Magic Beans

Ms. Claus and I sat on a bench in front of the campfire in the middle of the courtyard. The elves were singing campfire songs and making s’mores, when Dewey approached us. He was carrying a small brown cloth sack with a yellow draw string. “Can I show you something Santa?” he asked.

“Why of course. What do you have there?”

Dewey opened the sack and poured several beans into his hand. “I found these on a hike the other day, and I was wondering if they may be magic beans. I’ve never seen beans like these before at the North Pole.”

I reached over and took one of the beans to inspect it. After looking from several angles, I placed it just below my nose to see if there was a scent. “I’m afraid these are just ordinary Lima Beans that are sometimes called butter beans. My guess is they were dropped by the exploration team that was visiting last month.”

Seeing disappointment on Dewey’s face, I added, “Magic beans are extremely rare. I remember a story about them from a long time ago.”

“Can you tell me the story?” Dewey asked regaining his excitement.

“Of course.” As Dewey sat on the ground in front of me, I leaned forward on the bench to tell the tale.

A long time ago, Naira, a big-eyed giant, lived in a castle on a large stratocumulus cloud. One morning she was making breakfast for Magnus, her husband, when there was a knock on the door. She headed to the door wondering aloud, “Did Magnus lock himself out?”

The large old wooden door creaked loudly as Naira opened it. She stuck her head out to see who was there, but saw no one. Shrugging her shoulders, she stepped back and began to close the door when she heard a small voice say, “Excuse me.” She looked down to find a young boy from the land down below. “Who are you?” she demanded to know.

“My name is Jack.”

The giant woman kept looking all around, as if afraid someone might see Jack, then asked, “Are you hungry? I was just making breakfast. Please come in.”

As Naira stepped aside, Jack entered the castle. “Thank you. I would love some breakfast.”

Walking into the kitchen, the giant woman then asked, “What are you doing here and how did you get to this castle?”

Naira placed a plate of cheese and a glass of milk on the table, and Jack climbed up the tall chair and stood on it in order to reach the food on the table. In between each bite, he told her the story of how poor his mom and he were and how they decided to sell Bessy, their cow, for seeds to plant and grow more food. Drinking his milk, he explained how he met a man on the way to town who offered him three magic beans for the cow.

Naira interrupted Jack saying, “That had to be that old man Fogey! He’s done this before. You took the beans, didn’t you?”

“He told me they were magic, and I believed they would help us grow even more food.” Embarrassed, Jack hung his head and continued, “Mom was really disappointed and upset with what I did, and I threw them out my bedroom window.”

“When you awoke, is that when you found the bean stalk growing up into the sky?”

“Yes ma’am. I had to see what was at the top, and here I am.”

Just then the entire castle began to shake and Jack heard a loud thump, thump, thump from the hall.

“That’s my husband Magnus, and there is nothing he likes better than boys boiled and served on toast for breakfast.” Looking around the room, Naira took the lid off of a copper pot sitting next to the stove and demanded, “Jack, get in here. Quickly!”

Jack climbed down from the chair and jumped into the pot, just before the giant entered the kitchen. “I’m so hungry I could eat three cows.” Magnus then tilted his head back as if to smell something when he chanted,

“Fee-fi-fo-fum,
I smell the blood of an Englishman,
Be he alive, or be he dead,
I’ll grind his bones to make my bread.”

“You know we haven’t had a boy for breakfast for years,” Naira told Magnus. Now go wash up and when you get back, I’ll have your breakfast on the table.”

As the giant left the room, Naira heard the lid of the pot rattle and quickly told Jack, “Wait! Magnus will not be long, and you will not have enough time to get out. After his breakfast he will take a nap, and then you will be able to safely leave.”

Magnus returned, carrying a basket of gold eggs and a sickly-looking white hen. He growled “Lay!” and the hen laid a gold egg, which Magnus put in the basket. After finishing his breakfast, the giant went to the closet, and pulled out a harp with the sad face of a young girl. This time he barked, “Play!” and the harp played and sang a gentle lullaby. Shortly thereafter, the huge creature began to nod and snore, shaking the castle.

Naira lifted the lid from the copper pot and told Jack, “Now is the time for you to leave. He won’t sleep for very long.”

Jack climbed out of the pot and began walking to the door. Suddenly, he turned back to look at the hen and harp, and asked, “Will they be okay?”

Naira stood and just stared for a moment, then said, “You should take them with you. We do not need them, and the hen will help you and your mother return to prosperity.”

Jack grabbed the harp and Naira handed him the white hen. As he placed the hen under his arm, the hen clucked, waking Magnus. “Wife what have you done with my harp and hen?”

Jack started running down the winding road back to the bean stalk, as fast as his feet would take him. Magnus followed, but before he could catch up, Jack disappeared. Magnus peered through the clouds and saw Jack climbing down the bean stalk. Stomping his large foot, he angrily roared,

“Fee-fi-fo-fum,
I smell the blood of an Englishman,
Be he alive, or be he dead,
I’ll grind his bones to make my bread.”

Magnus began climbing down after Jack, but as the boy neared the bottom, he hollered for his mom to bring his axe. Jumping to the ground, he handed the harp and hen to his mother. Taking the axe from her, he began hacking away at the bean stalk.  With all the wood chopping he did, he was able to cause the stalk to teeter and collapse, forcing the giant to fall to the earth and break his crown.

Naira, watched it happen from the hole in the cloud, and when it was over, a large smile filled her face. Then she whispered to herself, “Finally, I’m free from that mean ogre!”

Three months later, when Naira looked down again to check on Jack and his mom, she was pleasantly surprised to see that they were able to buy back Bessy and enough seeds to plant for food. The giant woman grinned as she noticed the feast Jack and his mother had prepared for their neighbors, complete with beautiful music from the now happy singing harp.

And Naira, Jack, and his mother lived happily ever after.

When I was finished with the story, I was surprised at the number of elves who had gathered to listen. Dewey spoke for all the elves, when he said, “Santa, that is the first time I heard the story of Jack and the Bean Stalk from the view point of the giant’s wife.”

“I’m glad you liked it!” I exclaimed. “I hope you remember that there is always more than one side to any story. Listening to all of them certainly gives you a better understanding.”

Notes From Santa

I hope you enjoyed today’s story. Another one 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 Queens Theater  

Handling Krampus

Heading to my office, I knew I would have to pass the dining hall, where Doheny was making cookies. I pinched my nose as I approached the door and walked a little faster so that I couldn’t be tempted. Just as I passed the door, I stopped suddenly as I heard the conversation going on inside.

Standing just to the side of the door, I listened as an elf stated, “In addition to Krampus being half goat and half demon, he has devilish horns, a snake-like tongue, and is covered in fur!”

“That might be true, but I heard,” another elf responded, “that his arms and body are strung with chains and bells, and he carries a large basket on his back to cart off bad children. He’s evil.”

Having heard enough, I took a step inside saying, “What’s all this talk about Krampus?”

The six elves seated at a round table looked at me with glazed expressions on their faces. Sully was the first to recover from the shock of seeing me. “We were just talking about Krampus,” he responded, “and what he is like.”

I walked over to the table and took a seat in one of the two empty chairs. “The legend of Krampus began in and was limited to Austria and the Alpine region for many centuries,” I stated, “but now it seems to be spreading all over the world.”

“Does he really exist?” Peppermint shouted, wanting to be sure I heard her.

“Many believe he does,” I explained as I continued to discuss the issue with the elves at the table. “In fact, some countries actually celebrate Krampusnacht, which is German for Krampus Nights, on December 5th each year.”

“That’s the night before you begin your deliveries to Belgium and the Netherlands for Christmas,” Tutu remarked surprised.

