The Great Cookie Bake-Off

The kitchen hummed with excitement and the aroma of cinnamon drifted throughout the room. Eager for the contest to begin, Ms. Claus made her way towards Blanch, head of the North Pole kitchen. Overseeing the yearly cookie baking contest at the North Pole for several years, Ms. Claus knew how intense the competition could be. This year, however, invitations had been sent to all baking elves throughout the world to join in the Great Cookie Bake-Off. Fifteen teams had accepted.

“This is exciting,” Blanch remarked as she walked up to greet Ms. Claus. “My staff and I stocked the kitchen carefully and have provided every baking utensil possible.” Picking up her clip board, she added, “Gotta go!  Each team has to be checked in before the contest can begin.”

“No problem. While observing the excitement, Ms. Claus felt a tap on her shoulder.

“Can I talk with you a minute Ms. Claus?” a quiet voice asked.

Turning, she noticed the unhappy face of the youngest elf on the North Pole’s team. “Certainly, Guinevere, what seems to be the problem?”

“I’m sorry Ms. Claus,” she began, “but Doheny always finds things to yell about that really aren’t problems. I know what I’m doing, but she makes me so nervous.”

“Don’t let Chef Doheny get to you, Guinevere. She is a perfectionist, but you could learn a lot from her. Besides you have baking skills that the North Pole team needs.”

“Thanks, Ms. Claus, for believing in me, but… maybe I’m not up to the task and should step aside so the team can do its best.”

Ms. Claus stared directly at Guinevere. “OK, if that’s how you feel. But I have confidence in you. This world-wide event will only happen every five years. Are you in or out?”

“In!’” was the elf’s determined reply as she turned on her heels and walked back into the kitchen.

Ms. Claus smiled. “Now,” she muttered, “I better find Blanch so we can begin the contest.”

“Make Santa proud,” she remarked as she passed her team. Turning, she winked at Guinevere and made her way towards Blanch in the front of the kitchen. “All teams ready?” she asked.

Nodding, Blanch whispered, “Ready as they’ll ever be!”

Taking the microphone, Ms. Claus welcomed everyone. “Remember, you have an hour to bake two dozen cookies. Place them on the official North Pole platter that each team was given, and take them to the dining room across the hall so that our official taster, Santa, can determine the winners. Is everyone ready?”

As cheers traveled throughout the room, Ms. Claus yelled, “Let the contest begin.”

Ms. Claus scrutinized the room, pleased by the excited dedication the elves revealed. Strolling among the teams, Ms. Claus noticed an elf rub a lemon over a grater to create lemon zest. “That lemony scent makes my mouth water,” she remarked.

Then she made her way to the Laplander table to watch the elves prepare Finland’s famous Joulutorttu (jo lu tort tu) cookie. Ms. Claus watched two team members cook down the prunes, adding a little sugar as they did to create a jammy consistency. Three others laid out the dough into two-inch squares, partially cut into fours. “What an interesting design.”

Proud of her country’s unique cookie, the elf explained, “Each square will have a dollop of jam placed into the middle. Then we curl the dough to the left of each part and create a star. Powdered sugar is sprinkled on top. I hope you will try one after the contest.”

Smiling, Ms. Claus nodded, “I definitely plan to do that.”

When I arrived, Ms. Claus and Blanch opened the doors to the dining-hall, inviting me to take my place at the head of the table. “Welcome, my fellow elves,” I announced. “What a beautiful display of your baking skills. Since this is the first international cookie contest of its kind, I will enjoy every tasty morsel.”

The elves broke into laughter and cheered me on as I made my way around the dining table. Listing the number attached to each platter, I then sampled a cookie and wrote notes about each one on a pad of paper.

About an hour later, with my stomach straining against my belt, I walked to the front of the room and took the microphone. The room went silent. “My taste buds were put to the test today. It wasn’t easy, but I have chosen the winners.”

“Finland, your Joulutorttu was one of the most unique cookies I have ever tasted, congratulations,” I said handing them the first place trophy.

“That was a hard call because the Nutmeg Cookie was also outstanding,” I remarked as Chef Doheny and her team cheered. “I am so proud of the home team.”

Holding up the second place trophy, the chef smiled with delight.

“Finally, the Scottish elves made a delicious Lemon Shortbread cookie,” I said, giving them the final trophy. “You know, Ms. Claus is especially fond of lemon, so I see her making these cookies without me having to ask.”

“Thanks Santa,” yelled the team in unison.

The slap of high fives and dances of victory could be heard and seen throughout the dining room. “You have made three teams very happy Santa,” whispered Ms. Claus as she gave me a quick kiss.

“This was a wonderful idea, Anya,” I remarked slipping my arm around her shoulders. “I am so proud of you and Blanch. I’ve never had so much fun tasting sweets.”

“Cookies will always be your weakness,” she joked.

Spotting Guinevere in the back of the room, Ms. Claus excused herself and went over and hugged the elf. “I’m so proud of you!” she exclaimed.

“Is this the young elf you were talking about Anya?” remarked Santa, slipping up behind us.

“Yes, she is. Guinevere did more than she thought she could do today, and it paid off.”

“Thanks Ms. Claus! If you hadn’t challenged me, I don’t think I could have stuck with it.”

“Hurry up Guinevere,” yelled one of her teammates.

“Coming,” she called out. “Sorry Santa and Ms. Claus. Need to go. We’re getting our team picture taken.”

As the excited elf ran to catch up with her team, I turned to Ms. Claus, “I love how you work with our young elves,” I said giving her a quick kiss. “They need encouragement.”

“Thanks Santa, but you know, I learned from the best.” Grabbing my arm, she added, “Now let’s enjoy some cookies before they are all gone.”

Notes From Santa

To read more about cookies or the North Pole kitchen please check out: With a Little Help From My Friends, which was posted on July 1, 2019; and Not All Candy Canes Are The Same, which was posted on July 22, 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 

Santa’s Head Elf

“I can’t believe this!” Tiny exclaimed, standing with his arms folded over his stomach and tapping his foot.

“What’s wrong?” asked Heart, another elf working in the bicycle workshop.

“I restocked all the parts bins, then Bernard came in and told me I had to do the tires all over again.”

“Did he give you a reason?”

“Something about tires being different sizes, and I didn’t have them sorted the right way. Who made him boss anyway?”

“I’m pretty sure that would be Santa,” Heart explained. “There he is now. You could ask him.”

Without hesitation, Tiny came up to me and asked, “How did Bernard become your head elf?”

Confused by the question, I asked, “Why, is there a problem?”

“I’m just wondering why he gets to tell all the elves what to do. I think I do a good job, but then Bernard will tell me I have to do it over again, his way.”

“I see.” I stroked my beard, as I thought about the best way to respond. “Christmas is a huge operation today. Toys need to be made, and I deliver them all over the world in one night.”

“That’s why you have the elves,” Heart stated.

“It is, but with 6,967 elves working in eight different toy shops and eight other departments, I could not keep up with all of them. So, I created a chain of command. Think of it this way. I’m like a school principal and Bernard is my assistant principal. Then each classroom, like each workshop, has a teacher in charge of that class. Here at the North Pole, however, there is a supervisor for each toy shop or department.”

Heart smiled at the comparison and finished my idea. “Then the students are like the worker elves here at the North Pole. The student’s job is to learn, and our job is to make toys.”

