills. In reality, I think they look forward to the fun of competition and comradery.”

“The only time I can remember a reindeer not having fun, was back when Lyra gave Rudolph too much Magic Red Fairy Dust, turning his nose red.”

“True!” I began. “But once the other reindeer realized that his nose was going to help me on foggy nights, they happily let Rudolph join in the games.”

As we exited the East Tunnel, I was shocked at the number of elves who came to watch. “I’ve never seen so many spectators at the Reindeer Games!” I exclaimed.

“I think the excitement of the Elves Arctic Games in August has increased the enthusiasm and fun of these tournaments, before the hard work of the Christmas Season begins,” Highstep replied as he pointed me in the direction of the lake. “Let’s check out the swimming first.”

Approaching the lake of melted ice, Highstep explained, “The race is 200 yards down the lake and back. Most reindeer swim at around 6 miles per hour, so this event should take a little over two minutes.”

“No way I could do it that fast,” I remarked.

“I didn’t know you could swim Santa,” an elf to my right said. When I looked, Bernard continued, “I thought all those cookies you eat would cause you to sink.”

“Why Bernard! Are you jealous because I get more cookies than you?” I answered laughing. Those who heard the conversation chuckled, and before anyone could respond, the whistle blew to start the race.

As the ten competitors jumped into the water, the elves and other reindeer began cheering for their favorite. It did not take long for four reindeer to separate themselves from the others. “Looks like Dasher, Pearless, Pablo, and Leon are going to be the ones to watch,” Bernard yelled.

“Dasher has won this race the last four years,” Highstep shouted. “The others don’t stand a chance.”

Just then, Pablo began to pull away from the rest. Approaching the end where they would turn around, his lead was almost 10 yards. “Not looking good for Dasher!” Lyra commented.

As Pablo made his turn, Highstep looked at the timer and exclaimed, “Fifty-eight seconds! This could be a new record!”

When the next three reindeer made their turns, I could see Dasher make his move. With about 100 yards to go, he pulled even with Pablo and several elves chanted, “Dasher! Dasher! Dasher!”

“Listen to him snorting,” Highstep remarked. “That’s a sign he’s kicking it into high gear.”

The cheering picked up as some elves continued to shout, “Dasher!” and others cried, “Go Go Pablo!”

When Dasher touched the wall, Highstep could not control himself. Jumping up and down, he screamed, “It’s a record! One minute and forty-four seconds!! No reindeer has ever swum that fast before!”

While Highstep celebrated, Pablo, Leon, and Pearless finished within seconds of Dasher. Pulling out my notebook, I recorded their names and times and then walked East toward another event.

Approaching the start of the Reindeer Marathon, I noticed Ms. Claus standing with her assistant, Sophia. Strolling up behind them, I asked, “See any good reindeer today?”

“After running the elves games last month,” Anya responded as the two turned to face me, “we are just having fun watching. Besides, finding talented reindeer is your job.”

“Santa, do you have a favorite in the Marathon?” Sophia asked.

“To be honest, I don’t think we will ever see a reindeer beat Blitzen. He holds the record for the Reindeer Marathon at thirty-two minutes and twenty-two seconds.”

“Do you think he can break his record this year?” Ms. Claus asked as she gazed at the contestants.

“No. I’m sure it will last for some time. Reindeer average about 40 mph, and Blitzen’s record-breaking win was an amazing 48.6 mph. Racer and Flossie, however, look promising, so I’ll be watching them.”

“Marathon racers on your mark, set,” the announcer called over the speaker. Then a sharp buzz of the starter was heard.

Ms. Claus and I joined the elves in clapping for the marathon runners as they started their 26.2-mile race. “Since it will be about a half hour before the stronger runners cross the finish line, I believe I’ll check out the Sleigh Pulling Competition,” I told Anya.

“Okay. I think Sophia and I are going over to see the reindeer compete in the Jumping Contests,” Ms. Claus responded as she turned with her assistant and headed south.

I had a sharp interest in the pulling contest because both Carter and Bernard had asked for additional reindeer to handle moving the mail and supplies. Walking toward the competition, I remembered the games of 1852 when Donner set the record by pulling 576 pounds, which was over twice his weight.

The competition was ongoing when I arrived. “Anyone break the record yet?” I asked catching up with Highstep.

Without taking his eyes off the competition, he responded, “Donner has already pulled a sleigh weighing 568 pounds. Obviously not his best, but it will be hard to beat.”

“Do you know how Pacer and Ace did?” I inquired as Feckles stood at the starting line, ready to pull his sleigh the required 50 yards.

“Ace looked especially good. He pulled a sleigh of 510 pounds, which is just over twice his weight of 250,” Highstep informed me.

Just then the speakers crackled. “Mid-way through the marathon, Racer, Ready, Flossie, and Blitzen are leading the herd. The next closest reindeer is 45 seconds behind them.”

“I didn’t expect three other reindeer to be in the lead with Blitzen. That might be quite the finish,” I commented. Turning my attention back to the pulling contest, I asked Highstep, “How did Pacer do?”

“Like you, I expected a lot from him, but the best he could pull was 475 pounds. He may not be a good choice unless he really excels at some of the other games.”

“That’s too bad.” Before I could say any more, Feckles started to pull.

Weighing 500 pounds, the sleigh moved as the reindeer covered the first 35 yards quickly; then Feckles showed signs of slowing. “The last 10 to 15 yards are the tough ones, and with just 20 seconds left I’m not sure he is going to make it.”