“You’re right. Myth has it, Krampus strolls about town on that night, checking on little boys and girls, and dishing out lumps of coal to those who have been bad,” I remarked, shifting forward in my chair.

“But you don’t give coal out to those being mean,” Hanfin insisted.

“No, I don’t, but because of Krampus, I’ve gained the reputation for doing just that,” I responded sighing.

As Hanna leaned over the table, she dropped her voice to a whisper and remarked “I heard that you could also be swatted with a birch branch.”

All the elves looked at her shocked as Snickers added, “That’s if you are lucky! Others end up in the basket on Krampus’s back where worse things can happen.”

“Santa . . .” Peppermint began in a cautious voice. “Is there . . . a chance . . . “

“No need to hesitate. You can ask me anything you want. What’s your question?” I stated in a calm voice.

“Well with his holiday on the 5th of December and your feast day on the 6th, there is a rumor that you enjoy taking care of those on the Nice List and intentionally leave Krampus to take care of those on the Naughty List.”

“I was wondering if the elves had heard that tale.” Leaning back in my chair, I collected my thoughts and said, “I try to prevent anyone from punishing a child in any way for anything!”

“We know that, Santa!” Hanfin was quick to say. “That’s why I think everything about this Krampus is bogus.”

All the other elves mumbled and shook their heads not sure what to believe. Finally, Sully spoke up, “Christmas time is a special and merry time of the year. Why would anyone want to have a mean creature lurking about?”

Thinking the issue of Krampus was settled, I began to push my chair back from the table when Hanna asked, “I was wondering Santa, if Krampus was real and you met him, what would you do?”

“Hmm, that’s a good question,” I began, as I stood and walked around the table. “Of course, the first thing is that I would remind myself of the Golden Rule.”

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” the elves exclaimed in unison.

“Correct! When you do that, many times people will respond nicely. However, if I met Krampus, I would look him in the eye, stand straight, maintain a comfortable distance, and project a friendly confidence.”

“I don’t think Krampus would know what to do,” Snickers stated as he looked over his shoulder to see me. “How would you react if he got even meaner? Would you be mean back to him?”

“Do you put a fire out by adding more logs?” I asked, not expecting an answer. “I would respond only with kindness. After all, the calmer you act, the easier it is to resolve a situation.”

As the elves nodded in agreement, Tutu spoke up, “I’ve always been told how important it is to listen.”

“You are a wise one Tutu,” I responded. “Too many times people will interrupt each other because they want to talk. You need to listen to what a mean person has to say, and think about what he or she is saying, before responding.”

“Listening helps you understand why they are being so nasty,” Tutu added.

Giving the young elf two thumbs up, I continued. “When you do respond, you need to speak honestly in a clear, calm voice.”

“I almost wish Krampus did exist!” Sully exclaimed. Shocked, all the elves glared at him. “What? All I meant was that if he did exist, and Santa met him, I bet he would change his ways.”

“I agree,” I said before another elf could respond. “I would much rather help someone become a better person. There is good in everyone. Besides, sometimes things go wrong which can make them unkind. If we ignore disagreeable people, we’ll miss out when they decide to share their good side.”

“Though I can’t believe Krampus could have a good side,” giggled Hanna, “I like your advice Santa and will try to always look for the good in someone, even Krampus if I ever meet him.”

As all the elves at the table laughed and got up to leave, I felt proud of their willingness to listen to my story and understand the need for kindness, even towards those who were the most despicable. In my experience, they need it the most.

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 why Santa gives children coal:

Patience – June 15, 2020

Read more about Hanna:

The Lost Elves – February 3, 2020
Me And My Shadow – February 15, 2021

Illustration from Bloomington Brewing Co 

Repeat Day

Going over some reports on my desk, I heard a knock. When I looked up, Pete and Repeat, two of the best elves in quality control, stood at my opened door. “Can we come in?” Pete asked.

“Can we come in?” Repeat duplicated.

With a wave of my hand, I motioned them to enter. As they did, Pete placed a beautifully wrapped present on my desk. “We have a little something for you Santa.”

Again, Repeat said the same thing.

“Well, this is a surprise. What’s the occasion?”

“Nothing special,” Pete began. “We just saw this and thought you would like it.”

Once again Repeat copied what Pete had said, but I didn’t think too much about it, especially since these elves check and double check each other all day long in quality control. I have listened to them repeating each other ever since I met them hundreds of years ago.

Excitedly, I untied the bow and removed the paper. Once unwrapped, I lifted the lid off the box and pushed the tissue aside. Reaching in, I pulled out a hat just like my Christmas hat, only green with white trim and ball. “This is nice!” I exclaimed. “I don’t have a green hat. This will be perfect for some of my casual outfits. Thank you very much.”

“You’re welcome the two elves said in unison. Then Repeat took the hat and the box over to the table in the corner of my office. “Would you like some of Judy’s Hot Cocoa?” I asked keeping a careful eye on Repeat.

“I’d love some,” Pete responded.

Grabbing the pot of hot cocoa that Judy makes for me each morning, I began filling a cup for Pete. Curious about what Repeat was doing, I tried to look out of the corner of my eye, but Pete distracted me with his constant chit chat.

As we sat on the couch to enjoy our cocoa, Repeat came over and set another beautifully wrapped package in front of me. “What’s this?”

“Nothing special,” Repeat said grinning. “We just saw this and thought you would like it.”

“Didn’t Pete just say the same thing after giving me a gift,” I wondered to myself, “but the wrapping is even nicer on this one. What’s going on?” Putting my thoughts aside, I opened the box and found the same hat from the first present. I stared at both of them with a puzzled look on my face.

“We thought it would be fun for you to open your gift twice,” Pete said with a giggle.

“We thought it would be fun for you to open your gift twice,” Repeat echoed.

Before I could say anything else, the two elf friends scurried out the door as they waved and said goodbye, one right after the other. Though I was used to hearing them repeat, I was beginning to think something was up.  “Why wrap the same gift twice for me to open,” I muttered.

Feeling a bit confused, I returned to my work of reviewing the morning’s mail. I began reading a letter from Noah in Indiana, when I heard another knock on the door. Doheny entered with a plate in hand. “Here is your snack for the morning. I made Gingerbread cookies today.”

“Thank you, Doheny. These will taste great with the hot cocoa Judy brought over earlier.”

Doheny placed the plate with a napkin on the corner of my desk, then turned and left the office. Before I could take a bite of my cookie, there was another knock at my door. Doheny entered with another plate in hand. “Here is your snack for the morning. I made Gingerbread cookies today.”

“But you just . . .” I started. However, before I could finish, the best cookie baker at the North Pole was gone.

Leaning back in my chair, I stared at the two cookie plates, then over to the box with the hat Pete and Repeat had given me. I could not find a reason for the way the elves were acting. “I need to talk to Bernard about this. Surely, he will know what’s going on,” I thought aloud. Putting both hands on the edge of my desk, I pushed myself up and headed over to talk with my head elf.

Entering Bernard’s office, I found him seated at a table, fiddling with a model for a new toy. Surprised to see me he asked, “Santa! Did we have an appointment today?”

“No,” I answered and waited to see if he would repeat himself like the other elves had done.

As Bernard and I looked at each other without saying a word, he finally shrugged his shoulders and asked, “What can I do for you, Santa?”

Relieved, I told him of my recent experiences with Pete, Repeat, and Doheny. “Is there something going on with the elves today that I don’t know about?”

“So, you’re experiencing the same things today as well,” Bernard responded laughing. “I thought I was going crazy.” Pointing to the table with the toy model, Bernard continued, “Quinten called me to see if I had looked at this yet, then called back not two minutes later and asked me again, saying the exact same thing as the first time!”

