Santa and Ms. Claus Go On Vacation

After looking over the production reports from Bernard, I leaned back in my desk chair. The scent of pine, from a candle my wife Anya gave me, filled the air, and I started thinking about the beauty of the areas south of the North Pole. Then the thought of Anya and I making one last trip to relax before the hectic season began, popped into my head.

Jumping up out of my chair, I walked over to Bernard’s office and found Chumley sitting on the couch talking with Bernard. They had several candy canes spread out on the coffee table in front of them. I interrupted. “Bernard, I was hoping to talk with you a bit, but it looks like you’re busy. When would be a good time for us to talk?”

“Now is a good time. Chumley and I just finished going over the new flavors of candy canes he has developed, and have the production schedule all set up for this Christmas. Before we talk though, you have to taste this new flavor.” Bernard picked up a candy cane from the table and handing it to me he said, “It’s Oreo cookie flavored! I think you might like it.”

I took the candy cane, unwrapped the end of it and took a small bite. As it crunched between my teeth, the Oreo flavor began to fill my mouth. “Oh, my goodness. This is fantastic. It’s like having a piece of candy and a cookie at the same time! The children are going to love this one Chumley.”

Bernard smiled broadly and moved from the couch to his desk. Pointing to the chair on the other side, he said, “Have a seat Santa.”

“Thanks. I just finished reading your reports, and with December just a couple months away, I wanted to be sure our toy shops will be able to make all the toys we need for Christmas.”

“Santa, we are in the best shape at this time than we have ever been.” Nodding to Chumley who was gathering the candy canes from the table, he continued, “Chumley was the last supervisor I had to meet with, and all the departments are ahead of schedule.”

Leaning back in the chair, I responded, “That’s good news. I was hoping that maybe Ms. Claus and I could take a couple weeks to relax and prepare ourselves for all the upcoming visits to homes, malls, and museums to see the children before the big night.”

“That sounds like a great idea. Everything is under control here. Have you given any thought as to where you might go?”

“Ms. Claus really enjoys seeing the trees turn colors, so I thought maybe Massachusetts, Maine, or even Vermont.”

Chumley immediately jumped up, knocking all the candy canes onto the floor and shouted, “Vermont!” Realizing he should not have broken into our conversation he apologized, “I’m sorry! I know it was not my place to say anything, but when you mentioned Vermont, all I could think of was Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream.”

“Vermont reminds you of ice cream?” I asked.

“Well, Ben & Jerry’s is in Vermont and they are my heroes. As the candy cane flavor developer, I always try to be like them. They are the best when it comes to creating new unusual flavor combinations. I especially love their Chunky Monkey flavor!”

“I always wondered who inspired you. Now I know,” Bernard remarked.

Jumping in, I explained, “Well if we end up in Vermont, I will be sure to stop and see them, just for you Chumley.” Turning back to Bernard, I continued, “Well if you are sure everything is under control, then I am going to talk with Ms. Claus and make some plans for a little trip.”

“We are good, and I hope you and Ms. Claus enjoy your getaway. You both deserve some time off before the big rush!” Bernard responded.

The possibility of the trip got me so excited, that I finally understood how children felt when they woke up on Christmas morning. Walking faster, I headed to the mail room where I last saw Anya.

Arriving there quickly, I noticed her talking with Babble at her desk. Looking up she immediately saw my big grin and smiled saying, “Your face tells me you’re up to something Santa. Am I right?”

“You are Anya!” I responded. Sitting in the chair in front of her desk I continued, “I just talked with Bernard and everything is going smoothly, so I thought we would take a little vacation before the season begins. You interested?”

“You bet I am! I was hoping you would want to do this. What about going to the North East in the United States?”

“That’s what I was thinking. We could do some history touring in Boston, and maybe even go whale watching.”

“That sounds like fun, but I really want to see the leaves turning colors.”

“No problem. I think we should visit Vermont then. Chumley asked if we could check out a place called Ben & Jerry’s for him. Seems they make different flavors of ice cream.”

“That is so Chumley. He is all about new flavors. When did you want to go?”

“I say we leave tomorrow. I’ll have Birdie, the elf in charge of the Scout Elves, talk to some of our J.A.T.S. (Jolly Assistants To Santa) to see if we can stay with some of them while we travel.”

“Great! They could also tell us the best places to go see.”

“It’s a date then. Let’s try to wrap up early today, so we have time to pack for the trip tonight.”

Smiling, Anya reached across her desk and giving my beard a yank, she pulled me closer, and gave me a huge hug and kiss. “We are going to have so much fun together!”

Note from Santa:

I hope you enjoyed today’s story. For the next few weeks, I will be posting stories about our adventure. Until next week . . .
Illustration by FireMane Studio

Santa’s Water Park Adventure

The hum of laughter dominated Elf Hall as Santa’s elves filed into the theater. Ms. Claus soon walked down the aisle behind them waving.

“So good to see all of you tonight,” she said taking her place on stage. Ms. Claus then pressed the remote. Suddenly the image of a large pool of water with people bobbing in tubes appeared.