Suddenly with five seconds remaining, Feckles let out a loud snort and passed the finish line. All the elves began cheering and clapping.

I gave a thumbs up to Highstep and said, “We should definitely offer him a position on the North Pole Team. For now, I need to get back and see the finish of the marathon. Do you plan on watching the rest of the contestants?”

Highstep nodded and added, “No problem, Santa. Catch you later.”

A large crowd stood at the marathon finish line. Making my way to a spot where I could see the end of the race, I couldn’t believe what I saw. Racer was leading the pack. With only about 20 yards to go, there was no way for Blitzen to make up the distance.

The crowd erupted when Racer crossed the finish line first. Later when Blitzen locked antlers with Racer to congratulate him, I put my hands on my hips and shook my head in disbelief.

“You know he planned that, right?” Ms. Claus said.

“What?” I responded as Anya came up behind me. “Why would he do that?”

“He figured that if he ran with or just behind the leader, it would give the other reindeer confidence,” Ms. Claus explained. “Blitzen hoped that if the others believed they were keeping up with him, they would try harder to beat him.”

“Ho! Ho! Ho! That sounds just like one of my reindeer!” Taking Anya’s hand, I directed her toward the tunnel into the village. “So how did the High Jump Contest go? See any reindeer I should check?”

“No one broke any records, but Speckless cleared six foot nine inches, six inches short of Dancer’s record.”

“Fantastic!” I exclaimed. “Most reindeer can only jump about six feet.

I let go of Anya’s hand and placed my arm around her shoulder. “I think this year may have been the most successful Reindeer Games ever. I’ll need to compare my notes with Highstep, Bernard, and Carter, but I believe we are going to have about a dozen recruits from these games.”

“That’s great!” Ms. Claus exclaimed giving me a hug. “With the elves spirits lifted last month from the Arctic Elf Games, and a successful Reindeer Games, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!”

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 . . .

To read more about Reindeer please check out:

How Rudolph Got His Red Nose – September 2, 2019
Dasher Becomes Part of Santas Team – October 28, 2019

Reiney Meets Cupid – February 10, 2020
Virus Threatens Santa’s Reindeer – March 30, 2020
Reindeer vs Technology – June 1, 2020
Blitzen Loses Race – August 31, 2020
Donner To The Rescue – November 16, 2020

Find Cincy Santa (@CincySanta) on:

Facebook – Twitter Instagram

Illustration from Catch My Party 

Different Strokes

Ms. Claus and I had settled in by the fireplace the other night. While enjoying a cup of Judy’s hot cocoa Anya asked, “Do you realize how much believing in one’s self can make a difference?”

“You mean like the reindeer believing they can fly in order for the Red Fairy Dust to work?”

“Yes, but I was really thinking about the elves.”

“The elves?” I questioned, not understanding what she meant.

“Yes! Some of your best elves, like Quinten, can just watch something being created one time, and then rebuild it as well or even better than the original.”

“I agree, Anya; that’s why I chose elves over Gremlins and Gnomes. But you know all this. Did something happen today?”

“Yes, I was talking with the head of Elf University. Professor Lector felt that he might have to send one of the new recruits back home to the Korvatunturi Mountains.”

“What? Rarely does Lector have to do that. Why?”

“It seems young Ernest is either too shy to try anything or is afraid he’s going to fail. I feel for him. He wants to work at the North Pole with his Uncle Reiney, who takes care of Cupid.”

“Lacking self-confidence is rare in an elf, but I often see that in children who have older brothers and sisters,” I explained. “Sometimes they are afraid of not being as good as their siblings.”

“Interesting,” remarked Anya as she put her mug on the table. “When that happens, I think they need someone to help them overcome their fears and believe in themselves.” Smiling she looked at me and added, “The way I see it, that someone is you, Santa.”

I smiled at my wife, for I knew she was right. “Okay. Tomorrow I will do that, I promise. For now, can’t we enjoy the fire and hot chocolate together?

Grinning, Anya whispered, “Thanks,” and gave me a kiss on the cheek.

After breakfast the next day, I went to the barn and found Ernest in the corner fixing one of the harnesses for the reindeer. Slipping up behind him, I watched as his hands made adjustments to it. “Nice work, Ernest,” I mentioned casually. “I don’t think I could do that.”

Startled, Ernest dropped the harness and his leather punch. “How did you know my name?”

“Why, I know everyone’s name. Lector must be proud of your progress at Elf University.”

Ernest looked down and sheepishly replied,” I think he is going to send me back to Korvatunturi.”

“Now why would he do that to someone with these skills?” I wondered aloud, scratching my head.

“Probably because I don’t like to do things in front of anyone. It makes me really nervous.”

“Did you mention this to your teachers? Sometimes if you just tell the people in charge, they will understand and help you.”

“I’m too embarrassed to admit my anxiety to anyone,” Ernest stated as his cheeks reddened.

Picking up the harness, I inspected it. “Help me out Ernest,” I said. “If you’re not doing the practice work in school, how could you ever do such nice work as this?”

Taking the harness from me, Ernest shrugged his shoulders and said, “I watch Uncle Reiney complete whatever he is working on, and then later I can just do it.”

Surprised by Ernest’s answer, I sat on a bale of hay and motioned for him to sit. “Have you done this with other things as well?”

“Yesterday I went over to watch production in the Kite, Planes & Rocket Workshop,” Ernest admitted. “Later that night, I went back and made a drone with a camera.”