“Are the elves pranking us?” I wondered.

“With all the changes to the production lines in order to make some new toys for this Christmas, do you think the elves are worried about their jobs?” Bernard asked.

“That’s possible,” I replied.

“Maybe you should go see if Sam, your elf in charge of social activities, can put together an event for the elves to relax.”

“Great idea! I knew you would be able to help me out.” I thanked Bernard and headed towards Samantha’s workplace.

Reaching for the door knob to Sam’s office, I was surprised when it opened. Bug-eyed, Sam appeared surprised to see me. “Santa, Santa,” she muttered.

“Are you leaving?” I asked. Without giving her time to respond, I added, “Do you have a couple of minutes for me?”

Sam waved her arm, motioning for me to enter. “Absolutely Santa. Come on in.”

As I walked past Sam and into her office, she repeated, “Absolutely Santa. Come on in.”

I immediately wondered if she was stressed like the other elves, but then dismissed the idea because her duties didn’t include working on any of the toy production lines. Maybe she was repeating herself because the elves were always saying, ‘Play it again Sam’ to her.

Noticing my dazed look, she asked, “What can I do for you?” And again, “What can I do for you?”

Hesitantly, I explained what had been going on with everyone repeating themselves. “I thought it may be because of work related stress,” I stated, “and wondered if there was something you could help me do for the elves to create a relaxing evening.”

“As it happens, I have a movie planned for tonight,” Samantha mentioned. “But the elves are not acting like this because they are worried about work.”

I stood with a blank look on my face, waiting for Sam to repeat herself. This time she didn’t. Instead, she asked, “You don’t know what today is, do you?”

Shrugging my shoulders I responded, “I guess not.”

Grinning from ear to ear, Sam then said, “Today is National Repeat Day! That is why the elves are repeating what they say or do.”

“Now, that makes sense! They are just having fun. What movie will you be showing them tonight to celebrate this Repeat Day?”

“Why there is only one movie made just for this day,” she answered, “Groundhog Day!”

When I did not respond, Sam asked, “Didn’t you ever see the movie about a reporter having to repeat Groundhog Day over and over again?”

“Ho Ho Ho!” I laughed hard enough to make my belly shake. “After spending the day repeating what they say and do, you are going to show them a movie about someone repeating his entire day over and over again! That is so fitting.” I then turned to leave and chuckled as I joined the celebration, “After spending the day repeating what they say and do, you are going to show them a movie about someone repeating his entire day over and over again! That is so fitting.”

Notes From Santa

National Repeat Day is celebrated each June 3rd and today’s story was how the elves celebrated it this year. What kind of things do you find yourself repeating throughout the day? Are there phrases you say or actions? Have you ever done something worth repeating? How about something you never want to repeat again?

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 . . .

Wiggle And Waddle Go Home

“Can you hurry? Wiggle and Waddle need your help!” I said in a nervous voice.

“I am getting my bag ready so I have everything I need when we get there,” Vetter, the North Pole veterinarian, responded without looking up.

Concerned, I began pacing back and forth in front of the door to the animal hospital. I remembered when the penguins became part of our North Pole family two years ago after arriving on an ice sheet that had broken loose while they slept. “I hope our penguin friends will be okay,” I said as I heard Vetter’s medical case snap shut.

“Let’s go see what is going on with those two,” she announced, grabbing her hat and coat.

As we exited the West tunnel, a large group of elves had gathered around Wiggle and Waddle. Gently pushing my way into the crowd to make a path for Vetter, I called aloud, “Please, let us through.”

In the center of the circle, I saw the penguins lying on the snow with Polar Pete, the best tracking polar bear at the North Pole. Nippy, Frosty the Snowman’s cousin, stood beside the two trying to comfort them. When they looked up and saw Vetter, both immediately made room for her to check on Wiggle and Waddle.

Kneeling on the snow she asked, “Can either of you explain what is going on?”

“We’ve had headaches and our muscles keep cramping,” Waddle, the bigger penguin, said as Vetter opened her case and pulled out her stethoscope.

“Don’t forget the vomiting!” Wiggle, the younger of the two, said trying to stand.

“Don’t try to get up,” Vetter began as she examined both penguins. “How long has this been going on?”

“Several days, I guess,” Waddle answered.

“Did you start feeling bad all at once?” Vetter asked looking at both penguins.

“Pretty much,” Waddle explained. “Fine one day and this the next.”

Santa's Friends

Sitting back on his hind legs, Polar Pete interrupted, “That’s not quite true.” Everyone stopped and stared at him as he continued. “You both have been sad and lonely, not to mention how you never want to do anything. It’s just like last June when you were homesick.”

“You may be right Pete,” Vetter said, nodding her head. “If so, the homesickness is worse this time.”

“But they have been here for almost two years,” I began. “Don’t you usually get over it after that long?”

“For most, that would be true Santa,” Vetter responded as she sat on the snow. “A few, however, never get over the feeling, and there is no magic pill to help them.”

Nippy finally spoke up, “What do you mean?”

“I really can’t do anything for them,” Vetter remarked, putting away her stethoscope. “There’s only one solution. They need to return to . . .”

“Don’t even say that!” Nippy exclaimed furiously. “They’re two of my best friends. I don’t know what Pete and I would do without them!”

Putting my arm around Nippy to try and calm him, I explained, “This will be hard on all of us, but think about how much harder it will be for Wiggle and Waddle to remain here.”

I took a step forward and leaned down so both penguins could hear me. “Remember when I offered to take you back to your home in Antarctica after your arrival here? The offer is still good, and if that is what you want, we could leave within the hour.”

The penguin friends stared at each other and Waddle spoke. “Wiggle, I’ve thought a lot about this, and I believe we will go through this every year if we stay.”

“Why?” was all Wiggle could think to say.

“This is the time of year when our colony of penguins grows in size to become a rookery of about 400 thousand,” Waddle stated dropping his head. “I still miss seeing our old friends and finding our special mates to raise children with. I think it’s time to return.”

As Wiggle slumped against a snow drift, I knew Waddle was right and the only thing to do was to get them back home. Turning to scan the gathering of elves, I spotted the one I needed. “Highstep, can you get me a sleigh ready and bring it here?”

Before Highstep could answer, I heard Polar Pete state in a firm voice, “Don’t even think about taking our friends home without Nippy and me going with you!”

Seeing the stern look on Pete’s face, I looked back at Highstep. “Make that my Christmas Sleigh, and I will need all nine reindeer as well. I want to make sure Wiggle and Waddle get the best ride back to Antarctica that we can give them.”

It was not long before Highstep returned with my sleigh. As Polar Pete and Nippy climbed into the back where I usually put my bag of toys and gifts, I motioned to the penguins to climb into the front seat next to me. Once everyone was settled in the sleigh, I snapped the reins and shouted:

Now Dasher, Now Dancer,
Now Prancer and Vixen,
On Comet, On Cupid,
On Donner and Blitzen!

As the reindeer rose into the sky, the sleigh followed. Wiggle and Waddle looked below and began waving to all the elves and Ms. Claus, who had come outside to say farewell to the pair. Though everyone was sad to see them go, I knew it was the right thing to do. Soon we were heading towards the South Pole.

When we arrived, Nippy leaned over the side of the sleigh to get a good view of the seventh continent. “Look at all that ice and snow! There must be a lot of snowmen down there.”

“That’s possible I guess,” I responded. “Even though the Arctic and Antarctica are pretty close in size, Antarctica has about seven times as much snow and ice. It’s much colder . . . “

“There!” both Wiggle and Waddle exclaimed as they pointed down at the Larsen Ice Shelf and the Antarctica Peninsula.