“Are they crazy? What’s wrong with them?” yelled many of the elves.

Laughing, Ms. Claus touched the remote several times to show how much fun everyone was having. “I love to surprise you with pictures of the adventures that Santa and I have while traveling,” she began. “But, does anyone know what this is?”

Some of the elves had strange looks on their faces, but others smiled and raised their hands.

One elf stood up. “I know children take baths, but this is too big to be a bathtub. And why are they sitting in tubes half-dressed. Aren’t they cold?” Embarrassed, he sat down.

Finally, Alex, one of the Scout elves, laughed and jumped up to explain. “You have it all wrong. People swim in big pools like this one. I think this is a picture of a wave pool.”

Before the murmuring got out of hand, Ms. Claus thanked both elves and added, “Scout elves get a chance to see things when watching their children. Many of you, however, remain at the North Pole to help Santa. Alex is right; this is a wave pool. The temperature that day was 88 degrees, and everyone in the picture is cooling off.”

Clicking the remote again, Ms. Claus flashed a picture of Santa in his red trunks, red and white striped shirt, and red sun hat. Wearing sunglasses, he had smiled at the camera, while bobbing with the rest of the people in a tube. Laughter flooded the room when the elves saw the pictures of their boss.

Suddenly, Ms. Claus heard, “But what do people think of you and Santa having fun in the water?” Orin, a tall elf, stood up. Pushing his thick black-rimmed glasses into place, he waited for an explanation.

Ms. Claus flicked the remote again. Watching his skeptical face, she explained, “Notice in this picture how Santa and I are taking a break from the water and sun along with other people who are relaxing on lounge chairs under big umbrellas. Now don’t you think this would be a perfect time for people to ask Santa questions about the North Pole, the Nice and Naughty list, and the reindeer?”

Confused, Orin sadly said, “I know that we think humans want to talk to Santa, but no one is in the picture. I don’t understand.”

“Yeah,” exclaimed Bridgett, an older elf who did not like when Santa was snubbed. “They have the perfect chance to talk one-on-one with Santa, but they’re just sitting there ignoring him. That’s just plain rude. They deserve to be on the Naughty List.”

Ms. Claus hated when her pictures showed the truth about how Santa was often treated by others. “Orin and Bridget, I love your comments, but look at this one,” she remarked. The picture showed a little boy and girl in their chairs.

Suddenly the elves gasped. “They are looking up the aisle at Santa,” exclaimed Orin. Then he turned towards those who sat beside him and began to explain about the angle of the children’s heads.

Excited, Bridget stood up again, this time with a grin on her face. “You’re right Orin. You can see the little girl’s finger pointing toward Santa.”

“You are so right,” Ms. Claus exclaimed. “When I noticed them looking in our direction, I whispered, ‘They believe you are Santa.’ He got up, walked in their direction, and knelt on one knee next to their lounge chairs. Then, he pointed up towards me. I waved. Smiling, the boy and girl waved back.”

“Later he told me that they were Hannah and Nate. Both were excited to see Santa at King’s Island. Of course, they told him what they wanted for Christmas and promised to be good. When they left, they stopped by our chairs and said, ‘Bye Santa and Ms. Claus.’ I can tell you; it made our day.”

Orin, who was still standing, finally asked the question that no elf in the hall wanted to ask. “Why don’t all people believe in Santa?”

No one made a sound. “I’m not sure how to explain this, but I’ll try,” Ms. Claus began. “All of you understand that children know Santa when they see him. Unfortunately, many grown-ups don’t. Santa and I have talked about this change often and have no idea what causes it. Yet I can tell you that something marvelous happens to many adults a few months before Christmas, especially to parents who have children. They begin to feel the Christmas Spirit and spread it around their neighborhoods. They are kinder towards one another and more generous to those who don’t have much. They even tell stories and sing songs about Santa and Ms. Claus, his elves and reindeer, and the North Pole. Now mind you, not all people do this, but those who feel the Christmas Spirit make a difference.”

When the applause increased and the elves laughed and hugged one another, Ms. Claus knew that she had found the right words. Then the door to the hall opened to Santa’s wide smile as his Ho Ho Ho was heard throughout the room.

Note 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 . . .

Illustration by FireMane Studio

How Rudolph Got His Red Nose

I was standing with Highstep, the elf in charge of the reindeer, watching Rudolph playing with some of the younger reindeer, when I asked, “Remember when he was a newborn and we first gave him red fairy dust to see if he could fly?”

“I sure do! All he wanted, was to be on your team with Donner, his daddy.”

“You had been giving him a pinch of red fairy dust for five days, and he tried so hard to fly! He just never got the hang of it,” I said.

“No, he didn’t. I gave up on him ever being able to fly. Then Lyra decided to help!”

#      #      #      #

Eighty years ago, in 1939, Lyra had gone to the pasture where the young reindeer usually play. She heard about Donner’s new son Rudolph, and was excited to see if he was flying.

Rudolph was easy to spot. He was climbing up to the top of a small shed. At the top, he jumped off, and fell into a snow drift. Lyra watched while he jumped off the shed at least 10 times!