“Did you show Avitor, the manager?”

“No, I just put it in with all the other ones the elves made.”

Instead of making Ernest feel more self-conscious than he already was, I congratulated him and left. “Lector has to see this side of Ernest,” I thought to myself. Slipping into Highstep’s office, I called Lector and asked him to meet me by the barn.

Ten minutes later, I saw the professor walking quickly towards me.

“Got here as soon as I could,” he said, pausing to catch his breath. “What seems to be the problem, Santa?”

“I hear you are worried that Ernest will not make it here at the North Pole because he never does the work in class.”

Surprised, Lector nodded in agreement. “True,” he remarked, “but that doesn’t mean I won’t give him a chance to improve.”

Noticing the puzzled look on his face, I smiled. “Good to know. Now I have something to show you,” I said, opening the door to the back of the barn. “We are going to observe Ernest while at work,” I whispered, “without him knowing we are here. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.”

Slipping in unnoticed, Lector and I hid behind some bales of hay and watched as Ernest repaired an old halter by replacing some of the worn-out parts with new leather.

“I like his technique,” murmured Lector, “but where did he learn how to do that?”

Noticing Ernest walking towards the bales of hay where we were hiding, I put my finger to my lips. Lector nodded as the young elf went into the stall across from us. Reaching for the collar worn by Vixen, he took it apart and reworked the leather with a special saddle soap till it looked like new. Reassembling it, Ernest added a unique nose band with her name etched in the leather.

Leaving Vixen’s stall, he strolled down to the end of the barn and out the door.

“Unbelievable,” muttered Lector shaking his head. “Santa, I have never seen Ernest work with such confidence and skill. Some of his methods are taught at the next level, yet he knows how to do them. I don’t get it.”

“Amazing, isn’t it? Did you know that Ernest is shy, and prefers to do his work alone?” I asked. “He was embarrassed to tell you or his other instructors.”

“But Santa . . .”

“Let me finish,” I said, patting Lector on the back. “You see, Ernest has performance anxiety, so you have not had a chance to observe that he is one of the gifted elves. He can see something worked on in front of him once and then is able to use that skill.”

“Sorry Santa,” Lector replied humbly, “I guess I got caught up in my work and missed the signs. I’m impressed with his work. I think we need to do something about his situation.”

“I agree. We learned a valuable lesson today. Because some of our young students learn in different ways, they can’t always do what is expected in the classroom,” I remarked. “Unless we do something about this, nothing will change.”

“Hmm,” he began as a grin slid across his face, “I need to think about that. For now, however, maybe we should ask Ernest where he would like to be employed.”

“I like that idea! Go ask him yourself.”

“Thanks Santa,” Lector responded, shaking my hand. “I appreciate the attention you gave to a promising elf. Seems that even an old professor can learn something new.”

“Keeping talented elves at the North Pole is always a plus,” I answered as we strolled towards the door. “Besides, you will have made Ms. Claus very happy, and that is a plus for me.”

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 . . .

To read more about Reiney and Reindeer please check out:

How Rudolph Got His Red Nose – September 2, 2019;
Dasher Becomes Part Of Santa’s Team – October 28, 2019
Reiney Meets Cupid – February 10, 2020
Virus Threatens Santa’s Reindeer – March 30, 2020
Blitzen Loses Race – August 31, 2020

Super Heroes – May 17, 2021

To read more about Lector please check out:

Translating Letters For Santa – August 19, 2019

Find Cincy Santa (@CincySanta) on:

Facebook – Twitter – Instagram

Illustration from Technology Integration in ELT

Workshop Improvement

Walking past the town center, Ms. Claus and I headed toward the cluster of workshops behind the village. Arriving, we marveled at the colorful patterns connecting the workplaces of the elves. “Reminds me of those water parks we have visited during the summer, doesn’t it?” I asked Ms. Claus as we sat on a bench along the walkway.

“When Houser and Bernard first proposed this system,” she remarked, “I knew that it would help move elves, materials, and finished toys quickly and keep all workers from having to go outside in bad weather. Yet, I never imagined there would be so many colorful additions.” Smiling, Anya slipped her arm through mine and added, “Kind of looks like a twisted rainbow.”

Grinning, I began to explain the operation that would soon be completed later today. “In our meeting this morning, my warehouse manager, Houser, and Bernard said they expect to have the series of slides and conveyors, inside those brightly colored tubes, ready for testing before dinner.”

“I’m sure you will be happy that this new structure to move materials and elves around the workshops and warehouses will be ready for this Christmas season.”

“You bet!” I exclaimed. “It’s hard to believe that I originally made everything in my cottage long ago. Now I have these,” I said, pointing towards all the buildings.

“We’re ready Santa,” Bernard called from our left.

Turning our heads, we stared at my head elf and asked, “Ready for what?”

“To test the new operation for moving materials around your cluster of workshops and warehouses. What else would I be talking about?” Bernard asked shrugging his shoulders.

Ms. Claus patted my knee and gave me a little kiss on my check. Not wanting to interfere, she said, “You need to go Santa.” Standing to leave, she added, “My assistant, Sophia, and I have things to take care of in the mailroom. See you at dinner.”

After Ms. Claus left, Bernard and I strolled toward the Doll and Dollhouse Workshop. “So, you are probably wondering about all the different colors.”

“Ms. Claus and I were just talking about that.”