“That’s where we were sleeping when part of the ice shelf broke off. We floated for days before landing at the North Pole,” Waddle recalled.

“Is that our Rookery on the islands at the end of the peninsula?” Wiggle asked his partner.

“It may be. Santa, can you get closer?”

“Absolutely,” I responded as I steered the sleigh in the direction Wiggle had pointed.

“Wow! That’s a lot of penguins!” Polar Pete exclaimed. “Do you think you’ll have much trouble finding your mates?”

Wiggle and Waddle laughed. “We never had a problem before, and I don’t think we’ll have one now,” Waddle replied as we descended to within a couple hundred feet. Hugging one another, the two soon yelled, “We’re home!”

After I landed the sleigh next to the Rookery, we got out to say our good-byes. “I think I speak for everyone at the North Pole when I say we have enjoyed your friendship over the last two years and will miss both of you very much!” I announced, noticing the sad faces.

“We will never forget all that everyone did to make us feel at home in the Arctic, but this is where we belong,” Waddle said gleaming.

As the two penguins walked towards their South Pole friends, Wiggle looked back one last time and waved. “We hope to see you again someday!” he called out.

“Till then, Penguins!” Nippy responded.

When I placed my arms around Pete and Nippy, they were both crying. “It’s sad to see them go; yet, I also am happy for our penguin buddies,” Pete explained shaking his head.

“That’s because you did something especially nice for Wiggle and Waddle when they needed it the most,” I responded with a smile. “Helping others, without wanting or needing anything in return, creates a warm sensation in our hearts.”

“Thanks,” Pete replied. “I never thought of that before. I guess,” Pete continued with a grin, “you, Ms. Claus and the elves must feel that way all the time.”

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 Friends 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
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Antarctica Illustration from Beautiful World
Illustration of Santa’s Friends by FireMane Studio 

RV Camping

“Why so sad Ms. Claus?” I asked noticing Anya’s unhappy face.

“Oh, nothing much Santa,” she replied after closing the door to our apartment. “I guess I’m getting tired of staying in the North Pole.”

“Anya, it’s our home!” I exclaimed, shocked to hear her say that.

“Let me finish,” Anya replied. “And don’t look so hurt. I love our home; you know that,” she explained with a smile. “But sometimes I like to experience what life is like beyond the North Pole. Don’t you?” she asked.

After listening, I sat down and nodded. “Yes, but I think there’s more to this. What have you been watching that has put you into an adventurous mood?” I inquired as my wife began to laugh.

“I rarely can get anything past you, Santa,” she answered while taking a seat next to me. “Last night when you met with Bernard and some of the elves, I watched a special on the National Parks in the United States before going to bed. Such awesome places. It made me want to have another adventure with you Santa, like we did two years ago.”

“I remember that. We visited Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont in the fall. Boy, did we have fun seeing beautiful places and checking out historical sites,” I recalled while taking off my boots.

“Yes, we did,” Anya responded, giving me a sly look, “and I think we need to do it again but try something more adventurous.”

Pushing the button on the side of the couch, I eased back into the recliner to relax. “OK, what did you have in mind?” I asked.

“Camping!”

“WHAT!?” I exclaimed, sitting up suddenly. “Can you see me in a tent? I’m not sure I would ever get comfortable wrapped up in a sleeping bag at night.”

“That would be a sight,” giggled Anya as she gave me a playful shove. “I wasn’t thinking of tent camping; we’re a bit old for that,” she explained, “but what about an RV? It would have most of the conveniences of home and could get us closer to Mother Nature without a problem.”

“You’re serious, aren’t you?”

Nodding, Anya turned to face me. “Honestly Santa,” she replied, “there is so much beauty out there that I think we owe it to ourselves to take advantage of exploring what nature has to offer.”

“Hmm,” I muttered stroking my beard. “It does sound interesting. Sometimes the boys and girls I talk to describe the fun they have with their families while camping. I remember a little girl named Jasmine who talked my arm off about how to make s’mores over a camp fire. Graham crackers, chocolate and roasted marshmallows. It reminded me of the fun the elves have making them here at the North Pole,” I said licking my lips.

“Then there was a little boy named Kevin,” I continued, “who talked about cooking hotdogs and hamburgers over an open fire. He described how tasty they were, especially when his mom made corn on the cob. Definitely need to try that someday …”

“Always thinking of food,” Anya broke in as she stood up and began to pace the room. “I don’t think you realize how much I want to go on a camping adventure with you.”

“I’m sorry, Anya, but you know me and food,” I said while trying to catch her attention. “Besides, you brought up the topic suddenly without giving me a chance to think about it. If you really want to go camping, I guess I could call Joe,” I murmured to myself.

“Who is Joe?” Anya asked as she stopped pacing.

“A very friendly fellow who helped me once long ago. He sells RVs and knows a lot about them. I’m sure he would be willing to help us out,” I said.

Excited, Ms. Claus walked over and gave me a hug adding, “So, when should we start planning?”

“Hold on, Anya,” I replied raising up both hands. “Let’s think about this. It’s late May. Schools will be closing soon, and families will be taking vacations, making the National Parks crowded. Let’s keep this simple and find an interesting place in Kentucky where Joe is located.”

Nodding in agreement, Ms. Claus asked, “That sounds reasonable. Do you have a place in mind?”

“Actually, Anya, I do. A few years ago, I received a letter from a set of twins, Justin and Kristen. They knew exactly what they wanted: hiking boots, hiking sticks, backpacks, and sleeping bags. They were planning to go camping in Kentucky at a place called Natural Bridge State Park with their parents.”

“Well, that’s nice,” answered Anya giving me a strange look, “but what does that have to do with us going camping?”

“I’m getting to that,” I said impatiently. “The twins sent me pictures. The park sits next to a rugged area called Red River Gorge. It was fantastic. Deep woods, arches, cliffs, clear creeks, and plenty of wild flowers. They described how their parents had been taking them there for day hikes since they were little. Now that the two were older, the family wanted to go camping.”

“That’s amazing. I have to admire parents who try to get their children outside to enjoy nature,” Anya commented. “But I still don’t see what that has to do with us.”

“You told me to pick a place,” I answered, smiling, “and Red River Gorge is my choice.”

“YESSSSSS!” exclaimed Anya as she threw her hands in the air. “Finally, we get to go on another adventure together. When do we start planning?”

“Not so fast Anya. Remember, we have to see if Joe can get an RV for us before we can plan anything.”

“Of course, that makes sense,” she responded as a worried look crept across her face. “But do you think you’ll be able to drive an RV? Maybe, we’ll need some magic fairy dust so we can have a safe trip.”

“Wait a minute,” I chuckled. “You’re talking to a man who delivers presents all over the world at Christmas. Driving an RV can’t be any harder than landing my sleigh and team of nine reindeer on all those rooftops.”

“I’m sure it is Santa,” my Ms. Claus remarked. “But if anyone can learn, it’s you,” she finished proudly. “Let’s make it happen.”

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 Santa and Ms. Claus’ adventures:

Just Part of The Family – August 26, 2019
Santa’s Waterpark Adventure – September 9, 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

Super Heroes

Highstep walked out of his office into the barn as part of his daily routine to check on the reindeer. Approaching the stalls, he saw Jonah and Sachi, both experienced elves with the reindeer, leading Olive and Clarice towards the door. “Are you getting Santa’s sleigh ready for his visit?”

The two elves stopped and looking back, Jonah replied, “Yes we are. Sledge brought over Ms. Claus’ sleigh, the Dulcet, for Santa’s visit today.”

