“Bernard, have you noticed anything different about Ms. Claus lately?” I inquired as we walked past the kitchen.
Taking my arm, to keep me from following the sweet scent of gingerbread cookies coming from the kitchen, he replied, “I’m not sure what you mean. I do seem to be running into her more these days.”
Looking back over my shoulder toward the kitchen, I responded, “That’s my point. With the growing number of children, we have had to add more elves and workshops. Because of that, I am busier and busier all the time.”
“But Santa, you have me, and we have some very good elves working here now.”
“Bernard, I don’t think you understand,” I answered after the scent of cookies disappeared. “It’s not the toy production. It’s all the other things. We collect many more letters than we used to and then there is the Wish List and the Naughty or Nice List. You would not believe how many requests Carter, the Mail Room supervisor, has received asking me to show up at an event or a house.”
“I guess I never really see that end.”
“I’m amazed,” I continued, “how she senses when I begin to worry about things not getting done on time. She will say, ‘Santa, I’ve got some time. Why don’t you let me take care of something for you?’”
“That sounds like a good thing for you.”
“You’re right, but what if she is taking on too much? I don’t want her to take on more than she can handle. When I walked into the Mail Room this morning, Carter told me there was nothing that needed my attention.”
“Again, that sounds like a good thing. You should be happy the Mail Elves are doing so well.”
“Oh, I am! But then, as I was leaving, Carter shouted, ‘Santa, be sure to thank Ms. Claus for her help.’ I waved back to let him know I heard him, but wasn’t sure what he was talking about.”
“You should have asked him.”
“You’re right, I should have. I had too much to do though, and I continued on to the Vault Room, where we keep the Naughty and Nice List. Once I arrived, entered the combination, and opened the door, I was shocked.”
“Walking inside I found all the notes from the Scout Elves and the J.A.T.S. Corp members already sorted into stacks on the tables. I found all the notes carefully organized; the good things were on the table on the right, and the bad on the table on the left. I was able to go straight to the Naughty stack and read those notes, without sorting through all the good things. That way I instantly knew which children the scout elves and I needed to keep an eye on.”
“That’s pretty efficient. Who sorted them all?”
“Ms. Claus is the only other person with the combination to that room, so it had to have been her. And that’s my point. I think she is doing too much.”
“I see what you mean. Has she complained?”
“No, she has never said a word. She also oversees the kitchen and the elf dormitories.”
Looking a bit ashamed, Bernard added, “And when you leave for your yearly visits during December, I always check with her about any problems I run into, just like I do with you when you are here.”
“That’s right!” I exclaimed, nodding my head and muttering, “I know what I have to do.”
I left Bernard at the door to his office and headed back toward the kitchen. Walking in, I first looked over toward the elves making the gingerbread cookies. I really wanted a cookie, but knew talking with Anya was more important.
Scanning the kitchen, I saw her sitting at a table with Blanch, the elf in charge of the kitchen elves, and walked toward them. As I approached, Anya looked up and said, “Hello dear. Blanch and I were just going over the menu for the rest of the week. I hope you did not come in for a cookie.”
“I would like one, but I came in to talk with you,” I said smiling.
Pushing her chair back and standing up, Blanch knew what to do. “She is all yours Santa, we just finished, and I need to check on the cookies,” she explained.
“Thanks Blanch.” Sitting down, I looked at Anya, saying, “I don’t know what I would do without you.”
“Well, thank you Santa. I feel the same about you.”
“I’m just trying to make things easier for you,” Ms. Claus said while slipping her hand over mine.
“And I am very appreciative, but I was thinking,” I answered, giving her hand a squeeze. You know I have Bernard to help me oversee the workshops, and he has several supervisors that help him. Since you keep helping me out more and more, I think it is time for you to have an assistant as well.”
Smiling broadly, Anya leaned over and gave me a kiss on the cheek. “I’m glad you think so. I was going to talk with you about that.”
“You should start searching for an assistant right away,” I said as the scent from the cookies was beginning to distract me.
“I already know who I want. Sophia, the elf who has helped me with the Elf Dorms, would be perfect. She is a hard worker and the other elves respect her.”
“Well then it’s settled. Let’s promote her to your assistant right away.”
“Thank you dear. With the increasing number of children each year, we all need to pitch in to keep the Magic of Christmas alive and well. I will tell her when I see her later today.”
“I wish I had thought of this sooner, but now you will have the help you need,” I said as I stood to give her a hug.
“Thank you dear. I know you want a cookie,” she said leading me toward the cookie trays by the ovens. “It’s ok to take one on your way out, but just one.”
Eating my cookie, as I walked down the hall towards my office, I was relieved to know that not only did Ms. Claus have my back, but now she had Sophia to help her. It felt good to know that I could visit all my little friends in December and not have to worry about how things are going at the North Pole.
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