“Each tube color identifies what is being moved inside it.” Seeing the frown on my face, Bernard continued. “The blue tubes carry mail to the different workshops and departments, while the yellow ones transport supplies to all the workshops.”

“Those must be the ones with conveyors?”

“That’s right Santa. The other tubes have slides in them.” Having reached the workshop, Bernard opened the door for me. “Come in and let me show you how they work.”

Once inside, I stopped to watch. A ten-foot conveyor extended out of the wall with the materials to make dolls slowly moving along it. As three elves took the materials off the belt, they placed them into the appropriate bins for the workers who created the dolls. “This is great!” I exclaimed.

Excited to show me everything, Bernard insisted, “Let’s go upstairs where you can see the system for transporting elves from workshop to workshop.”

Arriving on the second floor, I expected to see a conveyor, similar to the one downstairs, but when we stopped, Bernard pointed to what looked like a whole in the wall. “This is how the elves will travel from workshop to workshop without having to go outside.”

“Can I show him?” asked Jellybean jumping up and down with his hands raised in the air.

“Of course,” Bernard answered.

In a flash, the elf ran over and jumped into the hole and squealed, “Whee!”

I ambled over to the hole and listened as his voice faded. “That looks and sounds like fun!” I shouted. “I’ll meet you at the bottom!” and with that I jumped into the hole.

“SANTA! NO!” Bernard screamed in an attempt to stop me, but it was too late.

I could feel my face turning red with embarrassment as soon as I leaped into the tube. Instead of joining Jellybean, I realized I was stuck in the opening.

With the help of two other elves, Bernard grabbed my arms and pulled me out. Grinning he explained, “The green slides are just for elves Santa.  After all, when an elf is wanted in a workshop he or she needs to get there quickly. The size of the slide allows for that. If we made it big enough for you, it would slow them down. Besides we made some just for you.”

“How do I know which ones I will fit in?” I wondered.

“Easy Peezy Santa,” Bernard remarked. “The red and white striped one takes you from any workshop or warehouse right back to your office. The red and green striped one takes you to wherever you need to be. When finished, I will let you try them out.”

“I can’t wait! What about the purple tubes?”

“Glad you asked. Let’s go over to the production line.”

Approaching the track, I could not help but notice that it was extended to connect to the green slide in the wall. I stood and watched as the dolls and dollhouses got to the end of the production line and quickly disappeared down the slide. “So, these go directly to the warehouse?” I asked.

Before Houser or Bernard could answer my question, the elf Duffer yelled, “I need to report for work in the warehouse.” And before any of us realized what was happening, he jumped into the slide.

“Noooooo!!!” Houser screamed! But it was too late, Duffer was gone.

Giving Bernard and Houser a strange look, I asked, “I don’t understand. He had to go to work and the slide goes to where he is supposed to be. What’s the problem?”

While Houser phoned the warehouse, Bernard shook his head and explained, “Part of the new system includes an automatic wrapping station at the bottom of each warehouse slide.”

Not understanding, I responded, “So?”

“Well before Duffer can get off the slide, he will be put onto a conveyor belt and gift wrapped.”

Hanging the phone up on the wall, Houser updated us. “The crew at the bottom found him squirming inside a package and let him out. He does not seem to be hurt.”

“That’s good!” I insisted. “I’m guessing the testing phase will need to include proper training of the elves.”

“We will be doing that as part of the testing,” Bernard responded, “but for now, let’s continue the tour and pointed in the direction of Patches’ office. “Slides along with the tubes for mail are in the supervisor’s office in each workshop,” Bernard informed me. “Let’s go check it out, then Houser and I can get down to the testing and teaching phase.”

When I walked into Patches’ office, I saw the small blue tube for mail right next to her desk. It wasn’t until I turned to the right that I saw the red and white one for me. “This is mine,” I asked knowing full well it was.

“That’s it,” Houser said. “This will take you right back to your office in much less time than if you walked there.”

I couldn’t control the excitement and hopped into the tube. This time, I did not get stuck. Instead, I felt like an eight-year-old again as I slid down screaming “YEEESSS” all the way to my office.

When I disappeared, Houser looked at Bernard. Shaking his head, he asked, “Do you think Santa will act like this every time he uses his slide to get around Claus Village?”

“I have no doubt! He may be 1,751 years old, but he is still a kid at heart.”

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 . . .

Find Cincy Santa (@CincySanta) on:

Facebook – Twitter – Instagram 

Let The Games Begin

“Still feeling down and out, Sophia?” Ms. Claus asked as she entered her office and took a seat behind the desk.

Nodding at her boss, Sophia sat and sighed.

Hearing a knock, Ms. Claus grinned. As she rose to open the door, she explained, “Yesterday, after you told me about the changes the elves experience in August, I realized that they must feel this way every year. That’s when I decided to invite a few others over to discuss the problem.”

“Hope we’re not late,” a voice called out as the door opened.

When Bernard and I entered the office along with Blanch from the kitchen, Sophia gasped. “You didn’t tell me Santa would be here!”

“Of course! I needed to hear what you had to say,” I answered.

“Go ahead Sophia, tell Santa what you’ve told me,” Ms. Claus encouraged.

Hesitating, the elf took a deep breath. “Santa, please don’t take this personally, Sophia began. “You see, every year, the elves’ easy-going days usually end in August which is when the toy-making workload increases. It’s like one day we are having fun with friends outside, and the next day we are inside working hard to produce toys. The change is hard!!!”