Lyra began feeling sorry for him. Then she recalled the time she saw the Neverland Fairies deliver a bag of dust that she mistook for sprinkles. Bernard, the head elf, and I told her that we give the reindeer red fairy dust so that they can fly.

If Rudolph got just a little more fairy dust, he might be able to fly and join the team with Donner,” she thought. Then she whispered to herself, “I think this is the day the fairies deliver dust to Santa. Maybe I can get some for Rudolph.”

She headed for my office in the administration building, hoping she might catch the fairies delivering the dust. She noticed two fairies carrying a bag just outside the door and asked them, “Is that Santa’s red fairy dust?”

“It is,” said one of the fairies. “We need to put it in Santa’s safe.”

“There is a new reindeer that is learning to fly and he needs to get some dust right away.” Walking toward the fairies, she continued, “If you give me the bag, I will take it to Santa and Highstep for the new reindeer.”

“I don’t know about that. We were given specific instructions to make sure the bag of dust gets into Santa’s safe.”

“But if you let me take it to him, you will save Santa from having to come over to his office and walking back to the stables.”

“I guess that would be okay, as long as you are sure you will take it right to Santa and the reindeer.”

“I promise.”

The fairies gave Lyra the bag and flew off. She headed back to the pasture with a grin, pleased with herself for what she was about to do.

She put the bag of dust on the ground, and reached inside her backpack for a teaspoon.

While looking for the spoon in her backpack, she did not notice that Rudolph opened the bag and poked his snout inside.

Finding her spoon, Lyra looked up and said, “Rudolph, I have some fairy dust and want to give you an extra spoonful to see if it will help you fly.”

She reached down to pick up the bag of dust she placed on the ground and let out the loudest scream you have ever heard. It was so loud that Highstep and I came running out of the barn.

“What’s going on out here? Is everyone okay?” I asked.

“Everyone is okay . . . I think,” Lyra said. “I’m not sure about Rudolph though.”

“What do you mean? Where is Rudolph?” I asked. “Did something happen to him?”

“Santa, I watched Rudolph trying to fly and felt bad that he was not able to. I remembered what you told me about the red fairy dust when the fairies came to deliver a bag to you. I was going to give Rudolph a spoonful, and . . . well, by the time I finally found a spoon, Rudolph had eaten the entire bag of dust!”

“He ate the whole bag?!” I looked at Highstep and continued, “Have you ever given a reindeer that much fairy dust?”

“Never!” Highstep said. “I have no idea what happens when a reindeer eats that much.”

Just then, I saw a bright light up above the barn, and asked, “Can anyone see what that is up there. It’s like looking into the sun, it is so bright.”

Highstep stood about 5 feet away, and said, “Come over here Santa. From this angle you can see what, or I should say, who it is.”

“What do you mean who?” By the time I asked I was next to Highstep and could see what he meant. There was Rudolph, flying high over the barn. And that light I saw? It was Rudolph’s nose!

#      #      #      #

“So now thanks to Lyra, Rudolph is able to fly,” Highstep said.

“Yes, he can, but he also has a nose that glows red all the time!” I stated.

“It does, but you like having him around on those foggy nights to help you see, don’t you?”

“I do like that, and we learned to be careful not to give a reindeer too much fairy dust. But I’m not so sure Lyra learned her lesson about doing things without checking with us first, even though this time she actually did help.”

Note from Santa: The original story (“Flying High“) about Lyra and the red fairy dust was posted on July 29, 2019

I hope you enjoyed today’s story. I will post another one next Monday. If you have any comments or if there is something you would like me to tell you about, please feel free to leave me a comment. Until next week . . .

Illustration by FireMane Studio

Just Part Of The Family

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 to. 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.

Note 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 . . .

Illustration by FireMane Studio

Translating Letters for Santa

After finishing lunch, I headed over to the mail room. This is where elves, under the watchful eye of Ms. Claus and myself, translate the letters of children from all over the world.

The mail sleighs had just returned from collecting letters, and entering the room, I heard several elves already reading them in various languages. To most people it would sound confusing, but to me, it was music to my ears. I knew that when they finished reading the letters, I would get some good notes about what the children want for Christmas.

My wife Anya, was sitting at the desk in the back corner. Approaching her I said, “Looks like another busy day. It is so great to have elves that can translate all the different languages. I wish I could take them all with me when I travel so I always have someone who understands the local languages.”

“That would be nice.” Anya said. She stood up and walked around her desk to stand next to me and continued, “You know, I heard there was a new elf attending the Elf School, that knows several languages. Maybe you should check with Lector, the language teacher.”

“That sounds like a great idea. It sure would be nice to have someone like that. You don’t know what the new elf’s name is do you?”

“I’m not sure. Seems it started with a ‘B.’ Bagel maybe? Sorry I just can’t remember.”

“No problem. I’m sure Lector will know. If you don’t need me, I’d like to go over and check it out. Do you mind?”

“We’ve got this under control.”

“Great! I’ll see you later.”

I entered the school and turned down the hall towards Lector’s office. As I approached, he was coming out and began walking toward me. “Lector, how are you today,” I said.

