Playing Outside

Playing Outside

“Gotcha Lyra,” shouted Highstep as he tagged his friend and took off running. “Let’s see what speed you have. Try and get me.”

“With Summer approaching in the Arctic, who wouldn’t want to be outside?” Anya began as the two of us watched the elves running and playing games. “There are so many things to do.”

“Not only that, the elves get to smell fresh air, enjoy as many as 18 hours of sunlight, while watching flowers and plants begin to bloom.”

“Don’t forget about the exercise they get and the social aspects,” Anya added.

“Could not agree more. They learn how to work with each other, make friends, and share.”

“When you make your summer visits, do you notice the children enjoying the outdoors as much as the elves?”

I picked up a ball that rolled by my feet. Seeing Peppermint waving her hands, I threw it to her. “Unfortunately, not as much as I used to.”

Anya shifted on the bench. “You’re kidding, right?” she asked and gave me an odd look.

“I wish I was. But children don’t seem to be as enthusiastic about going outside to play.”

Just then Max ran over to us and crouched down behind the bench. When I looked over my shoulder to see what he was doing, he held his finger to his lips and whispered, “I’m playing hide and seek with Heart. Don’t tell her I’m here.”

I reached over, put my arm around Ms. Claus’s shoulder and gently pulled her towards me. “Let’s give Max a little extra cover,” I whispered to her.

“No problem,” Anya laughed. “Seems strange to think the children are not playing outside as much anymore. I wonder why?”

Running my fingers through my beard, I thought about Anya’s question. “Unfortunately, I don’t think there is a simple answer.”

Suddenly I jumped up to catch a frisbee that was headed toward Anya, and when I did, I heard Heart scream, “I see you Max. Now you need to count to ten and find me!”

“Wait a minute,” Max yelled and motioned Heart to come over to where Ms. Claus and I were sitting.

“What’s up?” The young elf grinned and added, “Too tired or am I too hard to find?”

“You aren’t going to believe this.” Max said when his friend arrived.  He then turned towards me and said, “Go ahead Santa tell her what you and Ms. Claus were discussing.”

“About the children?”

Max’s face became serious. “Yes,” he murmured.

“Well…. I was telling Ms. Claus how I started noticing children playing less, and like me, she was concerned.”

“I can’t believe that!” Heart shook her head. “Maybe if they had barely two months to be outside before the bitter cold weather and long days of darkness set in, they would always enjoy the outdoors.”

“Maybe so,” I replied and tousled her hair. “If I was to pick a reason, I’d have to say the electronics play a big part in it all.”

“I think you’re right Santa. We assemble a lot of PlayStation, Xbox, and Switch gaming systems,” Max replied.

“Not to mention,” Heart broke in, “that kids also use their Tablets and Cell Phones.”

“Hum, that could keep the children from going out to play,” Anya wondered aloud.

“That’s part of it. These games are habit forming and have taken away some of the children’s imagination to create things to do on their own.”

“Ms. Claus, watch this,” Lollipop interrupted as she came over toward the bench. Twirling a hula hoop around her waist, she added one to her neck and both arms. Keeping all of the hoops in motion, Lollipop began to sing a Christmas carol.

“That’s amazing,” Anya stated. “I’m lucky to just do one at a time.”

“Easy peasy, Ms. Claus,” shouted Heart and joined in on the song while Lollipop stopped and shared her hula hoops.

Ms. Claus and I applauded their performance as they walked away while twirling their hoops.

“So how do we get the children to go outside?” asked Max, his face becoming serious. “Playing with one another, especially outside is important.”

“First of all, I think parents should set limits on how much screen time children can have with their games, tablets, and phones,” I began. “And they should encourage them to do things outside.”

“But it has to be things they like. It’s not a good idea to force children to do something they don’t enjoy,” Anya insisted. “For instance, if they don’t like bike-riding, then don’t make them.”

“Absolutely,” I agreed. “

“YEAH,” Max yelled, “and parents should join in the fun, or invite some of their friends over to play outside with them.”

“I like your ideas, Max, and your concern about children. Maybe we should share this with all the elves.”

As the three of us watched a group of elves play ‘Red Light, Green Light’, Ms. Claus snapped her fingers and exclaimed, “You know what would be a good idea and fun?”

“I’m sure you’re about to tell me,” I said grinning.

Anya slapped my leg playfully. “You know that Job Jar we keep, where we put all the things that need to be done on a piece of paper and put them in the jar?”

“I do.”

“Well why couldn’t the parents sit down with their children and put different outdoor activities on a piece of paper and put them in the jar. If they can’t think of anything to do, they could just pull a piece of paper out of the jar.”

“I like that, Ms. Claus,” Max cried and jumped up from his seat. “You know, maybe when we talk about this with all the elves, they’ll come up with ideas. Then we can create little fun jars for kids and that will be a present from all of us at the North Pole.”

“Good idea,” I replied, but Max didn’t hear me as he yelled, “Wait till you hear this!” and ran to catch up with Heart and Lollipop.

Ms. Claus and I burst into laughter and headed back to our house. When we passed the sand box, where Elfanzo and Dewey were building a sand castle, I said, “Too bad we didn’t have any children of our own. We would have been great parents.”

“Look around Santa.” Squeezing my arm, Anya added, “Seems to me that we have done quite well helping to raise plenty of elves already.”

Notes From Santa

I hope you enjoyed today’s story. Stories are posted on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month, except December. Santa’s next story will be posted on Saturday June 3, 2023.  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 the next time . . .

To read more stories about Santa & Children, please check out:

Just Part of the Family – August 26, 2019
Santa’s Waterpark Adventure – September 9, 2019
Sensitive Letters – November 18, 2019
Toys for Santa – December 9, 2019
Discussions At the Lego Table – December 16, 2019
The Art of Gift Giving – January 13, 2020
The White Feather – May 18, 2020
Patience – June 15, 2020
The Real Santa – August 17, 2020
The Key to Kindness – November 2, 2020
Changing Times – May 10, 2021
Random Acts of Kindness – September 20, 2021
Letter From Santa – January 1, 2022
Impossible Gifts – June 1, 2022
Building Confidence – February 4, 2023

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