“Just great,” Tiny said sounding agitated. “But why is Bernard your assistant?”

“That’s a fair question,” I responded. “When I was in Lapland, Finland hundreds of years ago looking for reindeer, it was Bernard who approached me about having the elves work at the North Pole.”

Still not convinced that Bernard was the right choice, he demanded, “That’s all it took to become your head elf?”

“It was much more than that. His initiative was what sold me on him.”

Giving me a strange look, Tiny shook his head. “I don’t even know what that means.”

“In other words,” I began, “he took the steps and action to introduce himself instead of waiting for me to introduce myself to him or the other elves. And he did not stop there. While looking for reindeer that would allow my sleigh to fly, he knew someone, Queen Gwendolen, who could help me. Without being asked, he introduced me to her.”

“Okay, so because he helped you get your reindeer, you immediately made him the head elf?”

“No Tiny. It was at least two years after the elves moved to the North Pole to make toys, before I decided Bernard should be my second in command.”

“Why so long?” Heart asked.

“In the beginning, I handled everything myself. I oversaw all the workshops and departments. Then the demands of gifts for all the children in the world got to be more than I could handle. Ms. Claus and I decided we needed to let others help with overseeing the operation.”

Unconvinced, Tiny asked, “Did you have a competition for the job? Or did you just give it to Bernard?”

“Because Bernard already did most of what I wanted an assistant to do, I was satisfied. When he saw something that could be improved, he just did it. On top of that, the other elves respected him. When he spoke, they listened.”

Reluctant to give in, Tiny blurted out, “So, the truth is that he was your favorite, and you just gave it to him?”

“Come on Tiny,” yelled Heart rolling his eyes. “You know Santa doesn’t have favorites.”

“Except Ms. Claus,” I interrupted smiling. “Besides, I told all the elves what I wanted to do, and that if they were interested in the position they should come and talk with me.”

“I bet everyone applied for that job!” exclaimed Tiny.

“As it turned out, no one else asked about the position.”

Tiny scratched his head. “I find that hard to believe.”

“I’m not sure you understand,” I answered. “The elves saw how hard he worked and how fair he was in assigning duties.  His talent for finding the right job to match each elf’s skill level was unique. In addition, when something went wrong in the workshops, Bernard knew he would be held responsible, not the workers in the shop.”

“Humm . . . I guess that explains why he wants the tires a certain way,” Tiny said starting to realize how foolish he was to react the way he had.

“That’s right. He knew that if the tires were organized properly, the line would run faster because the elf putting on the tire would know exactly where to find the right tire. When he asked you to reorganize the tires, did he also tell you why?”

Tiny’s face turned an embarrassing shade of red, as his chin dropped to his chest. “Yes, he did. I’m sorry Santa.”

“It’s okay, “I said in a soft voice as I gently lifted his chin with my finger. “I’m glad we talked. Maybe now you can see Bernard in a different way, not as a boss, but as a teacher who is trying to help you become the best you can be.”

Notes From Santa

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

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

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

Illustration by FireMane Studio 

LEON Day

“Claus Ms. and Santa hi. Today you are how?” Snickers said as she walked backwards past Anya and me in the courtyard.

Howie followed wearing his clothes backwards, “Day great a having are you hope.”

Anya stopped and placed her hands on her hips as she watched the unusual behavior of the elves. “What has gotten into the elves today?”

“Don’t you know what today is?” I asked her.

“It’s June 25th. So what?”

“Today is Leon Day, which is Noel spelled backwards. Christmas was called Noel back in the 15th century. Today marks the half-way point between last Christmas and next Christmas.”

Smiling, Ms. Claus nodded. “That’s right; I forgot. But what about….”

Just then Bernard came by and interrupted, “Movies the to coming you? Hall meeting the in over “Story Christmas A” and “Reindeer Nosed-Red the Rudolph” showing are they.” Before we could figure out what he said, Bernard walked away backwards heading towards the Elf Meeting Hall.

“This is going to go on all day, isn’t it?” Anya chuckled.

“I’m afraid so. This is a newer tradition with children that started back about thirty years ago. As a matter of fact, there is one group trying to get Leon Day designated as a National Holiday in the United States! Our scout elves watched as the tradition took hold and, being fun loving elves, decided to start celebrating Leon Day themselves. It did not take long before all the elves joined in the celebration. I’ve noticed, however, that the elves have gotten more into doing crazy things in the last few years.”

“I’m noticing that,” replied Ms. Claus as she scooted out of the way of two elves racing backwards down the hallway. “I can understand that the children are excited because they are half way through the year to Christmas,” she added exasperated, “and can celebrate Christmas in July. But, other than being silly and having fun for the day, how do the elves see Leon Day?”

“Tomorrow is when the workshops begin production for the coming season,” I began, trying to avoid a line of elves as they ran backwards down the hall. “From then until Christmas, they will have to be serious and work hard to make the toys needed for all the children. Leon Day is like their last day of vacation, and they want to have as much fun as possible.”

“I don’t understand,” Ms. Claus stated. “The elves have been making toys for decades, and they seem to enjoy their jobs.”

“They do, but you are not in the workshops and don’t see what really goes on to start a new season,” I explained. “For instance, after developing a list of new toys that children seem to be interested in asking for, the elves have to modify the assembly lines in order to make them. It can be complicated and demanding for the elves.”

“I didn’t realize how difficult building toys could be,” Ms. Claus mused thoughtfully. “The elves are always so crafty that I thought designing new toys came naturally to them.”

“Well…. that’s true, but elves take great pride in their workmanship, so they plan and tinker until they have the right equipment and the toys do what they are expected to do. They want everything to be perfect and worry that they might not get it right.”

“I guess that explains why they have so much fun when they are not working,” Ms. Claus responded slipping her arm through mine. “So, remind me about what I should expect to happen today?” she asked smiling.

“Well you have already seen the most unusual. Since Leon is Noel backwards, the elves enjoy doing everything in reverse. They talk, read, and walk backwards, which I find hard to do. You probably noticed that some even wear their clothes backwards.”

“That explains why we had dinner at breakfast. I suppose breakfast will be served for dinner?”

“Yes, but at least lunch will still be lunch,” I joked.

“Are we expected to join in?”

“I think this is just for the elves. However, they are also showing all the Christmas movies at the Elf Meeting Hall today, and I would like to watch some of them with you, if you’re up to it.”

“As long as the movies are not played backwards, I’d love that. Do the children around the world act like the elves are?”

“They do. In addition, many families put up their Christmas trees and decorate their houses as if it’s Christmas and leave them up until the end of July. Several stores put Christmas materials on their shelves for sale. I’ve also known some children to have snowball fights.”

“Really? I can see that happening in the southern hemisphere where it is winter, but how would that work in the north where it’s summer time?”

“I wondered the same thing, but it turns out that some children make several snowballs before the snow melts and store them in a freezer until Leon Day, just so they can have a snowball fight,” I informed Anya.

“Now that’s dedication!” Ms. Claus exclaimed, “but I’d say that our elves are equally dedicated wouldn’t you?” she laughed, pointing to a group of elves continuing to reverse the order of their line while walking backwards toward the Elf Meeting Hall.

Nodding in agreement, I chuckled as the reversing got out of hand and the line fell apart. “Our elves know how to have fun,” I laughed. “If I didn’t know better, I’d think today was Christmas.”