“I’m doing well Santa. What brings you over here?”

“Ms. Claus was telling me about a new elf that speaks many languages, and I was wonder . . . “

“Babble” the Dean interrupted.

“What?” I said with a quizzical look.

“The elf you are looking for. His name is Babble. I was actually going to call you about him. When I realized his talent, I thought you would have a place for him. Would you like to meet him?”

“You bet!”

“I’m on my way to teach a class right now, and I’m afraid I don’t have time to introduce you to him. Do you want to come back when I’m free?”

“I don’t think that’s necessary. Can you tell me where I can find him?”

Looking at his watch he said, “He should be in the library right now. I saw him earlier and he is wearing a purple vest with thin pink lines, and a yellow shirt. But the sure give-away will be his hat. He likes to wear an orange French Beret, instead of the traditional elf hat.”

“Thanks Dean.”

It must have taken me all of three seconds to find Babble among the 35 or 40 elves in the library. Walking up to the table where he was studying, I said, “Excuse me, but are you Babble?”

“Yes I am, what can I do for you Santa?”

Sitting in the chair on the opposite side of the desk I said, “I hear that you can speak several languages. Is that true?”

“It is. I have traveled to many places and just seem to have the knack for learning languages.”

“Can you say ‘Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night’ in Spanish?”

“Feliz Navidad a todos, y a todos una buena noche,” he responded with no hesitation.

 

“French?” I asked.

“Joyeux Noël à tous et bonne nuit à tous.”

 

“German?”

“Frohe Weihnachten an alle und eine gute Nacht.”

 

“Swahili?”

“Krismasi njema kwa wote na usiku mwema wote.”

 

“That’s amazing,” I said. Leaning back in the chair, I continued, “Ms. Claus and I are always looking for elves to help translate the letters we get from all over the world. There are also times when I travel to check up on the children, and could use someone like you to help translate. Do you think you’d be like to do something like that?”

“You bet I would! That sounds like a great job!”

“Then I will talk to Bernard, my head elf, and when you finish your studies at school, I will have him assign you to the mail room. When I travel and need help with local languages, you can go with me.”

We stood up and shook hands on it. I turned to leave and smiled knowing that I found an elf with a talent I really needed. As I was about to walk out the door, I heard Babble say, “Thanks for giving me the chance to use my talent to help you, Santa!”

I turned, and with a smile on my face, waved to him and said, “I’m looking forward to it!”

Note 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 . . .

Illustration by FireMane Studio

When Tempers Flare at the North Pole

Tatler walked past the stuffed animal toy shop on his way to his job in the reindeer barn, when he heard Stanley and Brixton yelling at each other. It appeared they both thought of themselves as the best at making stuffed animals, and their tempers were flaring.

Thinking that Bernard, the head elf, should know about this, Tatler headed toward his office. When he arrived, Bernard and I had been looking over production reports. We needed to be sure there would be plenty of the most popular toys.

Nearly out of breath and with a concerned look on his face, he stuck his head in Bernard’s office door and said, “Bernard, Santa, do you have a moment?”

“Sure. Come on in,” Bernard replied.

Getting up and pulling a chair over for Tatler, I said, “How can we help you?”

“I really don’t like telling you this, but I just heard Stanley and Brixton, in the stuffed animal toy shop, arguing over their work.”

“Well that’s not good, and certainly not elf-like,” I said.

I then turned to Bernard and simply said, “Temperance?”

“I could not agree more,” Bernard responded. “She would be perfect for this.” Pushing the intercom button, he continued, “Telsa, could you ask Temperance to come to my office?”

“I’ll tell her right away, Bernard.”

All the elves call her Tempe. She’s the calmest elf, has never raised her voice to anyone, and has the unique ability to help others get along. You could ask any elf who their best friend is, and they would most likely say ‘Tempe.’

When Bernard finished talking with Telsa, I said, “Tatler you did the right thing letting us know. Bernard and I will take it from here. You should head over to the barn. Highstep will be looking for you to help feed the reindeer.”

A few minutes later, Tempe knocked on the frame of Bernard’s open door, and said, “You wanted to see me?”

“We do,” Bernard replied. He pointed towards a chair, “come on in and have a seat. We have a special job for you today.”

At four feet, six inches tall, Temperance, is one of the tallest elves. Thinner than most elves, she usually wears long button up dresses, and glasses.

“Tempe, it seems Stanley and Brixton are having a problem getting along with each other today. We heard that their tempers flared up over who’s the best at making stuffed animals,” I said sinking into Bernard’s overstuffed couch.

Bernard leaned forward in his chair, and placing his elbows on his desk, he put his hands together as if to pray. “We hoped you could get them to solve their differences,” he said.

“I would be willing to see what I can do. Would you like me to look into it now or after their shift?” Tempe asked, standing up and smoothed her dress.

“I think the sooner the better.”

Turning toward the door, “Then I’ll go right over and see what I can do.”

“Thanks, Temperance!”