Stroking my beard thoughtfully, I replied, “Ms. Claus and I have been noticing that, and decided to do something about it. Would a celebration to honor this change, work for the elves?”

Suddenly, Sophia clapped her hands and exclaimed, “That would be fantastic!”

“GOOD,” I answered laughing, “but one thing I want to make clear to everyone here,” I continued. “Unlike the reindeer games which are serious, these will be for fun, OK?”

Nodding, the five of us began planning. To encourage the elves to celebrate the change rather than feeling sad, everyone agreed on preparing games the elves enjoyed. Preliminaries would be held for a week in order to narrow down the competitors leading up to the final day. All department & workshop members would vote on who would represent their divisions. Similar to the Olympics, gold, silver, and bronze medals would be awarded for the individual contests: cross-country skiing, figure skating, and story-telling as well as the team games: tug-of-war, ice sculpture, and the toboggan run. A large outdoor feast would conclude the week-long event.

Soon, the village buzzed with excitement as the necessary arenas for The Arctic Games were created. The elves felt energized. Later when the preliminaries took place, friendly competition erased the sad looks, and the happy spirits of all in the North Pole were restored.

“It feels so good to see everyone smiling and laughing,” I remarked when we took our places on the review stage to watch the elves march out of the West Tunnel. Sporting their team uniforms, the kitchen crew paraded past wearing a chef’s hat and blue shirts decorated with images of cooking utensils. I let out a big “HO! HO! HO!” when they displayed their team flag: blue with a plate of chocolate chip cookies in the center. “Love the flag!” I yelled.

“Look,” Anya chuckled. “The postal elves are wearing mail carrier uniforms and carrying small delivery pouches. Check out their flag, Santa!” she exclaimed. “A circle of stamped letters with your image in the center on purple cloth, my favorite color!”

Once all the elves had proudly strutted past us, the final games began.

As two teams faced one another across the red line, they picked up the long rope stretched across it and pulled. Though the contestants struggled to drag each group across the line, it was Highstep’s crew from the Reindeer Barn who proved the strongest followed by Fizzlepop’s Electronics Toys and Games division, and Girder’s group from Building and Construction.

Leaving the review stand, Ms. Claus and I went over to watch teams of elves sculpt ice. “This is my favorite,” replied Anya as we entered the field full of blocks of ice. “So artistic and creative!”

“Santa, Ms. Claus!” yelled Birdie from the Scout Elves. “Over here.”

Strolling in her direction, I was surprised at the ice image taking shape. “Though it’s not finished, I think you are creating an elf-on-the-shelf scene, right?” I asked.

“You guessed it, Santa. What do you think?”

I marveled at the details of the elf as it peeped out of a Christmas tree to watch the children seated below. “I think you and your team might have a winner here, Birdie. Good luck.”

Seeing Anya ahead of me, I picked up my pace. “You should have seen the Scout Elves entry,” I remarked, catching up to her.

“I did, and it was unique, but this one by Research and Development is amazing. Look at the colors they applied between long sheets of ice. They move and twirl like the Northern Lights.”

“Unbelievable what Quentin and his bunch can design.” Eyeing all the sculptures being developed, I whispered to Anya, “They are all so unique that I am glad we are not the judges.”

Exiting the field, we walked over to the ice-skating rink and arrived in time to watch Vetter, the veterinarian, step onto the ice. As music played, she skated smoothly around the rink. Picking up speed, she jumped into the air to perform a triple axel before she landed, and then sailed across the ice in a layback spin. “I never realized how talented Vetter was on the ice,” I remarked as the crowd applauded. “Did you know that only eight women have landed that jump in competition?”

“No,” Anya replied. “I guess Vetter learned a lot while growing up in Lapland. Perhaps, if the competitive skating world could include elves, she would be the ninth.”

When the figure-skating competition ended, we headed west towards the areas for the toboggan run and the cross-country skiing event. We arrived just as Lector from the Elf University and Telsa from Communications battled it out in the final stretch.

“Did you see that?” I screamed as Faer from J.A.T.S. (Jolly Assistants to Santa) swept past both of them to earn first place. “What a performance by all three of them!”

“Well folks,” exclaimed the announcer, “this is amazing! We have a clear winner, but Lector and Telsa tied for second, earning each a Silver Medal. What an incredible job.”

Loud yells and hooting could be heard everywhere as viewers clapped. “I don’t think I’ve seen such a close race in my life,” Anya yelled.

Leaving the area after the excited crowd settled down, Ms. Claus and I made it to the toboggan run in time to watch the three teams settle onto their sleds before a horn was blown. Steep and slick, the run took all three teams down three identical hillsides developed by Maintenance ten days earlier. I loved watching as Science and Nature took the early lead over Warehousing. Yet it was Sledge’s team from Sleighs who succeeded in zooming past both to win the competition.

Giggling, Anya commented, “Since they make sleds, it’s not a surprise that they would win.”

“True,” I remarked, “but you have to give them credit on knowing how to shift their bodies and stay in position on the toboggan in order to gain speed.

Making our way to the final competition: story-telling, Ms. Claus and I seated ourselves close to the fire-ring to catch the last story of the evening. We watched as Hulta from Special Stuffed Animals stepped into the light from the fire.