“Movies some watch and cocoa hot and cookies some get let’s,” Ms. Claus said not wanting to be left completely out of the fun.

“Idea great a like sounds,” I said as I squeezed Anya’s hand and headed towards the meeting hall.

Notes From Santa

To read more about Scout Elves please check out: Scout Elves Are Coming, which was posted on November 4, 2019; Scout Elf Shortage, which was posted on February 17, 2020; and The Story of Elves, which was posted on May 4, 2020

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

Patience

Houser and I had just finished our inspection of the newest warehouse when Eli entered with a wheelbarrow of coal. “Where should I put this,” Eli asked.

Houser pointed to a corner, “Over there with the rest of the coal.”

Eli looked over at the corner, then glancing at me, said, “With all this coal you must be expecting a lot of Naughty children this year.”

“What?” I exclaimed. Looking at Houser I continued, “I thought we put a stop to the rumors about my giving coal to children on the Naughty List?”

“We did,” Houser, my elf in charge of the warehouses, said. “This is my apprentice’s first day on the job. Eli has not completed his studies at elf school yet.”

Confused, Eli interrupted and asked, “If coal for naughty children is a rumor then what do you need all this for?”

“You want me to handle this Santa?” Houser asked with a grin.

“No. If you take care of the things we discussed, I will talk with Eli about the coal.”

As Houser walked away, I pointed to a bench close by, “Have a seat.”

As Eli made himself comfortable, I began my story. “You see, many years ago in a one room schoolhouse, Miss Rose wanted to give her students a treat. She placed a box on her desk, and the students noticed that engraved on the top were the words, Mother of all Diamonds. She told the class that if they could wait until the end of the school year, she would open the box and show it to them.”

“How long did they have to wait?” Eli demanded.

“Since this was the first day of school, they had to wait several months before they could see it.”

“That’s too long!” Eli said stomping his foot.

“It is, and for one little boy, it seemed to be an eternity.”

“How did he manage to get through the long wait?” the elf asked.

“To tell you the truth, he didn’t last. He tried hard to wait, but after a couple weeks, his curiosity got the best of him.”

Eli twisted in his seat. “I don’t think I could wait either. What did he do?”

“One day, during quiet work time, he raised his hand to ask Miss Rose a question. The teacher waved for him to come to her desk. When he did, she whispered, ‘What can I help you with?’ The little boy then threw his arms out, knocking the box off the desk, spilling its contents.”

“That was no accident!” exclaimed Eli.

“You’re right. He did it on purpose. The little boy did not want to wait any longer, and wanted to see the Mother of all Diamonds.”

“I bet Miss Rose had something to say to that little boy.”

“She had plenty to say, but it was the little boy who spoke first,” I informed Eli.

“What? I’d think he would have been happy to see the diamond.”

“That’s the thing. There was no diamond in the box.” I turned toward Eli and placed my arm on the back of the bench. “The entire class stood to see what was on the floor. When they saw the contents of the box, they all gasped, except the little boy. He spoke in a loud voice.”

What’s this? You said this box had the mother of all diamonds in it! All I see are several pieces of coal and an old water goblet. Is this some kind of trick?

Getting excited, Eli asked, “Are you kidding? You mean that Miss Rose told a white lie? What did she do?”

“After the children settled back into their seats, she picked up all the lumps of coal and placed them into the goblet. Standing by the side of her desk, she explained that this was not a trick.”

You see, all diamonds begin as worthless lumps of coal just like these. However, over many years and under great pressure, they change into the most valuable stones on earth, diamonds.

“Miss Rose took one lump of coal from the goblet and set it on her desk. Then she picked up an empty cylinder she called the circle of time, and placed it over the goblet. The students were now leaning forward in their desks to see what Miss Rose was doing. She waved her hand over the cylinder, removed it, and then poured diamonds out of the goblet! “

“Wow!” Eli exclaimed, while clapping his hands.

“That’s what the students said. After they settled down, Miss Rose gave each one a diamond, except the boy that could not wait. For him, she picked up the lump of coal she had placed on her desk earlier, and handed it to him. In a calm voice she explained.”

I want you to keep this lump of coal. The next time you want something you’re told you can’t have, remember one thing. We do not always get what we want when we want it. Many times, you will get what you want or need, when the time is right. Practice self-control over your feelings and actions, even if you are excited or tired, and wait for the right time to come.

“I bet that little boy felt bad after the teacher told her story and never forgot that lesson,” Eli wondered aloud.

“You’re right! To this day….” I paused as I reached into my pocket, opened a small red pouch, and held out a piece of coal. “I still have the piece of coal that Miss Rose gave me all those years ago. It reminds me that patience will be rewarded.”

Notes From Santa

Thanks to Stephen Gillham, Triangle Santa, for the foundation of the Mother of all Diamonds Story 

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 . . .

Homesick Penguins

The air was cold, but thanks to the bright sun, Ms. Claus and I were comfortable. Polar Pete and Nippy joined us for a walk. As we made our way over a small hill, I noticed our new penguin friends leaning up against ice jutting out of the snow.

“Wiggle, Waddle,” I called out. “How are you two today?”

Both penguins looked lifeless. Since their arrival on a sheet of ice several months ago, they had been active, but lately I noticed a change. When they did not answer, Polar Pete, the best tracking polar bear at the North Pole, called out in his booming voice, “Hey Wiggle, Waddle! Are you okay?”

Again, there was no answer. When the penguins turned to look at the four of us, I could see they were unhappy. I walked toward them and asked, “Did something happen?”

Waddle, the older and taller penguin said, “We feel out of sorts. Nothing we do seems to be fun anymore.”

“I don’t even want to go fishing for food,” Wiggle added, his voice full of sadness.

Concerned, Anya asked, “How long have you felt like this?”

“Seems like weeks,” Waddle responded.

Pete squatted to get closer to the penguins and said, “I’ve missed seeing you both. Where have you been hiding?”

“To tell you the truth,” Waddle began, “we’ve been avoiding everyone.”

I glanced over at Ms. Claus.

“Santa,” Anya responded, “I think I know what it is. Wiggle and Waddle have been in a strange new place for several months, and they miss their friends at the South Pole. They are not here for them to talk to or play with. They may be homesick.”

“Homesick?” Wiggle questioned.

Ms. Claus put her arm around Wiggle and explained, “Homesickness is a word used to describe the sorrow someone feels being away from home. Do you miss your friends back at the South Pole?”

“I think about them all the time!” Waddle exclaimed.

“I bet you both think a lot about your friends and favorite things to do back home.” Nippy, Frosty the Snowman’s cousin, stated.

Both Wiggle and Waddle shook their heads in agreement. “We can’t stop thinking about home,” Waddle added.

Pete took a long look at the two penguins. He hesitated for a moment then asked, “Do you want to go home?”

In a low voice, Waddle admitted, “We like it here, almost as much as home. We just don’t like feeling this way.”

“I can certainly understand that. As the only snowman here, I often think about my old friends,” Nippy said.

“But you always seem so happy!” exclaimed Wiggle. “Don’t you get sad when you think of them?”

“A little bit. But I made it a point to meet one new person every day. I got close to them and soon realized that home is wherever our loved ones are, and I love all my friends here! You just need to open your heart to all of us. That’s where home is.”

“You make it sound easy,” Waddle stated. “But it’s not. It’s really hard.”