#   #   #

When Tempe walked in the workshop, she immediately heard the two elves arguing. Moving across the room she came to the table where the elves worked and said, “What are you two so upset about?”

Stanley wasted no time.  He explained to Tempe, “Brixton is not pulling his weight! I am making two animals to his one, yet he claims he’s the best . . .”

Brixton immediately broke in at Stanley’s claim, “In your dreams! I can build more animals than you any day!”

“Okay, I think I heard enough,” Tempe said. “You have been friends and working together for a long time, and I don’t think you should let this get in the way of your friendship.” She asked Stanley, “What do you think causes Brixton not to make as many animals as you?”

“He cannot sew the back of the animals up fast enough!”

She turned to Brixton and asked, “What do you think causes Stanley to not make as many animals as you?”

“He is too slow at putting the stuffing in!”

“So, if I understand it correctly, Brixton you are the best at stuffing the animals, and Stanley you are best at sewing their backs up. Do I have that right?”

Stanley with his hands on his hips, and Brixton with his arms folded on his chest, both nodded in agreement.

“I think I see a solution. Instead of you each stuffing and sewing your own, Brixton you should stuff all the animals, and Stanley, you sew them all up. Doing that I think you can make more together than you each did alone.”

The elves faced each other and Brixton said, “She has a point. We’d be helping Santa if we could make more.”

“I agree,” Stanley added, raising his right hand to shake Brixton’s, “after all you are better at stuffing than I am. Let’s give it a try!”

As Tempe walked out of the workshop, she overheard Brixton say, “I like working with you where we each get to do what we like best!”

“Could not agree more! Hey, what would you say to a game of checkers tonight after dinner?”

Note 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 . . .

Illustration by FireMane Studio

Santa’s Summer Explorations

With the scent of the pancakes, chocolate chip and blueberry, still hanging in the air from breakfast, I walked toward the sink with my dishes and told Ms. Claus, “Anya, we need to check up on the children in Cincinnati today and I thought the Cincinnati Museum Center would be a good place to go. They have the Duke Energy Children’s Museum and several new exhibits that have recently opened. It should be busy with many of our little friends to watch, not to mention that we get to see some fun things there.”

“That sounds fantastic! Can we can see their Egypt exhibit?”

“Yes, you know I love their special exhibits.”

With Anya in agreement, I called over to the reindeer barn. “Highstep, Ms. Claus and I are heading to Cincinnati today. Would you get a sleigh and reindeer together for us?”

Anya, while cleaning off the table, interrupted, “Can you tell Highstep I’d prefer to use my sleigh, the Dulcet, for the trip?”

“Sure. Highstep, Ms. Claus would like to take the Dulcet, if you don’t mind. Would you radio Carl and let him know we are coming down today.”

“No problem.”

“Be sure to ask him if we can use his car to get to the museum?”

“I can do that. See you in a little bit.”

Carl is a J.A.T.S., ‘Jolly Assistant To Santa.’ He is one of my Scout Elves, keeping a watchful eye on the children in his area to see if they are being naughty or nice. J.A.T.S. also look like me, and during the Christmas season they will meet with children, when I cannot be there. As you know, while I can get to every house in one night, I cannot be in more than one place at a time.

I also use the help of my J.A.T.S. to get around when I visit outside of Christmas morning. When I’m delivering presents, all air traffic is stopped so that I can get everywhere I need to be. But the rest of the year they cannot stop all the planes from flying just for me. So in order to get to different places to see the children, J.A.T.S. will let me use their car.

As I moved towards the door, I reminded Anya, “Don’t forget, it is summer down there.”

Turning to look at me, Anya said, “I know. The weather report it said it will be in the 90s and very humid. I’m going to wear shorts with my Rose Lavelle shirt to show my support of women’s sports. After all, she was on the team that just won back to back World Cups.”

“Sounds good. I’m going to go change now and then head down to the reindeer barns.”

“I won’t be far behind you,” Anya said, filling the sink with water to clean the dishes.

With my warm weather clothes under my heavy winter coat, hat, and gloves, I headed outside. Just beyond the pasture where many of the younger reindeer were playing, I entered the barn through a single red door trimmed in green. Inside the barn, I could smell the reindeer food, which consists of lichen, which is a type of moss, grass and other plants. The sweet scent reminded me of the flowers we would smell once we arrived in Cincinnati.

From down the row of stalls on my right, Highstep, the elf in charge of the reindeer, hollered, “Hey Santa. It will be just a few more minutes before the reindeer are harnessed to the sleigh.”

“Which reindeer are you using?”

“I was going to use Clarice and Olive. Is that okay with you?”

“Absolutely, they are two of our best reindeer.”

I was chatting with Vixen in her stall, when I heard “Santa” in stereo. “Did you two rehearse that?” I asked. Anya approached from the left, ready for our trip, while Highstep approached from the right.

“I’m ready and can’t wait,” Anya said smiling.

“Sleigh and reindeer are waiting outside,” Highstep chimed in. “I talked with Carl, and he will be waiting for you, and he said using his car would not be a problem.”

Helping Anya into her sleigh, I said, “Highstep, thanks for getting the sleigh and team together for our trip.”