Though older than most of the elves, her voice was loud and clear as she recounted an ancient story from the far north about a star constellation in the night sky- a hunter with his bow aimed at the Cosmic reindeer in an eternal hunt. Hulta’s skill at creating different sounds pulled the audience into the legend. “When the arrow finally lands and the Cosmic Reindeer falls,” she explained, drawing the story to a close, “the world as we know it will end.”

Standing up, I began clapping. “Your version of the everlasting hunt is excellent,” I yelled as the audience gave her a huge round of applause.”

“That was superb,” Anya remarked as she slipped her arm through mine. “I’m glad it’s a legend and not reality.”

After the events were completed and the feast was finished, I stood on the review stage and announced, “Ms. Claus and I would like to congratulate the competitors and teams, as well as thank those who organized and made The Arctic Games happen. The entire week has been an amazing coming together to celebrate the changes that will take place soon. Now, Ms. Claus and I have a surprise that I think you’ll enjoy,” I continued. “Thanks to Quentin, who made this happen, we are able to give the first fireworks display in the North Pole Village.”

“Santa and I want you to sit back and be wowed,” shouted Anya as the lights in the village faded.

Once darkness spread across the crowd, a huge boom was heard and twinkling lights sprinkled the sky. When the elves started to “oooooh” and “aaaaah”, I knew Anya, Sophia, Bernard, Blanch and I had succeeded in creating the best way to end one season and begin another.

Notes From Santa

I hope you enjoyed today’s story. Check back next Monday for my story about the Reindeer Games. 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 . . .

To read more about Sophia please check out:

Assistant to Ms. Claus – November 11, 2019, 2019
Ms. Claus Gets the Blues – November 23, 2020

Find Cincy Santa (@CincySanta) on:

Facebook – TwitterInstagram 

Illustration from Elf On The Shelf Family Fun

Jack & Addie

Ms. Claus and I visited Big Bone Lick Historical Site in Kentucky recently. The Park was opening new displays that day and when we arrived, we found many people waiting for the dedication of the new exhibits in the visitor center. Under the shade of tents, volunteers stood ready to explain all the bones and other objects on display on the tables. One of the tents had been set up with tables and chairs for the visitors to enjoy drinks and snacks.

“After the long trip down here,” Anya said as we walked towards the tents holding hands, “I could use something to drink.”

“That sounds like a great idea.”

As we came around the corner and could see the guests sitting at some tables, I stopped and tightened my grip on Anya’s hand. “Look, that’s Addie and Jack, with their mom and grandma.”

“We see children all the time when making trips like this.” Anya shook my hand in hers and continued, “I doubt they recognize us dressed in casual clothes.”

“I’m not so sure. As a favor to their Gimmie, the name they have for their grandma, I have visited them the last three years at their house. I remember Fratzkel, the Scout Elf that visits them each year, saying how they are always telling their friends about me.”

“Well, we could just go inside the visitor center and skip the drink.”

Brushing my beard with my hand I decided, “You know you’re right. It’s not that we have never been spotted before. I think we should just be pro-active and see where it goes.” I put my arm around Anya’s shoulder and started walking towards Jack and Addie.

When we reached the table where the children sat, enjoying some cookies and juice box, I said, “Jack, Addie, I can’t believe you are here.” Sitting down at the table with them, I continued, “Ms. Claus and I enjoy the history of the park as well as all the trees and beautiful flowers they have here. What brings you out today?”

Addie looked up and upon seeing me began grinning from ear to ear and said, “Mom and Gimmie wanted to see the new exhibits in the visitor center. But we wanted to see the bison.”

“We like seeing the bison as well. After the ceremony, maybe we can all walk down to the bison pen together.”

With excitement in their voices, they both responded, “Thank you Santa.”

“We’re going to get something to drink and go inside now. Come find us after the dedication, and we will visit the bison.”

We all waved to each other, and Anya and I picked up a bottle of water, and headed to the visitor center.

When we walked into the visitor center, I saw Gimmie, looking at the replica of a Harlan Ground Sloth. The sloth lived at Big Bone over 10,000 years ago, stood about 6 feet tall and weighed around 3,500 pounds. I walked over to her and said, “I saw Jack and Addie outside and hope that them seeing me, in the middle of Summer, did not ruin anything for them.”

With a big smile on her face, Gimmie said, “You don’t have anything to worry about. They think you are part of our family!”

My worry faded away for good when Jack and Addie came up to me during the dedication of the exhibits and Jack whispered, “Santa, they have stuffed snakes in the gift shop that we want, but Mom told us we can’t have them.”

Addie stepping in front of Jack, asked, “Do you think you could bring them to us for Christmas?”

“Well, I suppose I could see if the elves can make them for you. I’ll check into it when I get back to the North Pole.”

They threw their arms around me, squeezed tightly, then ran away smiling.

I turned to Anya and gave her a big hug and told her, “I don’t think we have to worry about anyone recognizing us anymore when we visit during the Summer. It would seem that children are not bothered seeing us outside of the Christmas season. They seem to think it is normal.

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 . . .

To read more about Santa’s travels outside of Christmas please check out:

Santa’s Waterpark Adventure – September 9, 2019
Santa and Ms. Claus Go On Vacation – September 16, 2019
Stories From Santa & Ms. Claus on Vacation (Part 1) – September 23, 2019

Stories From Santa & Ms. Claus on Vacation (Part 2) – September 30, 2019
Stories From Santa & Ms. Claus on Vacation (Part 3) – October 7, 2019
Amusement Park Adventure – July 27, 2020
RV Camping – May 24, 2021
The Adventure Begins – July 5, 2021

Find Cincy Santa (@CincySanta) on:

FacebookTwitterInstagram

Illustration by FireMane Studio

Surprise Dinner Guest

The summer sun was high in the sky at the North Pole as Ms. Claus and I exited the East Tunnel from the North Pole Village. Taking a deep breath, I said, “Nothing better than cool, fresh air.”