“It is hard, but worth the effort. You know when Ms. Claus and I first moved to the North Pole we experienced the same feelings. We left all our friends and home to come here with the elves,” I explained.

“What did you do?” Wiggle asked.

“First we tried to make the village and especially our home here feel as much like our old home as possible,” Ms. Claus explained.

“We would eat with the elves and join in their games in order to know them better and become their friends,” I added.

“But they were not the same as your old friends,” Waddle insisted.

“No, they weren’t. They are different in many ways, except one.”

“What’s that?”

“As friends they accept us for who we are. They do not judge us and we do not judge them. We will do anything to help them, and they would do the same for us. That’s why we want to help. Wiggle and Waddle you are our friends, the same as the elves, reindeer, Polar Pete and Nippy.”

“I believe that if you allow us all to help,” Ms. Claus started, “we can help you make the North Pole your new home.”

“Join us on our walk this morning. We can share our stories about overcoming feelings of loss and help you make the North Pole your home,” Ms. Claus said.

Our walk lasted a couple of hours. By the end both Wiggle and Waddle were more like themselves again. As we all said goodbye to each other, Pete said, “Tomorrow I will take you both to my bear den and introduce you to all my friends.”

“We look forward to it,” Waddle said. “See you in the morning.”

Later that night, while Anya and I enjoyed some hot cocoa I said, “You know there are many children who feel just like Wiggle and Waddle for many different reasons. I wish we could sit down with each one like we did with the penguins and help them get through it.”

“That would be great if we could.” Anya took a sip of her hot cocoa and continued, “Maybe we could train the Scout Elves to recognize the signs of homesickness in children.”

“I like that idea,” I responded stroking my beard. “That way when I see the child, I can be prepared to try and help them. After all, like Wiggle and Waddle, we want them to be happy wherever they are.”

Notes From Santa

To read more about Wiggle and Waddle please check out: Santa’s Newest Friends, which was posted on July 8 2019; and Wiggle and Waddle Meet Polar Pete, which was posted on July 15, 2019;

To read more about Scout Elves please check out: Scout Elves Are Coming, which was posted on November 4, 2019; and Scout Elf Shortage, which was posted on February 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 by FireMane Studio 

Reindeer vs Technology

Resting both arms on the top rail of the fence around the inside pasture, I watched the reindeer play. I had handpicked each one because of a special quality they each brought to the team. Holding a special place in my heart for them, they became part of my family, just like my elves. As I surveyed each one, I heard a loud voice behind me.

“Santa! We’ve been looking for you.”

Turning, I saw Sledge, the elf in charge of sleighs, and Quinten, the director of research and development, approaching me.

“Gentlemen, what can I do for you?” I asked. Since both had serious looks on their faces, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Quinten spoke first. “You know we are always looking for ways to improve your sleigh.”

“I do and I love the improvements you made recently. I’m not sure what else you could do.”

“Well,” Sledge started, “have you ever heard of GPS?”

“I love German Potato Salad!” Excited now about eating I continued, “Is it time for lunch?”

Quentin placed his hands on his hips and laughed. “You know Santa, sometimes I think you put eating before the children.”

“Global Positioning System, not German potato salad!” Sledge exclaimed as he rolled his eyes. “GPS is what everyone is using these days to find their way when traveling,” he explained.  “It is a network of about 30 satellites orbiting the Earth at an altitude of 12,600 miles. Wherever you are on the planet . . . “

Holding up my hand like a school crossing guard, I interrupted. “Not more technology!” Pointing to the reindeer in the pasture, I added, “These guys are all I need. They have never failed me.”

Shaking his head impatiently, Sledge answered, “True, but we believe that by using GPS you will be able to save time, allowing you to deliver more toys.”

“That may sound good, but can this device do what Vixen does? As the smartest reindeer, she handles all the instructions for getting to and landing safely on the roof of each home.”

“We are not looking to replace Vixen. We never want anything to happen to you like falling off a roof.”

“That’s good to know!” I exclaimed. Annoyed, I turned my back to the elves to watch my four-legged companions play.

Noticing that I was restless, Quentin tried to get the conversation back on track. “Santa, when you arrive in a city or neighborhood, I agree you should continue to rely on Vixen to get you from house to house. However, when you need to travel long distances between places, like over the oceans, mountains, or deserts, this system could shorten the time.”

Using more technology made me uneasy. I valued my reindeer more than the elves realized. Would this GPS make Blitzen faster, Donner stronger, or Rudolph’s nose brighter? I remembered the first time we landed on a patch of ice. All the reindeer lost control as they slid, except Dancer. Using his nimbleness, he managed to help all the others regain their footing. I would never replace any of my reindeer, but I also understood the need to be more efficient.

“Sometimes when we travel from one continent to another,” I pondered aloud, “we do not always end up where I need to be and that has caused delays.” Stroking my beard, I turned to look at Sledge and Quentin directly. “Are you saying that I would not have to use this GPS system all the time, but just for the long distances?”

Sensing I might agree, Sledge was quick to say, “That’s right Santa! You can use it when you need it and use Vixen and the team the rest of the time.”

“You know I’m not the best at some of this new technology. Do you think I will be able to learn how to use it, or will I need to bring an elf with me to help with the GPS?”

Sledge looked to Quinten who responded, “Santa, we can have your entire route programmed into the GPS. All you will have to do is follow the directions on the screen.”

“There is another benefit to using the GPS,” Sledge added wanting to sell me on their idea.

“And what would that be?”

“With the GPS we will be able to know where you are at any moment. If you need help for any reason, the E.L.F.S. (Effective Liberating Flight Squad) will find you faster.” Sledge paused for a moment to let me think about the E.L.F.S and added, “There is also a group called N.O.R.A.D. (North American Aerospace Defense Command) that tracks you. The GPS will make their reporting more accurate so that the parents are sure to get the children to sleep before you arrive.”

“Even if I do not use this GPS thing the way you want, I can see the benefits to the E.L.F.S. and N.O.R.A.D. Go ahead and install it. But, I’ll want to test it before the season gets here.”

Smiling from ear to ear, Quinten said, “You will not regret it Santa. We’ll get working right away and let you know when we are finished.”

As the elves rushed off without even saying good bye, I laughed and thought to myself, “I bet they were afraid I’d change my mind.”

Chuckling, I placed my right foot on the bottom rail of the fence surrounding the pasture. Resting both arms on the top rail, I was startled when Vixen snuck up on my left and nudged my elbow.

As she nuzzled my cheek, I slipped my arm over the railing and patted her head. “I love you too, Vixen. Don’t worry about this new technology. I doubt there will ever be a reindeer as smart as you. Besides, I don’t know what I’d do if I could not brag about you to the little girls. When I tell them your story, it encourages them to be whatever they want. Oh, and they love hearing how much smarter you are than the boys on my team.”

Vixen gave me a big reindeer kiss. Starting at my chin, she licked all the way up my face, stopping only when she got to the top of my forehead. I smiled and grabbed my handkerchief to wipe the reindeer slime off my face. Though technology could help with deliveries on Christmas, it could never replace the love and support of my reindeer.

Notes From Santa

To read other reindeer stories please check out: How Rudolph Got His Red Nose, which was posted on September 2, 2019; Dasher Becomes Part Of Santa’s Team, which was posted on October 28, 2019; and Reiney Meets Cupid, which was posted on February 10, 2020

To read more about Santa’s sleigh please check out: Santa’s Improved Sleigh, which was posted on March 16, 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 . . .