“My pleasure Santa, enjoy your day.” Highstep responded as he began spreading a bale of hay in a reindeer stall.

With that Ms. Claus took the reins of her sleigh, and guided it out of the eastern tunnel and headed for the Greater Cincinnati area.

When we arrived at Carl’s, Anya landed the sleigh alongside his barn, and before either Anya or I could get out one foot out of the sleigh we heard, “Santa, Ms. Claus, so good to see you again! I have the car all ready for you.”

“Thanks Carl. There is a lot to do today,” I said. Opening the car door for Anya I looked at Carl, “If you decide to put the reindeer in the pasture with your horses, you may want to keep an eye on them. You know how they love to tease horses about not being able to fly.”

“No problem, they will be just fine. I will see you when you get back and have the sleigh and reindeer ready for your return trip to the North Pole. Oh, and I do have some updates on the children I’ve been watching for you. I’ll give you all my notes when you return as well.”

As we drove off, I saw Carl in the rear-view mirror, tending to the reindeer. Anya and I looked at each other and smiled in anticipation of the perfect day ahead of us.

When we arrived at the Cincinnati Museum Center, it was getting close to lunch time. Knowing most of the children would be taking time to eat and rest we decided to visit Egypt first.

The exhibit allowed us to travel back in time to over 5,000 years ago. We were able to explore the realities of the daily life of one of the most advanced civilizations along the River Nile, in ancient Egypt.

After seeing the Egypt exhibit, we walked around the museums watching children and taking notes. We spent the majority of our time in the children’s museum, where most of the children were playing. There were so many nice children exploring and learning, that we filled four notebooks with our comments.

Later that night, after our return from Cincinnati, sitting by the fire place, Anya said, “Did I ever tell you how wonderful it is to visit places like we did today? And that exhibit on Egypt, all I can say is Wow! What fun learning about the Pharaohs and the common people from that time. I learned so much about them today.”

“I could not agree more. And we saw plenty of our young friends, who were so busy having fun, that not one of them even noticed we were there!”

Note 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 . . .

Illustration by FireMane Studio

Flying High

Walking through the courtyard on the way to her job in the kitchen, Doheny passed by Lyra, who had the biggest grin on her face. “Lyra, you look especially happy today. Is it your birthday?”

“No, but it sure feels like it. For some reason, I seem to be able to jump and leap higher than ever before. Watch this!” With very little effort, Lyra leaped into the air and must have jumped a good ten feet straight up.

“Wow! How did you do that? I’ve never seen any elf who was able to jump like that!”

“I don’t know. It just started after breakfast this morning. I don’t know how I do it, but I sure like it! It’s like being on a trampoline. See you later, I need to get to school,” Lyra said as she bounced her way across the courtyard away from Doheny.

Doheny opened the door to the administration building where the kitchen is, and started walking in while still staring back at Lyra leaping into the air.

“Whoa there Doheny,” I said as she bumped into me in the doorway.

“Santa, I’m glad I ran into you!”

“You sound a little upset. Is everything okay?”

“I’m a little worried about Lyra. Have you seen her lately?”

“Not since yesterday. Why?”

“I think that maybe she has eaten some jumping beans or something. When she walks, she bounces really high into the air. I’ve never seen an elf do that,” Doheny stated.

“She is probably just happy and . . .” I started when Doheny broke in.

“There, look on the other side of the courtyard. Can you see her between the dorms and the Elf University building?”

Looking over I could see Lyra jumping as high as the second floor of the dorms. “Oh my, I see what you mean. I better get Bernard and look into it.”

I immediately turned around and headed back to my office.

When I got there, I hit the button on the intercom, “Telsa, can you get Bernard to meet me in my office as soon as possible?”

“I’m on it Santa. I’ll let him know right away.”

“Thanks Telsa.”

I sat at my desk when Bernard came in and I told him what I had seen Lyra doing. Then noticing Bernard staring at the wall behind me and seeming to ignore me, I said, “Did you hear me? What are you looking at?”

“Did you spill some of the reindeer Fairy Dust?”

“Of course not. We both know how precious that dust is and I am always very careful when anyone handles it. That’s why I keep all the fairy dust we use for Christmas Magic, in my safe.”

“Look at the top of your safe.”

Swiveling around in my chair, I saw a bag of red dust on top the safe. It had been opened and some of the dust had spilled out.

“Now how did that get there,” I wondered to myself.

Looking back at Bernard, “The fairies were supposed to make a delivery this morning, but they have the combination to the safe, so they can properly store it if I am not here.”

“Well it would appear they just set it on top today. Do you think Lyra got into the bag?”

“The elves know they are not allowed in my office if I am not here, but I suppose it is possible. Maybe we should get Lyra in here and ask some questions.”

“I agree. I scheduled her for some training over at the University today. I’ll call over to the school and have her sent over here right away.”

Bernard and I were sitting on my couch talking about the days schedule, when Lyra walked in, “Afternoon Santa, Bernard. You wanted to see me?”

“Yes, we did.” I pointed to the corner safe and asked, “I don’t suppose you know anything about this do you?”