“And the warmth of sunlight on your face,” Anya added. As she took my hand, we began walking west. “The sun at Christmas time just does not feel the same.”

“At that point, it is only up for about three hours and never gets high enough in the sky to make a difference,” I explained. Pointing to a path between a small hill and a large ice spike, that looked like a huge upside-down icicle, we continued our daily walk.

Entering the gap, we noticed Nippy, Frosty the Snowman’s cousin. “Hi Ms. and Mr. Claus. I thought I’d find you taking a stroll outside this morning. Do you mind if I join you?”

“Not at all,” Anya said, putting her hand on his shoulder. “The more the merrier.”

As Nippy walked on the other side of Ms. Claus, the three of us continued.

Suddenly Anya stopped, turned to her left, and excitedly asked, “Did you hear that?”

I twisted to look in the same direction and listened. Not hearing anything, I cupped my hands behind my ears. After a moment, I looked at Nippy. “Did you hear anything?”

When the snowman shrugged his shoulders, I gazed at Ms. Claus and smiled. “Though we didn’t hear anything, it might be a bear cub playing around.” I then grabbed a handful of snow and packed it tight. “I’ll throw this over the hill. That will scare the cub back to his mother.”

Looking like a wobbling windmill, I wound up and threw the snowball. I was a bit shocked when it actually soared over the hill. With a smile worthy of a plate of cookies, I turned to Anya. “There, that should do it.”

As I placed my arm over her shoulders, something hit my head. “WHAT!?” Rubbing the spot carefully, I realized it was snow. “Nippy are you playing games with me?”

Surprised by my comment, Nippy put his hands on his hips, “I would never hit you with snow!”

“Well, someone did!”

Spotting an incoming snowball, I yelled, “DUCK!!”

Though none of us were hit, Anya soon made one and threw it toward the hill as two more hit Nippy on the back and me in the leg.

Laughing, Anya, Nippy, and I began making snowballs. As we hurled them, some hit the hillside while others flew over it. Returning snowballs sometimes found their mark causing us to drop to the ground or leap away from the carefully aimed missiles.

“I haven’t had this much fun in a long while,” giggled Anya as she continued to take aim and throw.

Finally, what we thought was a hill began to shift and stand upright.

“Whoa!” I exclaimed. “Who or what is that?”

Dumbfounded, we watched what we thought was a hillside continue to rise. Eventually, it turned to face us. Unable to move, we stared at the enormous figure as a familiar character emerged beside it and yelled, “Hello Santa, Ms. Claus, and Nippy. Great snowball fight! Stay where you are,” Polar Pete cried. “I want you to meet my friend. We were taking a nap when you hit me with the snowball.”

As Polar Pete, the best tracking Polar Bear I know, walked toward us, the gigantic creature ambled beside him. Unsure what it was, I stood in front of Anya as Nippy came up next to me.

“Sorry I hit you in the arm Santa,” the huge white bear chuckled after he stood in front of us. “When I got struck in the head with a snowball, I decided to get even. The snowball had already left my hand when I realized it was you. I’m sorry!”

Nodding, I laughed. “I owe you an apology too since my snowball smacked you first,” I remarked. “You see, Ms. Claus believed she heard something over in the direction of what we thought was a hill. I threw one to scare anything that was making the noise. Guess I should have looked first.”

Pete grinned. “Sometimes I snore, but anyway let me introduce you to my friend, Heddy,” he said pointing toward the massive individual beside him.

At about eight foot tall with white fur that was longer on his shoulders and arms that reached to his knees, the shape stepped forward, smiled, and bowed. His large teeth filled his equally large mouth which took up most of his conical shaped head. “I don’t believe it! An Abominable Snowman!!” I exclaimed

“He doesn’t look like any snowman in my family,” Nippy answered, shaking his head.

“We prefer Yeti, if you don’t mind,” the strange creature insisted.

“Heddy,” Polar Pete barked, “I would like you to meet Santa Claus, Ms. Claus, and Nippy.”

Anya finally moved out from behind me to get a good look at Pete’s friend. “I thought Yetis only lived in the Himalayan Mountains.”

Heddy sat on the ground so we did not have to keep looking up at him. “You’re right, but I have not seen my good friend Pete for several years and came up just to visit.”

“Well, it’s a pleasure to meet you,” I stated as I held out my hand for him to shake. “Maybe you and Pete would like to join us for dinner?”

“Santa,” Ms. Claus quickly protested, “our dining hall was designed for the elves, who are just a bit shorter than Heddy. I don’t know . . .”

I put a finger to my lips and Anya stopped. “It’s the middle of summer, Ms. Claus, and the warmest time of the year,” I explained. “Since the sun won’t set until after midnight, I was thinking we should have an old-fashioned picnic outside.”

“What a wonderful time that would be!” Ms. Claus exclaimed. “I’ll check in with Blanch. Together we’ll get things ready.”

Feeling a bit left out, Nippy asked, “What about me?”

“I’m afraid you would melt in the kitchen,” Ms. Claus said laughing. “Maybe you could help Santa and the elves set things up outside.”