Meeting Queen Gwendolen

I sat at my desk with a stack of letters in front of me, sipped a cup of Judy’s famous hot cocoa and nibbled on a cookie. The first letter was from Connor, who was excited about his recent graduation from kindergarten. I was interrupted by a knock on my door.

“Come in!” I hollered.

As the door squeaked open, Geordie stuck his head in. “Would you have time to talk Santa?”

“Why of course Geordie, come on in and have a seat,” I replied moving from my desk towards the couch. “What can I do for you?” I asked offering him a cookie. “Is this about the Fairy Dust Box?”

The other day, Geordie, while helping to clean my office with Ms. Claus, moved my Fairy Dust Box. Later when I was looking for the box, I could not find it and thought it was lost.

“Well… not exactly.  I’m curious about how you met the Snow Fairies and learned about the Pixie Dust.”

Crossing my legs, I settled back into the corner of the couch. “Long before I started working with the elves or fairies,” I began, “I walked from house to house to make the deliveries. As time went on, I wanted to visit more homes with gifts and started riding a white horse.”

“You didn’t have a sleigh then?” Geordie asked.

“Not at that time. I knew I needed something better than a horse though.”

In the early 1500s, the number of children and homes had grown too large for me to visit in one night on horseback. I needed help. That’s when I called on my friend, Leonardo De Vinci, a well know inventor, scientist, and artist. He agreed to help me solve my delivery problem.

“At the time Leonardo was working on man’s ability to fly like the birds. He thought that if we could find eight strong, fast reindeer to pull a sleigh, they may be able to get it going fast enough to fly through the air.” Stopping, I leaned in with a grin and added, “That’s when Leonardo suggested that we travel to Lapland, Finland, where some of the strongest and fastest reindeer lived.”

Perking up with excitement, Georgie said, “That’s where you met the elves and soon after we became part of your team!”

“That’s right.” After taking a sip of my hot cocoa, I continued, “Leonardo worked for a few weeks applying all kinds of weird, wing-like structures on the sleigh and reindeer, trying to get them to fly. However, with all his efforts, the sleigh only floated about two feet off the ground for ten seconds. And that was without loading any toys in it!”

“So, what did you do?”

“Leonardo immediately began modifying his plan. I was worried he would not succeed. Then one night, when I was about to give up and return to the North Pole, Bernard approached me with a suggestion. Things at the North Pole would never be the same again.”

*      *      *      *      *      *

“Santa, I’ve been watching you and Leonardo working to get your sleigh to fly,” remarked Bernard as we sat by the fire.

“If you have a solution, I would love to hear it!” I snapped putting a log on the fire.

“It’s not exactly a solution, but it could lead to one,” he explained slowly.

As I stroked my beard and nodded my head, he began to enlighten me. “A special group of fairies live in a place, deep in the Artic, called Ferrishyn. I think they may hold your solution.”

“I’ve run into fairies on the mainland before, but none of them ever spoke of Pixie Hollow,” I answered. “Do they use wands or spells to make magic?”

“Neither. They use Pixie Dust.”

As Bernard was talking, I noticed a small red light float around the room. Pointing to it I said, “What is . . .”

Bernard answered before I finished asking. “That’s a Snow Fairy. When they fly, they glow red. This is Queen Gwendolen. I invited her here, hoping she might be able to work with you to solve your delivery issue. Would you like to meet her?”

“Of course! I’d be honored.”

I had no sooner finished talking when the red light floated down to the table between Bernard and me. Upon landing, the light turned into a beautiful fairy. Standing about five inches tall, Queen Gwendolen wore a skirt made of champagne colored rose petals, decorated with Forget-Me-Not bows. Her bodice, a velvety rose petal garment, led to her train of poinsettia petals. I wished Anya was here to meet this elegant beauty.

“Santa, meet Queen Gwendolen of the Snow Fairies.”

Sitting on the edge of my chair, I bowed my head. “Queen Gwendolen, it is a pleasure to meet you. I’m honored that you have taken the time to visit with me.”

Queen Gwendolen’s response sounded like the tinkling of sleigh bells. As I was about to say something, Bernard spoke up. “Santa, the ringing you hear is how Snow Fairies sound to us when they speak. Allow her to sprinkle White Pixie Dust, and you will understand her.”

“Why I have never heard of such a thing, but by all means, yes.” With that Queen Gwendolen rose above and sprinkled the dust on me. As she landed back on the table, I felt a slight tingling, and looked at Bernard. “Is it supposed to tingle?”

To my surprise Bernard did not answer. Instead, the Queen responded, “Yes, Santa, that is normal. Now that we can understand one another, let’s discuss your problem. Bernard has told me that you and your friend Leonardo are trying to get your reindeer to fly while pulling your sleigh.”

Discouraged, I responded, “If Leonardo can’t solve this, I am not sure how I will be able to get to all the homes on Christmas.”

“That is why I wanted to meet with you.” Taking a seat on the edge of a book on the table, Queen Gwendolen continued, “You see, in addition to the White Pixie Dust I used to help you understand what I am saying, Snow Fairies produce other magical Pixie Dust. One of them is red, and I’m sure it can help the reindeer fly.”

“That’s fantastic!” I stood up and began to pace in front of the fire thinking about what this would mean.

“We have been using the Red Pixie Dust on several animals and it has never failed,” Queen Gwendolen further explained. “Would you like to test it?”

More excited than a child on Christmas morning, I turned to look at the Queen and responded, “You bet I would!”

“Can you have your team of reindeer hitched to your sleigh first thing in the morning?”

“I can do that.”

“Thank you. I will return at that time with some of the Pixie Dust, and you can test it on your reindeer.” As she finished speaking, Queen Gwendolen’s wings vibrated, and I watched as the red glow floated across the room and out the door.

The next morning Bernard and Leonardo helped me hitch up the team. Sitting in the sleigh, waiting for Queen Gwendolen, the sun rose above the eastern horizon.  At that moment I saw the glow of the Queen approaching.

“Good morning Queen Gwendolen,” I said as she landed on the seat next to me.

“Good day to you, Santa. Here is the Red Pixie Dust,” she said placing a small bag in my hand. “Put just a pinch of the dust in the palm of your hand, and offer it to each reindeer.”

“Yes ma’am.”

As I climbed down from the sleigh, Queen Gwendolen repeated, “Remember, just a pinch to each reindeer, not a bit more.”

Walking from reindeer to reindeer, I placed a pinch in my hand and let each one lick it off. When finished, I got back into the sleigh and took my seat next to Queen Gwendolen.

“Now call out the names of the reindeer and ask them in your own way to fly.”

Taking hold of the reins, I looked over to a smiling Bernard while Leonardo, standing with his arms folded, looked on with disbelief. Feeling uncertain and very nervous, I took one last glance at Queen Gwendolen, then snapped the reins as I said, “”Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen! To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall! Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

The reindeer responded immediately, and within seconds, I was airborne. Excited, I watched as Bernard and Leonardo became smaller and smaller. Then I noticed the reindeer were flying willy-nilly all over the place. Pulling back on the reins, I soon got the team under control.

Flying for what seemed like hours, Queen Gwendolen said, “If you’re satisfied, we should return.”