Lyra’s face turned a bright red, as she responded, “I umm . . . umm. I may have made a mistake.”

“Can you tell me what happened?” I asked.

“Well, I had just finished breakfast and was walking down the hallway to head over to school when I noticed a couple fairies fly into your office with a small bag. Looking into the office, I saw them try to open the safe and then just leave the bag on top of it.”

Looking a bit relieved to be telling her story, she continued, “When they left, I just had to see what was in the bag. Opening the bag, I saw what I thought was red sprinkles, and loving sprinkles, I took a taste.” Twisting her mouth into a sour look, “Boy was I wrong. I found out right away it was not what I thought, and I left,” she continued.

“That bag was my new supply of Red Fairy Dust for the reindeer. It is what Highstep, the elf in charge of the reindeer, and I use to make them fly.”

“I guess that explains why I bounced when I walked.”

Bernard with a slight grin, responded, “Lyra, now that we know what happened, the effects of the dust should wear off in a few hours, but I sincerely hope you do not go into any of our offices again without our permission.”

“You can count on that. I have definitely learned a lesson today!”

Note 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 . . .

Illustration by FireMane Studio

Not All Candy Canes Are The Same

Bernard, distracted by the scent of the cinnamon rolls from breakfast that floated across the hall from the dining room, looked at today’s schedule. He wanted to be sure the elves were in the right place for their jobs.

Slowly spinning in his big green chair and staring at the ceiling, he wondered where he would put Chumley, who is a Dwarf.  He stuggles doing some of the work the elves do naturally. Yesterday he had been making Hatchimals, and with short and stubby Dwarf fingers, he broke too many eggs trying to get the animals inside them.

Tapping his candy cane pen on the side of his head, he realized what Chumley could do. Hitting the call button on the intercom, “Telsa, can you have Chumley come to my office?”

“I’ll let him know.”

“Great, thank you.”

After getting the message, Chumley quickly finished his breakfast and rushed over to Bernard’s office. “Telsa said you wanted to see me?” he stated, licking icing off his fingers.

“Chumley I think I’ve come up with the perfect job for you!” Bernard put his hand on Chumley’s shoulder. “How would you like to work in the kitchen making candy canes?”

“I love candy canes. That would be so much fun!”

Walking into the kitchen, several elves had already started to cook the sugar for the candy canes, and Blanch was getting the cooling table ready for it. “Blanch,” Bernard called, “this is Chumley and I thought he could help you make candy canes today.”

“That would be great. I could use a couple extra hands today.”

Turning toward the door to leave, Bernard said, “Thanks Blanch.” Looking back at Chumley he added, “I’m counting on you to do a good job today, please do not disappoint me.”

“I won’t!” said Chumley, then looking at Blanch, “What would you like me to do?”

“First there is one big rule you must follow. You are not allowed to eat any of the candy canes while you are working.”

“No problem!” he agreed as he folded his hands over his bulging belly.

“You can add the red coloring to the mixture.” Blanch showed Chumley the cooling table, “When the sugar is cooked it will be very hot and will be poured here. I want you to take this bottle of red food coloring and mix it into the sugar. Be sure you continue stirring the mixture. When it stops bubbling, Hanna will take it to the next table to shape it into canes. Any questions?”

“None I can think of.”

The first few batches went well and at one point Blanch had even commented, “Chumley I am very impressed, good work.”

About the fourth batch, Chumley started to get hungry. He wanted to reach over to the other table and take one of the finished candy canes to eat, but he had promised not to do that. Cupping his chin in his hand, he remembered that he had a bag of Sour Patch Kids in his pocket.

Chumley looked around the room, making sure nobody was watching. He then reached into his pocket with his thick fingers. Fumbling around, while stirring the mixture with his other hand, he pulled the bag of candy from his pocket. Just as he got the bag open, and was about to pour some candy into his mouth, someone dropped a pot on the floor. The loud banging noise surprised  him and made him jump. His candy fell into the sugar he was mixing.

Before he could even blink, the Sour Patch Kids melted into the sugar mixture. He knew that he should tell Blanch what happened, but then she would tell Bernard, and he did not want that to happen. Looking down he noticed the candy did not change the color of the sugar, so he decided not say anything and hope no one would notice.

Unknown to Chumley, Berrie, as part of quality control, was tasting one candy cane from each batch. When she got to the batch with the Sour Patch Kids candy in them, she immediately snapped, “What is this? Why does this taste so sour?” Then looking around for someone to answer her, she said, “Now I’m getting a sweet taste!”

Blanch rushed over and tasted one of the candy canes herself. Her lips puckered from the sour taste. Calling the cooks over, she handed them one to taste, placed her hands on her hips, and said, “Well?”

The cooks threw their hands up in the air and backed away from the table. “We followed the recipe just like we always have!”

“Well someone did something. These do not taste the way they should!”

Chumley, knowing it was his fault, could not let someone else take the blame for his mistake. Raising his hand he confessed, “I did it. I tried to get a piece of candy from my pocket, somebody dropped a pot and it startled me….it was an accident.”