“We thought that since these are the reindeer that usually pull the Dulcet, they would be the best for the trip,” Sachi added as she gave Clarice a small piece of a carrot.

“Perfect!” Highstep responded. “Santa should be here in about fifteen minutes.”

As the elves continued walking the reindeer out to the corral, Highstep caught up with them and explained, “You know this is a very special trip for Santa. He is meeting with some Super Heroes to thank them for what they do.”

“Did someone say Super Heroes?” Reiney asked as he looked out from the stall where he was taking care of Cupid. “Boy, I sure would love to go with Santa to meet them!”

“It does sound exciting,” Sachi said. “Maybe he will get to see Wonder Woman. She is my favorite!”

“You’re just saying that because she’s a female super hero,” Jonah said as he waved his hand impatiently.

Putting her hands on her hips, the elf turned and loudly stated, “That is part of the reason. Girls need other female role models as much as you ‘boys’ need male role models.” Everyone fell silent for a moment, fearing that Sachi had been offended by Jonah’s remark.

“If you are really interested,” she continued, “I especially like Wonder Woman because she is a lover of peace, who looks at conflict and fighting as a last resort! Besides, how cool would it be to have the Lasso of Truth so that no one could tell a lie.”

Reiney was quick to respond, “I definitely understand what you see in Wonder Woman, but my favorite is Spider-Man.”

“Hmm” Highstep chuckled, “Could it be that he wears so much red, just like the Big Man himself.”

All the elves began laughing until they heard Reiney yell, “That’s not true! THANKS HIGHSTEP!!”

The others stopped laughing as soon as Highstep put his finger to his lips. “Reiney,” he answered, “you know I was kidding. I just could not resist.”

“Ha ha ha, very funny!” Reiney replied sharply as a grin spread across his lips. “Though I like Spider-Man’s speed, strength, agility and balance, the real reason is his sixth sense or his Spider Sense, as I call it. He can always tell when danger is close by. In fact, I’d like to have all his abilities; then I could avoid your silly jokes.”

“He’s got you there, Highstep,” Jonah laughed as he gave him a playful shove. “The only Super-Hero I would ever want to be is Santa!”

“Did someone mention my name? Glad to see you are all in a good mood,” I said walking into the barn. “Thought I might find most of you here getting the reindeer.” Startled, the elves turned toward me surprised at my early arrival.

“You only said that because you saw Santa coming in, didn’t you?” Highstep said as Jonah smiled widely while shrugging his shoulders.

Sachi was the first to speak. “We know you’re going to visit some super heroes today at the Hall of Justice and we were telling each other who our super heroes are. Mine was Wonder Woman.”

“Ho Ho Ho,” I laughed trying to keep my belly from shaking. “Although I have to admit the Cincinnati Museum Center does look like the Hall, I’m going to the Cincinnati Museum Center to honor the real Super Heroes of their community.”

“I’m confused!” Reiney exclaimed. “Are you saying our Super Heroes are not real?”

“Not at all, but I am talking about those who are making a difference for everyone by doing their daily jobs.” Blank looks on the elves’ faces told me they did not understand. “I’m talking about the teachers, nurses, doctors, firefighters and other first responders. They are the ‘real’ heroes.”

“But it’s their job,” Jonah stated.

“You are right. It is their job, but many of them go above and beyond what is expected of them,” I explained. “Besides, during the pandemic, they would often put the safety of others ahead of their own.”

“I agree with Santa,” reflected Sachi. “A few months ago, I saw on the news how doctors and nurses often didn’t go home. Instead, they stayed at their hospitals and took naps so that they could keep up with those who were sick.”

Nodding in agreement, Reiney smiled. “I remember watching that news show with you and was really impressed when they showed a group of firefighters who worked with the local police to go door to door in their community and distribute food to people who had very little.”

“First responders are fantastic, but Santa, I think you forgot a big group of Super Heroes,” Highstep announced. “What about all the children and adults who volunteered to help those in need?”

“I would never forget about them, and indeed many will be honored at the Museum today. There is a special place in my heart for the children who learn the art of giving early in life, and their parents who teach that to them,” I responded giving the elf a pat on his shoulder.

“Like Greta from Sweden?” Sachi asked.

“YES! She has been trying to get those in charge to take Global Warming more serious and reduce carbon emissions,” I responded. “But there are many more doing things in their own communities. Like Luke who formed a group of his friends to help their elderly neighbors take care of their yards and homes. Or Emily and Tim who collected clothing and food to help other children who were homeless.”

“I bet they get a lifetime appointment to your Nice List!” exclaimed Sachi.

“Now that’s for me to know. What say we get these reindeer hitched to the sleigh so I can go and congratulate all those Super Heroes!”

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 Reiney:

Reiney Meets Cupid – February 10, 2020
Virus Threatens Santa’s Reindeer – March 30, 2020
Blitzen Looses Race – August 31, 2020

Read more about the Sachi:

Dasher Becomes Part of Santa’s Team – October 28, 2019
The Magic of Christmas – October 5, 2020

Read more about the Jonah:

North Pole Vaccinations – March 22, 2021

Changing Times

Grabbing another cup of cocoa, I left the empty dining hall and made my way to the meeting room. I was not looking forward to the discussion about social media. I shook my head and muttered, “Too much of that gets in the way of children having fun or parents playing with their kids. I don’t see the need for it.”

“Talking to yourself Santa?”

Looking up, I smiled as Anya joined me. “Yes, I was. You know how I feel about this meeting.”

“I realize that social media can be crushing for those who don’t understand its value, but Santa, I have never known you to ignore something different that could reach more children and their families,” said Anya as she gave my hand a squeeze. “Be patient dear and listen to what the elves have to say. I don’t think you will be disappointed.”

“I’ll try, but how will something I don’t find useful help me with Christmas? Besides,” I snapped, “I don’t have time for this Instagram and Twitter stuff I’ve been hearing about lately.”

Stopping to give me a hug, Ms. Claus laughed. “Now Santa, the elves have all kinds of skills, and they will give you as much help as you need.” Slipping her arm through mine, Anya urged me to continue down the hall.

Arriving on time, we entered the room and took our seats as Maria opened the meeting. “Santa, before we begin,” she said in her cheerful voice.  “I want you to realize that my team is going to handle most of social media for you. After all, this is more than any person could handle alone.”

“Well, if that’s the case then why do I need to be here?” I answered as I got up to leave.

“Wait a minute, Santa,” Anya responded grabbing my hand and urging me to sit. “You need to at least understand how social media can be useful. Remember, you promised to listen.”

I nodded and took my seat. “This better be good,” I said trying to smile. Maria was my best elf when it came to working with any type of media. I owed it to her and the group to listen, even though I was doubtful.

“As you can see, I have my team ready to take on this new task,” Maria explained, pointing to Becca, Katie, and Brandy, seated at the table. “There are several elves handling the mail we receive from around the world,” she continued, “and I developed a group to do the same with social media. I like to call us your Social Media Advisers.”

“Hmm, I kind of like the sound of that. But I still don’t see why we need to do this.”

“Communication!” Brandy exclaimed. “We need to cover all the ways people, even children, contact one another today. With social media, the children and parents get on their phones or computers and read messages posted on their pages.”

“Why don’t they just visit their friends? I really think they spend too much time on these computer and phone gadgets as it is,” I said becoming a little restless.

In an attempt to calm me, Ms. Claus responded, “Times change dear. As a child, you lived in a small town with other children who lived close by, so it was easy to play together. Today, children sometimes live several miles from their friends, so communicating through social media becomes necessary.”