I nodded my head and directed the team back to where Bernard and Leonardo were waiting. Once we landed, both applauded my first successful flight, giving me a high five as I jumped down from the sleigh.

*      *      *      *      *      *

 “And that, Geordie, is how I met the Snow Fairies and had my first experience with Pixie Dust.”

Getting up from the couch, Geordie placed his empty plate on my desk. “What a fantastic story Santa. Have you ever been to Snow Land?”

“Ho Ho Ho, I am much too large to visit there.  But many of the fairies have visited the North Pole from time to time. Queen Gwendolen and I write and see each other often. Did I answer your question?”

“Yes you have Santa, and I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to talk with me. I am so happy to be part of your team,” Geordie responded as he made his way to the door and left.

Sitting back in my chair, I smiled. Sharing the story of the Snow Fairies with Geordie reminded me of how lucky I have been. Over the years as Christmas became an even bigger event, Queen Gwendolen introduced me to other types of Pixie Dust. “Well,” I muttered to myself while gathering the dirty dishes. “It certainly has paid off having the Elves and Snow Fairies as friends. Because of them, the magic of Christmas continues to grow.”

Notes From Santa

To read about Geordie misplacing my Fairy Dust Box please check out: Lost Fairy Dust, which was posted on May 11, 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 “Anne Stokes 

The White Feather

I sat behind my desk staring nervously at my computer screen. When I needed to talk with members of my J.A.T.S. (Jolly Assistants To Santa) Corps in the past, I would take a sleigh to meet with them in person. Because of the COVID-19 virus, I was now meeting virtually using my computer.

My communication director, Telsa, had set up the meeting with a couple dozen of my helpers. Not knowing a lot of how virtual meetings worked, she assured me that it was like a conference call, only we would all be able to see one another.

Looking at the clock on the wall, I clicked the icon Telsa put on my computer and the meeting started. I watched as members of the Corps began showing up on my screen. “Welcome to the North Pole, Santas,” I began. Hearing me address them as Santa brought smiles to their faces. “I’m new at this video meeting thing,” I explained, “so I hope you will be patient if I mess something up.”

While all the Santas chuckled as they nodded in agreement, I continued. “I thought today we could address any issues you had this past Christmas before you forget about them. That way we can resolve the problem before the next season. So, let’s begin.”

Watching the images on my screen, I noticed one of my workers raise his hand. “Santa Art, do you have something you wish to talk about?”

“I do Santa, and I think maybe other Corps members may have run into this as well.” Santa Art straightened up in his chair and leaned in towards his video cam. “I was wondering if any of the children have ever caught you delivering their presents.”

“Ho Ho Ho,” I responded. “It happens more often than you might think. Why do you ask?”

“Well Santa, I have had some children wonder what would happen if they ever saw you.”

Not waiting for me to call on him, Santa Pat broke in, “I’ve had children tell me that if they catch Santa leaving their presents, he will take all of them back!”

“Whoa!” I shouted as the discussion erupted with everyone trying to talk at the same time. “Let’s slow down. One at a time, please. Santa Michael, I saw your hand go up. Do you have something to add?”

“Yes I do,” he answered quickly. “One child told me that you would sprinkle pepper in his eyes if he was caught spying on you. And another told me that Mr. Sandman would visit and throw sand in her eyes if she was discovered peeking in on Santa.”

Shaking my head, I responded, “Where do these children get their imaginations? Let me assure you that nothing like that happens to the boys and girls who catch me delivering presents.”

Looking relieved, Santa Art pushed his glasses back up his nose and asked, “Then what does happen?”

“As I said before this occurs more often than you realize, and when I do catch children watching me, I invite them into the room.”

Surprised, Santa Jay asked, “Do you give them their gifts to open?”

Wagging my finger from side to side, I explained, “No, I would never do that. Instead, I take them out to the kitchen and we get some cookies and milk.”

“But they already left you cookies and milk, didn’t they?”

“Oh the milk and cookies are not for me. It’s for them,” I informed the group. “While I unpack the toys, they sit on the couch, watch, and enjoy their snack. When I finish setting out the presents, I join in and relax. Then I allow them to ask me anything they want about the North Pole or myself.”

Looking a bit confused, Santa Ed asked, “You answer all their questions? Do you tell them your secrets?”

“Of course I do! I would never tell a child anything that was not the truth.”

I could see that many of the members were scratching their heads. “Santa Tom, do you have a question?”

Santa Tom squirmed in his chair for a moment and inquired, “If this happens often, and you tell them anything they want to know, why don’t they say anything to us? Well…. at least no one has told me about any secrets, and from the look on everyone’s face, I’m not alone.”

“I guess this is a good time to tell you another secret,” I whispered. Reaching over to my desk I picked up a small black leather pouch. “I keep the magic here in my pouch.” I opened the bag and pulled out a metal box, opened it, and removed one small white feather.

“Your secret is a feather!” exclaimed Santa Art.

“It is a special white feather from an Ivory Gull that only lives at the North Pole. You see, after they ask their questions, I drop the feather and when it hits the floor, the children will be back in their beds sound asleep. When they wake up on Christmas morning, they will have no memory of catching me putting presents under their trees,” I explained.

Wanting to be sure he heard me correctly, Santa Jay asked, “They don’t remember anything from your visit?”

“Not a thing.” I leaned back in my chair and let the details sink in with the J.A.T.S. After a few seconds I continued, “Some children have caught me more than once, and they still do not remember anything.”

Clasping his hands together and resting them on his bulging belly, Santa Tom asked, “So do you clean up the cookies and milk before you leave?”

“Actually, I don’t. While the children are too excited about their gifts to notice anything like that, I leave the extra plates and glasses, and even the feather on the floor, for the parents to find.”

In disbelief, Santa Pat raised his hands toward the ceiling and shrugged his shoulders. “For the parents? That does not make any sense.”

“Over the years, I’ve come to learn that many parents begin to recall things about their youth. Though their memories are not as sharp, often when they see the extra plates and glasses, and the feather on the floor, it sparks something in their minds. This reaction brings back their favorite Christmas memories. For a moment, many think they remember catching me delivering their toys.”

“Is this to help them feel like a child again and enjoy Christmas with their families even more?” Santa Ed asked.

“It is. The smiles on their faces and those of their children tell me that they are happy and that makes me smile as well.”

“Can we share the story of The White Feather with the children?” Santa Michael asked.

“Yes you can, and if any of you ever have questions about it, please let me know.”

Santa Michael cleared his throat and announced, “I think I can speak for everyone that this was a unique experience. I never dreamed you’d share one of your well-kept secrets with us.”

“Well thank you Santa Michael, it was my pleasure, but keep in mind….”

As I was about to finish, Santa Pat interrupted nervously, “Just one more thing, Santa. How do you know about the reactions of parents and others in the families you visit at Christmas?”

Smiling, I glanced at the clock and realized I had about fifteen minutes to get to my meeting with Bernard. “Well this has been quite an experience,” I said satisfied. Realizing, however, that my helpers expected an answer, I added, “Though Santa Pat brings up an interesting point, some of my secrets are mine to keep. After all, the magic of Christmas is for everyone, even members of J.A.T.S. Till our next virtual meeting, stay safe.”

As everyone waved and said good bye, I let out one last ‘Ho Ho Ho’ and clicked the End Session button.