Berrie waved one of the sour patch candy canes at Blanch and said, “Chumley might be on to something here. Starts out sour and turns sweet quick. Children might like these.”

Seeing the cooks nodding their heads in agreement Blanch decided to call Santa in. Pushing the button on the intercom marked ‘Santa’s Office,’ she said, “Santa, would you come over to the kitchen? We have something to show you.”

“I’ll be right there.”

As I entered the kitchen, the sugary scent that lingered made me grin from ear to ear. “Blanch, what did you want to show me?”

Handing me a candy cane she asked, “Would you mind tasting this for me?”

Biting off a piece I was stunned by the taste. “Wow, is this different!”

“Do you like it?” Blanch inquired.

“It was sour at first, but ended with a sweet taste. I think the children might like these. You know some children do not like peppermint because it is too spicy for them. Who came up with this?”

“Chumley came up with it quite by accident.”

After Blanch told me how it happend I responded, “Well it seems to me that you may want him to experiment with other flavors for candy canes. Seems he has a knack for this.”

Laughing Blanch agreed, “Given his unusual tastes, I agree that may be a great job for him!”

Note 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 . . .

Illustration by FireMane Studio

Wiggle and Waddle meet Polar Pete

Wiggle had laid down to sleep and when he woke, he rolled onto his right side and there stood Waddle. Flippers crossed, tapping his foot, and staring right at him, he impatiently said, “It’s about time! I’ve been waiting forever for you to get up.”

“I didn’t know we had to get up at a certain time.”

“I’m just nervous. You know, we are not at home and have a lot to learn about the North Pole. I thought we would go out and explore a bit? Maybe we can find something for breakfast in one of the fishing holes Nippy showed us yesterday.”

Just the mention of breakfast, made Wiggle’s stomach growl. Jumping up he cried, “What are we waiting for? Let’s go!”

They headed down the ice corridor to the South entrance. Once outside, they could feel a steady breeze blowing from the West, causing some of the new snow to form drifts several feet high.

The penguins wobbled across a small field. They continued up a small hill and, once on top, they both saw one of the fishing holes Nippy had shown them. Looking out over the water, Waddle said, “Hey, look at that. Is that a slab of ice floating out there?”

Scanning the water, Wiggle responded, “Where? I don’t see anything.”

“It’s right there . . . I know I saw . . . maybe I just thought . . . wait, there it is, it’s moved over to the right.”

Just as Waddle finished saying that, the ice disappeared once again. “What the heck! Did you see that? The ice sank under the water. Ice can’t sink like that.”

“We are in a new place and maybe things are different here. Let’s go down by the water and see if there might be some fish for us.”

Like two little children on sleds, they both threw themselves down on their bellies and slid all the way to the edge of the water. Just as they began to stand back up, water came up over the ice and swamped the two of them. Looking up, they could only see what looked like a gigantic piece of ice coming out of the water.

With the crest on top of his head standing straight up, Wiggle rolled to his right. Waddle growling, as a penguin does when it senses danger, dove left. The ice they were on shook. When everything settled down, Waddle got up looking for Wiggle, hoping he had escaped being crushed. Between him and Wiggle the huge white glob appeared to be moving and rising up. “How could that be? Ice cannot move on its own,” he thought.

Standing, Wiggle stared horrified at the moving hunk of ice. As both started staggering backwards, Waddle squealed, “That’s not ice, that’s some sort of white beast!”

Once the large, white hunk reached its full height, the two penguins heard a deep voice say, “Don’t be afraid, I didn’t mean to scare you. I’m Polar Pete.” Turning to face the penguins, the tall white hunk continued, “You must be Wiggle and Waddle. Nippy told me all about your adventure from the South Pole.”

“What are you? We have never seen any creature as big as you are,” Wiggle managed to say while still staggering backwards.

“I’m a polar bear, and while penguins only live at the South Pole, we only live at the North Pole. That’s why you didn’t know what I was. I’m one of Santa and Nippy’s friends here. You must be Wiggle?”

“How did you know?”

“Nippy told me Waddle was taller, and that was how I would be able to tell you apart.”

Curiosity had a hold on Waddle, and with his fear fading, he asked, “How do you swim? Seems you would just sink as big as you are, and you don’t have any flippers?”

Laughing, Polar Pete informed his new South Pole friends, “First, it’s my body fat that makes me float. And then look at these,” holding up his enormous front paws he continued. “They make great paddles to move through the water.”

Polar Pete’s talking about eating reminded Wiggle why they had come out of the cave. “Waddle, do you think we can get some breakfast now?”

Happily, Pete said, “Tell me what you like, and I’m sure I can help you find it.”

“We love fish,” Waddle stated, eager to get breakfast.

“Join me then, and we can all go get something to eat. You may have to swim pretty deep to get to some of the fish, would that be okay?”

Together Wiggle and Waddle responded, “Okay!”

Then Waddle added, “Lead the way, we are famished.” With that the three new friends dove into the water and swam away in search of their breakfast.

Note 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 . . .

Illustration by FireMane Studio