“If that’s the case, why not write letters. Now that’s a great way to connect with your friends and family,” I insisted. “I can still remember when several countries started service to deliver mail. It was so exciting to receive letters from children!”

Becca was quick to add, “Then around 1876 the telephone was invented . . .”

“I think we are getting off the subject now,” Maria interrupted, leaning forward over the table. “We all appreciate the way it was when we were young and find the new ways somewhat troubling. I don’t think everyone has to totally embrace social media, but we must recognize it as the way of the newer generations.”

“That’s right, Santa,” Ms. Claus began. “Maria and her team will do all the work and provide you with a summary of all the conversations, just like Carter and all these elves do with the letters from the children.”

Maria looked back and forth between Anya and myself and added, “That’s true, but you will also need to give us some stories or thoughts we can post for you.”

“For example, you could write short stories that describe what happens here at the North Pole,” Brandy explained. “Then we would post them or anything else that you may want to tell the children and their parents.”

“Oh, that could be fun Santa,” Ms. Claus said, excitedly rubbing her hands together. “You and I could share stories or events that no one gets to see or hear about because they don’t live at the North Pole.”

“You’re right,” I thought, “but there has to be more to it than those stories.”

“That’s what you have us for,” Katie, another member of the Social Media Advisors, remarked. “We can post pictures, drawings, cookie recipes, and more. The list is as endless as your imagination Santa.”

Giving some thought to all the suggestions, I nodded. “I could even send a quick message to those being good and advice to those struggling to behave, right?”

“YES!” Becca exclaimed, “You’re on the right track, Santa. Our team will follow the use of social media by the boys and girls worldwide and report back to you with what they are doing.”

“So, it will give me even more information to help in deciding who belongs on the nice or naughty list.”

When Maria, and her team of elves nodded in agreement, my wife smiled. “I think you’re beginning to understand, Santa. We could even post pictures of us when we travel to different parts of the world. How much fun would that be!” cried Anya.

“Ms. Claus is right Santa, and Instagram is a good way to post pictures on the Internet to all your friends at once,” Katie said.

I leaned back in my chair and while stroking my beard explained, “I’d still like to see the children playing outside more and with one another instead of looking at a computer screen.”

“Santa, no one is going to argue with you about that,” Anya began as she looked around the table. “But you have always adapted to the new ways as they have come along. This is just another adjustment we all have to make to keep up with the changing times.”

“As always, you are right,” I said looking directly at Ms. Claus. “If these elves are going to handle making the posts and responding to the children, then I’m okay with this social media plan,” I replied grinning.

“You’ll not be sorry, Santa,” Maria announced. “All we ask is that you share with us anything important that that should be shared with the children and parents. Your Social Media Advisors will do the rest.”

Anya held my arm with both hands as we began walking toward the door and whispered, “See it was not that bad. The new S.M.A. team will handle it all so that you can still concentrate on the real business of preparing for Christmas and making the children happy.”

Notes From Santa

Find Cincy Santa (@CincySanta) on:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/CincySanta
Twitter –
https://twitter.com/cincysanta
Instagram –
https://www.instagram.com/cincysanta

To read more about Scout Elves please check out:

Scout Elves Are ComingNovember 4, 2019
Scout Elf ShortageFebruary 17, 2020
Scout Elf PrecautionsSeptember 28, 2020
Invisible Elves – October 19, 2020
Scout Elves Return – November 9, 2020
Elf Uniforms – December 14, 2020
The Tooth Fairy – February 22, 2021

To read about the Mail Room please check out:

Translating Letters For Santa – August 19, 2019
Sensitive Letters – November 18, 2019
A Little Bit of Elf Magic – April 20, 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 Talented Teacher Jobs

Eye in the Sky

“Good morning Santa. Have a seat and I’ll get you some breakfast,” Ms. Claus said as I came into our kitchen.

I gave Anya a hug and kiss. “Sorry, I don’t have time. Quinten in Research and Development promised he would have a prototype of his newest gadget to show me.”

“This must be very important for you to skip breakfast,” Anya stated as she sipped from her favorite tea cup.

“It is!” I exclaimed as I put on my coat and hat. “This could revolutionize the way we handle the Naughty and Nice List. I might be able to see children being good more often, even those who have a hard time behaving. I don’t often get to see that.”

“I love the idea!” exclaimed Anya. “Besides, if it frees up some of your time during the season, I’m all for it,” she remarked, holding a donut in front of me.

“That’s very tempting,” I began as I licked my upper lip, “but I really do need to get over to see what Quinten has for me.” As I opened the door to leave, I looked back at Anya. “Maybe you could save that for me to have later?”

“Of course, I will!” she exclaimed, adding, “See you at lunch.”

I made my way down the hall of the Administration Building and out the door into the courtyard. Walking along the path, I could hear the sound of a fly or bee. “A little early for insects at the North Pole,” I said in a soft voice as I approached Quinten’s Lab.

Entering the workshop, I hung my coat and hat on the rack by the door and turned to face Quinten. “I expected you to be busy on this project,” I remarked, excitedly rubbing my hands together. “Does this mean you are finished?”

“Well, I’m not quite ready for mass production,” answered Quentin smiling, “but I can give you a demonstration.”

“This is all I’ve been able to think about lately. Please, show me what you have.”

After Quinten left his work bench, I followed him to another area in the corner of the lab. Sitting in front of several computer monitors, Quentin entered commands on the keyboard.

As the monitors came to life, a film of me showed up on the largest screen. “I was hoping to see more than just a movie of me walking through the courtyard,” I stated looking at Quinten.

Ignoring my comment, he hit a button on the keyboard. Over the speakers I heard myself whispering, “A little early for insects at the North Pole.”

“That’s . . . that’s . . . that’s . . .” I began stuttering.

“Yes, that’s you as you strolled over here just now,” Quinten quickly responded. Then he hit another button, and the screen showed me sitting in front of the monitor with my mouth wide open. “How?” was all I could say, as I looked around for a camera.

“Well Santa, I managed to use some of the technology of drones and added in a little bit of AI . . .”

“AI?”

“Artificial Intelligence.” Quinten waited a moment for me to gather my thoughts and then continued. “The trick was getting everything into a small enough package so no one would notice it.”

“Then the buzzing noise that I heard was it?” I asked.

“It sure was. But you never saw the device, did you?”

“No, I didn’t.”

While Quinten entered a few more commands, he described what his creation could do. Pointing to another monitor, he showed Doheny hard at work making a batch of fresh cookies. “We can also have these track people automatically. Watch this.” Once the tech savvy elf spoke, he clicked the mouse. The view on the monitor shifted as the gadget moved through the kitchen and settled over Blanche, who was making chocolate chip pancakes for the elves’ breakfast. “I can program one of these to watch as many as five different people,” remarked Quentin.

“So, I could look in on children all year long without making a visit or sending a Scout Elf?”

“That’s right Santa. You could spy on them anytime you want!”

“Spy! I don’t spy!”

“I’m sorry Santa. It’s just a figure of speech,” Quinten said grinning.

“That’s my only hesitation. This device is not just about observing,” I explained. “The children already know their Scout Elves are watching and will be reporting back to me, which makes them reluctant to do things while the elves are present.”

“I understand,” Quinten said. “So, what did you have in mind?”

“Hmm,” I muttered, trying to gather my thoughts. “I had hoped this device would capture the children being good unaware,” I said while stroking my beard. “In addition, I’d like to watch the actions of those who misbehave but have a change of heart and later apologize or try to make up for their bad deeds. That says a lot about them.”

“I like that idea Santa,” Quentin responded smiling. “I believe I can make that happen. This device will be a huge help to you. To make it happen, however, my staff and I need to test it on a huge number of children to see how it will actually work.”