Notes From Santa

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

Thanks to Stephen Gillham, Triangle Santa, for the foundation of the White Feather Story 

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 . . .

Lost Fairy Dust

“Good morning, Carter,” I called out as I entered the mailroom. “Have any letters for me today?”

“I have them all ready for you,” Carter replied, picking up a stack and handing them to me. “No sensitive letters today,” Carter explained happily, “but many of the children’s letters reveal how much they miss seeing you. I think you’ll have fun reading them.”

Putting the stack under my arm, I headed for the door. “Thanks, Carter. Where’s Ms. Claus? I thought she was working with you today.”

Carter smiled. “How easily you forget. It’s Spring, and what does Ms. Claus do every spring?” he asked laughing.

I thought a moment and nodded. “Spring cleaning!” I exclaimed. “Should have remembered because she does it every May. Once she starts, she doesn’t know when to stop. Is Sophia helping her this year?”

“No, Sophia has other work to do, so Ms. Claus is training three of the younger elves – Carlton, Regan, and Geordie- to help. I think she’s on a mission to develop a squad of elves who will be responsible to do deep cleaning more than twice a year,” Carter explained and then added, “I wonder what lost items Ms. Claus will find this year.”

Grinning, I opened the door. “As long as everything is clean, organized, and put back in place, I don’t care what she finds.”

Walking towards my office, I remembered how Ms. Claus had found my favorite pair of Christmas socks last May wedged between the wall and the back of our bed. “She has never let me forget that one,” I muttered as I opened the door to my office.

Placing the letters on my desk, I noticed how clean the office was and knew that Ms. Claus and her team had already been here. Taking a quick glance around the room, everything appeared to be in place, so I settled down to look at the letters.

Many of the them revealed how the children had adjusted to staying at home because of the COVID-19 virus. Several of them were struggling with classroom work now that schools were closed, but I was impressed with the way many of the children were making the best of a bad situation.

About half-way through the letters, however, I came across one that was asking about the green fairy dust I use to tele-transport toys from the North Pole to my bag in the sleigh. The little girl wanted to know if the dust could transport people as well, which it can’t do.

As I thought about the fairy dust, I noticed a delivery ticket on my desk, indicating that my order of fresh fairy dust had arrived that morning. I swiveled around in my chair and unlocked my dust safe and quickly checked to see if it was there. Satisfied, I turned and picked up another letter. However, this time I had an odd feeling that something wasn’t right. Standing up, I carefully looked around the room again; then as I stared at my desk, I felt my heart sink when I saw the corner of my desk empty.  My traveling box of fairy dust was gone.

After looking behind and under everything in my office, I slumped back down into my office chair. I tried to remember when I had the box the last time and what I might have done with it. Because of the importance of the fairy dust, I was always very careful with it.

The longer I thought about where my traveling dust box could be, the more worried I got. Then it hit me – could Lyra be behind the disappearance? Her inquisitive nature had led her to take some of my red fairy dust on two separate occasions in the past.

Feeling confident that Lyra was the culprit, I headed over to the doll toyshop where Lyra worked. Entering, I found her organizing the clothes for the dolls. “Lyra,” I called walking up to her, “Do you know where my traveling fairy dust box is?”

Putting down the dresses she had in her hands, Lyra turned to me and answered, “No Santa. Why would I know where your dust box is?”

“I thought maybe you wanted to do something for me again, like you did with Rudolph and the red fairy dust.”

Surprised at my questions, Lyra gave me a serious look and responded, “Remember, I promised you I would not go into your office again without your permission, and I have kept that promise.” Noticing how worried I was, Lyra added, “Was there anything wrong with it? Maybe Woody took it to the wood toyshop to fix it.”

“That’s got to be it Lyra! Just the other day I told Woody that one of the hinges was loose. He may have picked it up to make the repairs.” Turning to hurry over to his shop, I thanked Lyra and felt relieved that the mystery had been solved.

When I arrived, Woody came right over to greet me. “Morning Santa, what brings you to my place today?”

Feeling certain that Woody had the box, I said, “I was hoping you were able to fix the hinge on my fairy dust box, and thought I’d save you the trouble of bringing it over to me.”

As if to apologize, Woody responded, “What makes you think I have it, Santa?”

“Well the box is not in my office, and I just thought you took it so that you could work on it.”

“Santa I would never just go into your office and take something of yours without telling you. I’ve been busy in the shop here and planned on fixing it in my free time.”

Noticing my gloomy facial expression, Woody asked, “Are you sure you did not put it away somewhere and just forgot?”

“I’m sure! I always keep it on my desk, so I can easily find it when I need it.”

“I’m sure it will turn up Santa. When it does, let me know and I’ll fix it right away.”

I thanked Woody and left the shop with my head hung down and my shoulders hunched forward. Walking back toward my office I grew more and more concerned that the fairy dust was lost.

Just as I reached for the door handle, I heard Bernard call from behind, “Santa! Why so sad? Is there something I can do for you?”

“I’m not sure anyone can help me. I seem to have lost my fairy dust box.”

“The one you keep on your desk?”

“Yes, and I’ve been looking for it all morning with no luck.”

Bernard thought for a minute and asked, “Did you ask Ms. Claus about it?”

“Why would I do that?”

“Well… I saw Ms. Claus and her cleaning crew coming out of your office this morning just after breakfast. Maybe she put it somewhere.”

While Anya likes things in their proper place around our house, I’ve never known her to put things away in my office. At this point though, I was getting desperate now and answered, “I don’t think she would do that, but maybe she did notice it while her team was cleaning. I’ll call her and see. Thanks Bernard.”

While moving down the hallway, I made the call.  Hearing a cheerful ‘Hello’ when she answered, I asked, “Where are you? Are you still with your cleaning team?”

“We just finished the entrance hall and are heading towards the Great Room. Lots to clean there, but we are making headway.” Pausing, she waited and then added, “Is something wrong? Your voice sounds odd.”

Worried that I may not get the answer I hoped for, I hesitated before asking, “You wouldn’t know anything about my fairy dust box, would you?”

“You mean the one on your desk?”

“Yes,” I answered a bit agitated.

“Hummmm, let me talk to my crew. Can you meet us in the Great Room?”

“I’ll be right over,” I responded as I put the communicator down.

By the time I arrived on the other side of the North Pole complex, Ms. Claus had her crew members standing at attention looking uneasy.

Addressing all of them sternly, I explained, “Since you were in my study today cleaning, I wondered if any of you saw my fairy dust box? It is important, and without this box Christmas may not happen.”

The three elves stood with their heads down. One of them finally looked at me. “Santa, I’m so sorry. I was just trying to do a good job and make sure the fairy dust was safe because I know how important it is to you,” Geordie explained quickly.

Sensing that Geordie was nervous Anya remarked, “While we were straightening your office this morning, the Snow Fairies came by with a delivery. I signed for it, placed the ticket on your desk, opened the safe and told Geordie to put it inside.” Turning her eyes on Geordie, Ms. Claus prompted the elf to finish her explanation. “Just be honest and tell him what happened.”

“Well…. I started to put the new shipment into the safe and noticed another box marked Fairy Dust on your desk, so I grabbed it and placed it in the back of the safe, behind the new dust. Ms. Claus had told us how important the dust was, so I figured it all went into the safe.”

“I’ve been looking for that box all morning, and was beginning to think I lost it,” I answered placing my hands on my hips.

