Ms. Claus and I were about to sit down for lunch in the dining hall when she nudged me. “Who is that little elf sitting all by herself in the corner?”
“That’s Candice. She just arrived the other day to start school at Elf University.”
“She looks sad. Has Candice made any friends here yet?” Anya asked standing by her chair.
I glanced over to Candice and remarked, “I’m not sure.”
Anya kept her eye on Candice while motioning to me, “We need to go sit with her.”
As we walked up to the table Ms. Claus asked, “Do you mind if we join you for lunch?”
Candice looked up in shock, and before the young elf could answer, Anya and I sat down. “We could not help but notice you were sitting by yourself,” I started. “Will your friends be joining you?”
Candice looked back down at her plate and mumbled, “I don’t have any friends here.”
“That’s hard to believe. The elves here are the friendliest I’ve ever known,” I informed Candice as I looked around the room. “Have any of the elves talked to you?”
“Some have said hi to me.”
Anya was quick to respond by asking, “Did you take the time to talk with them?”
“I said hi back, and then just walked on,” Candice responded as she picked at her lunch.
“I see.” Anya turned to look at me and continued, “I think we have a rare elf here Santa.”
With a look of surprise, I asked “She’s not . . .”
Not letting me finish, Ms. Claus concluded, “That’s right Santa. We have a shy elf here.”
Candice tried to look away from the table as her face glowed a light red. “No need to feel embarrassed or ashamed. Ms. Claus and I would love to share some ways we both got over being shy when we were young, if you’d like.”
For the first time, Candice looked at us and with a smile asked, “You were shy?”
“I almost lost the opportunity of meeting Santa because of my shyness!” Ms. Claus exclaimed.
I smiled at Anya. “I remember that time. Couldn’t understand why you felt so shy, but then I recalled how hard it was for me to meet Gwendolen, the Queen of the Snow Fairies, because I was too shy to talk to her on my own. Bernard had to step in and introduce us. Without the magic fairy dust the Snow Fairies provided, I would never be able to make Christmas happen,” I explained.
“I had no idea.” After a long pause Candice continued, “I can’t see any signs of shyness in either of you.”
“Well… at first you learn how to manage it; then you look forward to talking and being with others.” Anya squeezed some lemon into her tea then looked at Candice. “Can we give you some suggestions?”
“I’d love that!”
“Since you recently arrived, you may have some problems finding your way around the North Pole Village because it is big. So, you should make it a point to ask for help with directions, and be sure to mention that you are new here,” I instructed the elf.
“That’s right. If the elves know you are new, they will most likely not only tell you how to get somewhere, but walk you there to be sure you find your way,” Ms. Claus added.
After taking a sip of hot cocoa, I explained, “Then while you are walking you can talk about other things to get to know each other.”
“But what would I talk about?” Candice asked as she slid her empty plate toward the middle of the table.
“First, remember that there is nothing for you to be nervous or shy about. At one time every elf here was new and trying to find his or her way around and to meet others, just like you,” Anya said as she reached over and patted Candice’s hand.
“Being new, I know you have many questions, so just ask. For instance, ask about the school or the various workshops. Also don’t forget to ask the elves about themselves. What better way to know someone than to ask them questions,” I said eyeing my dessert cookie.
“What if they ask me questions?” Candice asked concerned.
“Why you answer them of course,” Ms. Claus began. “Also tell them what you’d like to do to help Christmas be a success and always answer truthfully. Sometimes new elves want to impress others and exaggerate the truth a bit to make themselves sound more interesting. From my observations, that doesn’t work so well.”
Nodding in agreement with Ms. Claus, I leaned back in my chair. Stroking my beard, I added, “I must warn you, however, that people and elves can fall victim to a nasty problem when meeting others.”
Candice fidgeted with her hat, worried about what I might say. Then in a nervous voice asked, “What would that be?”
“Don’t pre-judge someone. Be open to talking with any of the elves. Until you talk with them, it is impossible to tell what they are really like. Besides, if it turns out you do not hit it off, they may introduce you to someone else who could become a friend.”
A slight smile showed on Candice’s face as she said, “I think I’m beginning to get it. By letting anyone I talk to know I’m new here, they will remember what it was like for them and take a little more time to help me out.”
“That’s right . . .”
Before Ms. Claus could continue, Candice jumped back in, “And the way an elf looks does not reveal his or her true self.” Thinking aloud she added, “Hummmm, I will have to be bold when finding out what they are like and take a risk when letting them know me.”
“Excellent! I think those are the two most important things, if you want to be a part of our community,” I said as I began to push back from the table. “Ms. Claus, I think our work here is done for today.”
Looking at us, Candice smiled. “Thanks Santa and Ms. Claus. You’re the best.”
Later that day, while Anya and I were taking a walk around the courtyard, I could not help but notice a group of elves hanging out in the gazebo at the center of the courtyard. I gave Ms. Claus a nudge and pointed in that direction. “Isn’t that Candice in the middle of those elves?”
“It is Santa!” Anya exclaimed as she smiled and laid her head on my shoulder. “She just needed a little nudge to overcome her shyness and talk to someone.”
“I’m glad we were able to help, but we both know that all you have to do to make new friends is to be open to them and truthful about yourself.”
Notes From Santa
To read more about 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