We both fell silent as we thought about this new system operating on a large scale.

Getting up from the stool, I started pacing back and forth while looking at the monitors. Then it came to me, and I snapped my fingers. “Could you and your team make several hundred of these within a few weeks?” I asked.

“Since it’s the off season for toy production, I believe Bernard could make that happen. What are you thinking?”

I reached in front of Quinten and began an Internet search. After a few clicks I asked, “Can you make them look like this?” and pointed to a picture on one of the monitors.

“A Cicada?”

“Exactly! You see the 17-year Cicada will emerge in about 15 states in America around the middle of May and last about six weeks.”

“Why didn’t I think of that? With all those cicadas flying around no one would ever notice our . . .” Quinten paused for a moment not knowing what to call his invention.

“I was thinking Scout Bug,” I said. “They will basically be doing the same work as our Scout Elves, only they are mechanical bugs.”

“No – NO – NO!” Quentin cried excitedly, throwing his hands in the air. “There is only one name for these. We’ll call them ‘CICADA CAMS!’”

Jumping up from my seat, I bellowed, “That’s it. Let Operation Cicada Cam begin!”

“Just think of all the good things we will get to see the children doing as they play outside,” Quinten added.

“And the children will have no idea some of those little ‘cicadas’ will be working for me.”

“Santa, with the billions of cicadas expected this year, they will never be able to find a Cicada Cam!”

Before I could respond, Quinten was off to complete Operation Cicada Cam. Taking a deep breath and exhaling, I wondered aloud, “Now how do I get this one to stop following 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 . . .

Read more about the Scout Elves:

Scout Elves Are Coming – November 4, 2019;
Scout Elf Shortage – February 17, 2020;
Scout Elf Precautions – September 28, 2020;
Invisible Elves – October 19, 2020;
Scout Elves Return – November 9, 2020;
Elf Uniforms – December 14, 2020;
The Tooth Fairy – February 22, 2021;

Read more about Qunten:

Santa’s Improved Sleigh – March 16, 2020;
Reindeer vs Technology – June 1, 2020;

Land Of The Mystic – March 29, 2021;

Illustration by  Clipart Of

Is Santa Retiring?

Standing just inside the dining hall, Lyra began searching the room.  When she caught a glimpse of Bernard at a table near the fireplace, the elf quickly made her way over to the table. “Has anyone seen Santa?” she asked.

“Well hello Lyra,” Bernard responded. “What can I do for you?”

Concerned, Lyra took a seat and looked at Bernard. “I thought he was supposed to be back two days ago.”

“True,” Bernard replied as he turned to face Lyra, “but he called to let me know that his meeting with one of the J.A.T.S. (Jolly Assistants to Santa) in Cincinnati was taking longer. He said he would not return until next week. Why so concerned? Has something happened?”

Lyra shook her head. “Nothing’s wrong. But at breakfast before he left, I overheard Santa telling Ms. Claus that he was retiring.”

“WHAT!” exclaimed Bernard as the elves at the table stopped eating. “Santa retiring!?”

While the whispering of Santa’s retirement made its way around the dining hall, all the elves looked at Lyra.

“Since you seem to know more than I do, please explain,” demanded Bernard in an agitated voice.

“I’m sorry Bernard,” Lyra responded as she hesitated to stand and face the elves. “After he mentioned retiring, Ms. Claus nodded. She didn’t even seem surprised. Then he kept going on about how this Santa Pat was the best and how no one would be able to tell if he was the real Santa or a J.A.T.S.”

Shocked by what Lyra had said, some of the elves placed their hands over their mouths in total surprise; others began discussing the matter among themselves. After Bernard silenced everyone, he described what he knew. “It is true that he’s meeting with Santa Pat, but that’s to discuss future training. You must have misunderstood him. There is no way Santa is retiring,” he finished in a somber voice.

“I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss this,” Faer, coordinator of the J.A.T.S., said. “Santa has been asking a lot of questions about the J.A.T.S. and which of them could pass themselves off as being the real Santa.”

All the elves were silent for a moment to ponder what had just been said. Then Telsa, the elf in charge of communications, spoke. “Maybe there is some truth to this. The day before Santa left on his trip, he asked me to call Gwendolyn, the Queen of the Snow Fairies.”

Bernard was quick to respond by saying, “He calls her all the time to make sure he has enough Magic Fairy Dust. That doesn’t prove anything.”

“But Santa did not want to know about any dust,” Telsa said as she stood up to address the elves. “He specifically asked me to find out if in the future he could bring someone with him to Ferrishyn, where the Snow Fairies live, to meet her. When I asked what he had in mind, all he said was that he might return from his trip with a visitor.”

Lyra jumped out of her chair. “See! He is bringing back someone to train to take his place!”

Bernard shushed the elves and told Lyra to sit down. “I’m sure there are good reasons for all of this. These are just coincidences. Why would Santa want to retire? He always says it is the best job anyone could ask for.”

“You know Bernard,” Sledge announced as he raised his voice, “we made a lot of improvements to Santa’s sleigh last year to help make it easier for him . . .”

“I think we all know that Sledge!” Bernard exclaimed. “What does that have to do with him retiring?”

“I was about to say,” explained Sledge, “that when he returned from his Orthodox Christmas deliveries on January 7th, Santa remarked that he wished Christmas deliveries to families in 120 countries was as easy as the Orthodox Christmas when he only delivered to 18 countries.”

“But Santa always says that,” complained Bernard.

“I agree with you,” said Sledge, “so I thought he was joking and ignored it. However,” he continued as he rubbed his chin while thinking, “I overheard Santa mutter how a warm beach was looking pretty good in the future. I don’t think he ever said that before.”

As Sledge finished, all the elves slumped in their chairs. No one said a word as they hung their heads.

Walking into the dining hall, I was surprised at the glum faces and made my way to Bernard’s table where he was sitting with many of his closest friends. “Did something happen while I was gone?” I asked startling the group. “It’s lunchtime and everyone is quiet.”

Sitting up straight, the elves looked puzzled and shocked. Bernard was the first to regain his composure and asked, “I thought you weren’t coming home until next week?”

“I thought so as well, but I completed my business sooner than I thought and decided to return.”

Telsa was looking toward the door, as if expecting to see someone else. Turning, she asked, “Did you bring one of your J.A.T.S. back with you?”

“Absolutely not! We all know that we do not allow visitors here at the North Pole. Why would you think that?”

Faer sheepishly raised his hand. When I looked at him, he began, “You’ve been asking a lot about the best J.A.T.S., and we thought you were going to bring one back to train so you could retire.”

“RETIRE! Ho Ho Ho! Now how did you get that idea in your elfin heads?” I asked looking at everyone in the room.

Without raising her head off the table, Lyra began to speak. “Well I guess. . . “

“Lyra you are going to have to look at me so I can hear you.”

The little elf obeyed and stood up to tell her story. “Last week, before you left on your trip, I sat at the table next to you and Ms. Claus.”

“Yes, I remember. We sat right here near the fireplace,” I responded and pointed to the table.

Nodding, she continued, “Well, I overheard you telling Ms. Claus that you were going to retire and that someone called Santa Pat was coming to the North Pole because you thought he would be the best person to replace you.”

“Hmm, I see,” I said stroking my beard. “As I recall that’s not exactly what I said Lyra.”

Blushing, the elf sat down quickly and buried her head in her arms.

“True, I did talk about Santa Pat, but it was concerning his retirement from the J.A.T.S. I also mentioned that he was one of the best at representing me when I could not visit with someone during the season and that he would be hard to replace.”