As everyone scattered, Heddy turned to Pete, “If your North Pole friends are always like this, I may just have to move here!”

“A Yeti at the North Pole! Now that would be something!” Pete exclaimed. “Christmas might never be the same.”

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 . . .

To read more about Nippy and Polar Pete please check out:

Santa’s Newest Friends – July 8 2019
Wiggle and Waddle Meet Polar Pete – July 15, 2019
A Visit From Jack Frost – January 20, 2020
The Lost Elves – February 3, 2020
Homesick Penguins – June 8, 2020
Nippy Falls Apart – March 8, 2021

Wiggle and Waddle Go Home – May 31, 2021

 Find Cincy Santa (@CincySanta) on:

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Illustration by FireMane Studio 

Fairy Dust Shortage

“I’m not going to tell him!” Telsa, the elf in charge of communications exclaimed.

“I don’t know why you think I should be the one to tell him,” Bernard responded, pacing back and forth. “You’re in charge of communications; besides, Queen Gwendolen called you with the news.”

“But you’re Santa’s head elf, this is your responsibility, not mine.”

Frustrated, Bernard plopped down into a chair next to Telsa’s desk and put his hands over his face as if to make the problem go away.

“Just how important is the Bladderwort plant to the Snow Fairies, anyway?” Telsa asked.

Looking intensely at her, Bernard explained, “It’s one of the main ingredients used to create all four Fairy Dusts that Santa uses to make Christmas happen.” Worried, the head elf again started pacing. “Did Gwendolen explain why there may be a shortage?” he asked.

“She said that with global warming, the bogs and wetlands, where the Bladderwort grows, are being flooded, and the plants are being destroyed.”

“I always thought the Bladderworts could grow under as well as float on the water . . .”

Before Bernard finished, Telsa interrupted him. “True, but Queen Gwendolen also told me that the Arctic ice is melting so rapidly that the plants are being washed out before they can adapt to the higher water level. In addition, waterfowl and fish that feed off the plant make it even harder to find enough.”

“Good morning Telsa and Bernard,” I said entering the communication office. “I’m expecting a message from Queen Gwendolen. Did she call yet?”

The two elves looked at each other and then at me. Then as Telsa began shuffling papers on her desk to avoid answering, Bernard began to explain, “Actually Santa, we were just talking about that. Seems Gwendolen is worried about being able to make enough Magic Dust for you.”

“I’ve been worried this might happen. It’s the Bladderwort, isn’t it?”

Relieved that Bernard told me the news, Telsa chimed in. “The fairies just finished harvesting the plants, and Queen Gwendolen said they have enough for this year, but she is not sure about next year.”

Unhappy, I shook my head and sadly muttered, “What will we do next year if the Queen is right?”

“It can’t be that complicated, Santa,” Telsa wondered aloud. “Can the elves do something to help the Snow Fairies?”

“I’ve only seen the process once, and it is very intense and precise,” I stated taking a seat next to Telsa’s desk. “You see, to make the Magic Fairy Dust the Snow Fairies collect the berries from Bearberry and Alpine Berry plants for the red; the seeds from the Arctic Poppy for the yellow; the roots of Arctic Moss for green; and the petals of the Pasque Flower for the blue, at the end of the Arctic growing season in July.”

Shaking their heads, the two elves stared at me in amazement. “We never knew that,” remarked Telsa.

“I only share the details on a need-to-know basis, and under the circumstances, you two should be made aware of the serious nature of Fairy Dust, but there is more,” I said. “After collecting what is needed, the fairies mix in an equal amount of Bladderwort to each, along with three drops of a secret oil they have. Then they brew the mixture for days until it thickens. The elves then store the mixture in shallow containers until it is solid. After that happens, they grind it into the final product ready for me to use.”

“That is complicated,” Bernard said as he stroked his chin. “Though we may not be able to make the Magic Fairy Dust like the Snow Fairies, the elves should be able to use their magical skills to figure out a possible replacement, if there is a shortage,” he added. “After all, we managed just fine until around 1500 when you first started using the red dust to get the reindeer to fly.”

“I appreciate your positive attitude, Bernard,” I replied. “However, back then I did not have to go to as many homes as I do today. Maybe we can find a way to make our work more efficient so that the four types of dust last longer.”

“YES!” Bernard exclaimed. “If we consolidate the mail sleigh runs, I believe we could save some,” he remarked as he slammed his fist into his hand. “And then maybe instead of sending the toys for just one house to your bag, we send toys for two or three houses at a time. Think of the green dust we could save,” he yelled as he gave me a high five.

“You may just have something Bernard,” I said jumping out of my chair. “It’s time to look at the problem and find a solution.”

Bernard smiled. “Santa, don’t worry; the elves will always have your back. Come on Telsa,” he announced loudly. “No time to waste. I’ll need you to send out a communication to Highstep, manager of the reindeer; Quinten, Research and Development director; Carter, mail room administrator; Treckie, overseer of tele-transportation of toys; and Houser, warehouse boss.  Slipping his arm across Telsa’s shoulders, he began explaining what was needed as the two walked into the telecommunication room.

“Elves,” I said grinning, “what would I do without them.”

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 . . .

Read more about the Snow Fairies:

Flying High – July 29, 2019
Lost Fairy Dust – May 11, 2020
Meeting Queen Gwendolen – May 25, 2020
Christmas Movies – January 18, 2021
Land of the Mystic – March 29, 2021

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