“What’s that aroma?!” I exclaimed. “It reminds me of …”
“Christmas,” my wife answered as we made our way towards our room. “It’s that time of year when the kitchen elves polish their baking skills in preparation for the season.”
“Then it must be October,” I replied again inhaling that wonderful smell. Grabbing Anya’s hand, I steered her toward the kitchen. The fragrance of baking cookies and pastries spread the closer Ms. Claus and I came to the dining area.
“Why Santa and Ms. Claus, it’s so nice to see you this time of night,” greeted Blanch who managed the kitchen and dining room. “I can’t imagine what caught your attention.” She winked and opened the kitchen door.
“AMAZING!” I exclaimed as my eyes scanned the room. Elves were everywhere wearing aprons and mixing ingredients. “I don’t think we have ever witnessed such a flurry of baking skills.”
“I never realized how many elves got involved in this activity,” remarked Ms. Claus.
“For ages my staff created new recipes for Christmas cookies, pies, and cakes,” Blanche described. “This year, I decided to open it up to all elves as long as they signed up for baking time. I was shocked to see how many were interested. Now I keep the kitchen open late into the evening.”
Skimming my eyes around the kitchen, I chuckled. “Aren’t those the twin elves, Scotty and Bryan, who make wooden toys?” I asked pointing in their direction.
Nodding, Blanche led us to them. Weaving our way through all the work stations, Anya and I noticed the concentration on the faces of the elves. However, they paid no attention to the amount of flour and sugar that powdered the floor. Nor did they mind the culinary clutter of butter, eggs, and a variety of spices that littered the tables.
Soon whispers of “Santa and Ms. Claus are in the kitchen” slipped through the room as many elves stopped to watch us. Arriving at Scotty and Bryan’s table, we remained quiet as they cracked three eggs and added them to the batter. “Santa! Ms. Claus! We didn’t see you standing there. Sorry.”
“No problem,” I said. “Ms. Claus and I wondered what you two were making. I can see the cup of raisins and a cup of walnuts you intend to add. What is the name of your creation.”
“Granny’s Surprise,” Scotty announced proudly. “It’s a coffee cake recipe our Gram gave us ages ago, but I’m not sure if we remember it correctly. It tasted awful the first time we made it.” Embarrassed, the twins dropped their eyes to avoid looking at us.
Blanche nodded. “It was pretty bad. No one liked it, so I encouraged them to try again. This time,” she explained, “it even smells better,” and patted both of them on the back.
As I stuck my finger into the bowl to get a taste of the batter, Ms. Claus slapped my hand. “Santa! What do you think you are doing?”
“I just wanted to see if it was as good as it smelled. Every baker needs a taster, and I consider myself one of the best,” I answered and licked the batter from my finger. “Wow! “I exclaimed, “I’m glad you didn’t give up. I can’t wait to sample your coffee cake.”
Blushing, Bryan raised his head and grinned. “Thanks Santa. We’ll be sure to save you and Ms. Claus a piece.”
“We appreciate that,” Anya replied, “especially since we are looking forward to tasting Granny’s Surprise.” Then glaring at me, she added, “When it’s finished.”
Winding our way through the room, Anya spotted Wanda, a new elf who worked in the doll-making workshop. As soon as she pulled out a sheet of cookies from the oven, the scent was overpowering. “It feels like Christmas,” my wife whispered.
Wanda smiled, “I agree Ms. Claus. My mom would make a batch of these when a family member became sad.”
“Ho! Ho! Ho! I can see why, Wanda. Even a scent of Christmas can bring joy to those who believe,” I remarked.
“Wait till you taste them,” the elf announced. Lifting two of them from the tray, she gave one to my wife and me.
“Oh my!” murmured Anya as her eyes closed after taking a bite.
“Fantastic!” I shouted while the vision of a decorated pine tree flashed into my head.
“I’m not only smelling Christmas, but feeling it as well,” Anya explained. “How did you do that?”
“In the old country, we take Christmas to another level. We use the five senses – sight, taste, smell, touch and hearing- and merge them into everything we make. By combining taste and smell, my mom enabled those who ate one of her cookies to see Christmas in their minds and find joy in their hearts. Pretty special,” she ended. Nibbling one of her cookies, she smiled.
“Do you mind sharing your mom’s recipe?” I asked.
“Do you mind sharing how you have been able to spread so much joy for hundreds of years?” Wanda replied with a twinkle in her eye.
I shook my head and sighed. “You’re right, some things have to remain a secret. Looks like I will have to wait for you to make these cookies to enjoy them. Thank you, Wanda, for this magical gift.”
Notes From Santa
I hope you enjoyed today’s story. I will post another one on Saturday October 15th. 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 the next time . . .
To read more about the North Pole Kitchen please check out:
With a Little Help From My Friends – July 1, 2019
Not All Candy Canes Are The Same – July 22, 2019
The Great Cookie Bakeoff – July 6, 2020
Elf Secrets – November 30, 2020
Cookie Problems – December 1, 2021
Wearing The Green – March 15, 2022
Find Cincy Santa (@CincySanta) on:
Illustration by Fife Today