All the elves perked up now that they knew the real story. Then Bernard looked at Lyra and said, “You had us all convinced that Santa was going to retire. We were worried,” he finished softly.

“Lyra,” I began as I pulled a chair over to sit next to her.

“Yes,” she answered raising her head up to face me. “I’m sorry Santa.”

“I know you are,” I replied patting her arm. “Considering what you thought you heard, I’m sure you really believed I was going to retire. This is exactly how rumors get started. I know how much you love trying to help everyone. Your heart is always in the right place, and I love you for that. But you need to learn not to eavesdrop on someone else’s conversation.”

“I know Santa. I will try to do better from now on,” Lyra responded reaching over to give me a kiss on the cheek.

“Besides, if the elves, Ms. Claus, or I think you need to know something, we will tell you. OK?”

Smiling, Lyra nodded and added, “I’m really happy that I got it all wrong. The North Pole would not be the same without you running things.”

I could see all the elves nodding in agreement. “You have nothing to worry about, I announced. “I love this job and have no intentions of ever giving it up!” Then all the other elves got up and joined Lyra in a group hug with me.

Notes From Santa

To read more about Lyra please check out:

How Rudolph Got His Red Nose – September 2, 2019;
Flying High – July 29, 2019;
The Lost Elves – February 3, 2020;
New North Pole Residents – March 9, 2020;
Lyra and Her Dogs – January 11, 2021;
I Think We Can – February 1, 2021;
A Surprise For Bernard – March 1, 2021;
Land Of The Mystic – March 29, 2021;

To read more about the J.A.T.S. please check out:

Santa’s Summer Exploration – August 5, 2019;
J.A.T.S. Training – March 2, 2020;
The White Feather – May 18, 2020;
The Real Santa – August 17, 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 Growth Business UK 

What Did You Say?

With Christmas being eight months away, it was quiet in the mailroom. As a handful of elves worked on sorting the mail, Babble was busy translating some of the letters at his desk.

“Good morning,” I said as I walked up to his desk.

“What a nice surprise to see you Santa,” Babble replied as he looked up from his work.

“You do not have many letters to translate today,” I stated, seating myself in front of his desk.

“Definitely not like it is during the season. We should have today’s stack to you before your mid-morning snack,” Babble responded with a huge smile.

Nodding with pride, I marveled at Babble’s skills. After learning 80 languages, he made quick work of translating letters. “I often wish,” I said shaking my head, “that I could speak and write more languages.”

“Why? If you did, I might soon be out of a job,” Babble responded grinning. “Besides there are 196 countries and 7,117 different spoken language, yet that number is steadily decreasing.”

“That’s amazing! Which one is the hardest to translate?” I wondered aloud.

“English,” Babble said leaning forward and placing his arms on his desk.

Surprised by his answer, I twisted my head a bit and repeated, “English? As a universal language, wouldn’t it be the easiest?”

“You might think that, but since it is spoken by so many people from different countries, some words have various meanings not only from country to country, but also within the same country.”

When I scratched my head, Babble could see I was confused and pointed to my chest. “You are wearing a good example.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Your braces, of course.”

“My braces? I have never had to wear braces on my teeth, and if I did, they certainly would not be on my chest!” I exclaimed laughing.

Chuckling, Babble explained, “In the US you would be right. Suspenders are holding up your pants, but in Great Britain they are called braces.”

“Imagine that,” I replied. “Never thought much about changes in language.”

Shuffling a few papers on his desk, Babble held up a letter from a child in England. “Here is another example. This little girl wrote to ask about your favorite biscuit.”

“I know this one!” I bellowed. “In England a biscuit is a cookie, while in America they are small, soft bread usually eaten with breakfast.”

After controlling his giggling, Babble responded, “I shouldn’t be surprised that you would understand words that have to do with cookies.”

“Since that is my favorite food group,” I chuckled, “you’re right!”

Walking over to join us, Carter, manager of the mailroom, said, “I overheard your conversation about cookies and biscuits and started getting hungry. J’eet?”

“WHAT!? Speak English!” I exclaimed throwing my hands in the air.

Grinning, Carter said, “I am.” Placing a hand on my shoulder, he continued, “J’eet is how they say, ‘Did you eat?’ in Oklahoma. Working in the mailroom and translating letters, I’ve read a lot of strange things over time and have learned how English can change.”

Knowing what Carter meant, but still wanting to have fun with me, Babble responded, “Please?”

Carter nodded and answered, “Why certainly!” Then he repeated what he had just said.

Peering at the two elves blankly, I finally said, “OK, I give up. “Babble, why did you respond with ‘Please?’ Were you trying to show kindness to Carter?”

“‘Please’ is an expression people in Cincinnati, Ohio often use when they are not sure what was said, or when responding ‘yes’ to someone,” Babble responded.

“This is all too confusing,” I stated shaking my head.

“You mean you are all Kattywampus?” Carter insisted.

“What Carter means to say, Santa, is that you are discombobulated,” Babble remarked laughing.

Seeing the glazed look on my face, Carter offered an explanation. “’Kattywampus’ is how people in South Dakota say that you’re confused, or as Babble said, ‘discombobulated,’ which is a real word.”

Sighing, I stood up. “I don’t know how mail elves keep up with all the languages and slang.”

Walking toward the door, I heard the elves call my name. When I turned to face them, Carter said, “If you are going outside for a walk don’t forget your coat.”

“It’s brick,” Babble added quickly with a twinkle in his eyes.

“WHAT!?” I exclaimed, again throwing my hands into the air.

“That’s what people from Massachusetts say when it’s very cold,” Babble responded.

Giving them a thumbs up, I added, “Glad I have you to interpret for me,” and headed down the hall.

Lost in thought, I entered the dining room, grabbed some lunch, and began to eat while waiting for Ms. Claus.

“What’s on your mind Snoopy?” Anya asked, as she sat beside me.

Confused by her question, I examined Anya’s face. “Do I remind you of the dog from the ‘Peanuts’ cartoon, or are you trying to tell me that I am nosy?”

“Heavens no Santa!” she exclaimed. “Snoopy is what many people in Pennsylvania call a person who just pushes his food around on his plate instead of eating it.”

“Not you too!” I exclaimed as I put my fork down and leaned back in my chair.

“Whatever are you talking about? Did something happen today that I should know about?”

“I stopped by the mailroom to check on things this morning,” I explained staring at the ceiling. “Babble and Carter shared some words and phrases that made me feel bewildered.”

“Santa, you have so many things that need your attention, I would not expect you to keep up with all the slang words and phrases.”

“But what if a child uses those words when I’m talking with them?”

“Has that ever happened?” Anya wanted to know.

I hooked my thumbs on my suspenders and thought for a moment. “Not yet.”

“So why worry about it. The elves in the mail room, especially Babble, have you covered. No one person can do and be everything.”

“I guess you’re right,” I said sheepishly.

“Over the years,” Anya replied reaching over to squeeze my hand, “you have picked the right elves for every position here at the North Pole. Now you need to trust them to do their jobs, while you concentrate on what you do best: spreading Christmas cheer.”

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 Babble:

Translating Letters For Santa, which was posted on August 19, 2019

Read more about Carter and the Mail Room:

Santa’s Christmas Visits, which was posted on October 21, 2019
Ms. Claus Gets Some Help, which was posted on November 11, 2019
Sensitive Letters, which was posted on November 18, 2019
Scout Elf Shortage, which was posted on February 17, 2020
Lost Fairy Dust, which was posted on May 11, 2020
Santa’s Favorite Elf, which was posted on September 7, 2020
Scout Elf Precautions, which was posted on September 28, 2020