“Before Geordie could respond, Carlton jumped in and added, “Geordie didn’t mean to be careless; he’s a hard worker. We all know how important the fairy dust is to you Santa, so the three of us figured all of it belonged in the safe. Seemed like the right place.”

As the elves nodded in agreement, I smiled realizing that all three had made the decision to be honest rather than one elf taking the blame.  Putting my agitation aside, I praised the three but added a fair warning. “Though I appreciate your diligent work, next time, check with Ms. Claus before you make decisions. I like all my things in the exact spot where I put them. That way, I always know where they are. Have I made myself clear?”

“Yes sir. It won’t happen again,” the three mumbled.

Extending my hand towards them, I smiled. “Let’s bump on that.”

Relieved, Geordie, Regan and Carlton grinned and we all exchanged elbow bumps. “Thanks Santa, for understanding.”

“Now,” announced Ms. Claus, “I think we need to take a break. So make your way to the dining hall and get yourselves some lunch. I’ll meet you afterwards here in the Great Room. We still have lots to do.”

While the three elves scampered off, Ms. Claus slipped her arm through mine as we walked down the hallway. “They are young,” she explained, “but hard-working. They’ll learn.”

Feeling relieved that the box was found I, I relaxed. “I agree, but next time my study gets cleaned, I’d prefer that you do it Anya. Okay?”

Smiling at me, Ms. Claus reached up and kissed my cheek. “No problem Santa. It’s nice to know you trust me.”

“Always,” I answered slipping my arm around her shoulder and giving it a squeeze. “What would I do without you?”

Notes From Santa

To read more about Lyra and Fairy Dust please check out: Flying High, which was posted on July 29, 2019; and How Rudolph Got His Red Nose, which was posted on September 2, 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 . . .

The Story Of Elves

Bernard and I sat at a table in the middle of the dining room. As elves do in order to maintain their high level of energy, Bernard was having a healthy lunch of chicken salad on a bed of lettuce, steamed broccoli, and a small bowl of mixed fruits. I chose a grilled cheese sandwich, potato chips, and an apple.

“You know Santa, you really should eat more vegetables and less of those potato chips and processed foods,” Bernard informed me.

“You sound like Ms. Claus. I’m doing better than I used to, but I just have this weakness for what I like to call ‘comfort’ foods.”

“I’m just looking out for you. I don’t think we could continue our Christmas mission if something ever happened to you.”

“Thanks,” I responded putting my napkin on my lap. “But I could never do this without you and all the elves either. Remember when I visited Lapland, Finland, hundreds of years ago, looking for reindeer to pull my sleigh? The last thing I expected was to meet you and the other elves on Korvatunturi (kor‧va‧tun‧tu‧ri) Mountain.”

Bernard nodded as he recalled that time long ago. “Your reputation for gift giving was well known around the world. So, when we heard you were coming to find magical reindeer, we knew we had to meet you, and hoped that you would allow us to help.” Bernard looked around the dining hall at all the elves. “You know each and every elf here would not want to be anywhere else.”

Looking at my head elf, I smiled, “Good to know.” I leaned forward putting my elbows on the table, and thought about the elves and added, “I would have never been able to keep up with the demand without them.”

As Bernard and I focused on eating, I thought about my first encounter with the elves. Similar to humans, they were no taller than about three feet, with large pointed ears. Later I learned that their ears allowed them to detect the slightest noise and to be able to pin-point what they heard and where it came from. Their hearing came in handy many times, especially in finding issues with my sleigh as well as overhearing everything that was said in children’s homes, even if they were whispering in another room.

As I slowly finished my lunch, I remember being impressed by these energy packed beings. Often feisty, fidgety and nervous, I learned to use these traits to my advantage. Unable to sit still for too long, I watched as they tinkered around to see what they could create. Smiling, I recalled one particular elf. “Bernard,” I asked, “do you remember how shortly after the elves arrived at the North Pole, one of them, Hanfin I think, took an old clock apart?”

Bernard laughed and almost choked on a piece of fruit. “You were so upset at first as Hanfin examined how it worked. Putting it back together, he figured out how to apply what he learned to toys. Do you remember what he then created for you?”

“You bet I do,” I answered grinning. “The next day, he came into the toy shop and showed me the mechanical train that could run on its own after being wound up instead of having to be pulled. I was impressed.”

“Hanfin is a very creative elf,” Bernard responded.

“I agree.” Nodding, I added, “We were in need of elf creativity, and they could not have come at a better time. I was struggling to keep up with the growing number of children and homes I had to visit. Not only was I trying to find a way to get to all the homes faster with the strongest reindeer, but Ms. Claus and I were worried about keeping up with the increased number of toys I required for Christmas.”

“They say things happen for a reason, and our meeting certainly proves that!”

Sitting back in my chair as Bernard continued eating, I thought about some of the stories I had heard about elves. “You know Bernard,” I remarked thoughtfully, “it’s a good thing I did not listen to all the rumors about elves.”

A quizzical look overcame Bernard’s face as he paused from eating his broccoli. “What rumors are you talking about Santa?”

“As I recall, Scandinavian legends portrayed elves as downright naughty, if not outright evil and nasty. Why I even had one person tell me that if you were naughty, an elf would sit on your head while you dreamed, turning the dream into a nightmare!”

“That’s a bit harsh,” Bernard said miffed. “You do realize the truth was that the elves reacted to what was going on with the family in a house.” Spearing a piece of pineapple with his fork, he shook it in the air at me. “If they were good, we protected them from evil. However, if they were naughty, we would play tricks on them, but we never sat on any child’s head.”

I chuckled a bit. “Well, true or not, that’s what inspired me to start keeping the Nice and Naughty List. Since then if a child is good, they are rewarded at Christmas; if they are naughty, I don’t leave them as much, and sometimes I won’t leave anything for them.”

“And the Scout Elves (Elf on a Shelf) are still helping with that today,” Bernard asserted as he finished his lunch.

“Yes, I’m not sure what I would do without them. They keep me informed if the children are behaving and obeying their parents as well as any updates I need to make to their wish list. However, there are times when I’d like to see the elves behave better while in the children’s homes.”

“Santa, you know they are just using their energy and magical powers to have some fun. Controlling what the children see and experience makes being watched more fun for the children as well.”

“I suppose you are right. But I have to tell you, some of the stories the children have told me about their Scout Elves borders on being naughty. Like the time Tiny poured flour on the table and then made Snow angels. Or the time Scarfy took a bubble bath in mini marshmallows.”

“Though I admit that their ways of having fun are questionable, they always come through for you with the information you need. You know all the good deeds of the children as well as anything they need to improve on. Not to mention, the elves always know exactly what the children want for Christmas.”

I looked around to make sure none of the elves were listening in on our conversation, and whispered, “Bernard, just between you and me, I enjoy hearing the stories about the Scout Elves. I like their style and hope they remain young at heart and continue to enjoy life. They deserve it for all the hard work they put into making Christmas special for all the children.”

“Your secret is safe with me Santa,” Bernard replied winking.

Notes From Santa

To read more about Scout Elves please check out: Scout Elves Are Coming, which was posted on November 4, 2019; and Scout Elf Shortage, which was posted on February 17, 2020

To read more about Elf Education please check out: Continuing Education for Elves, which was posted on January 27, 2020

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

Illustration by FireMane Studio