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.”
“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